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Has Atmos Energy (ATO) Outpaced Other Utilities Stocks This Year?

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Investors interested in Utilities stocks should always be looking to find the best-performing companies in the group. Atmos Energy (ATO - Free Report) is a stock that can certainly grab the attention of many investors, but do its recent returns compare favorably to the sector as a whole? Let's take a closer look at the stock's year-to-date performance to find out.

Atmos Energy is a member of the Utilities sector. This group includes 106 individual stocks and currently holds a Zacks Sector Rank of #13. The Zacks Sector Rank considers 16 different groups, measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the sector to gauge the strength of each group.

The Zacks Rank is a proven system that emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions, highlighting a variety of stocks that are displaying the right characteristics to beat the market over the next one to three months. Atmos Energy is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

Over the past three months, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for ATO's full-year earnings has moved 2.8% higher. This signals that analyst sentiment is improving and the stock's earnings outlook is more positive.

Based on the most recent data, ATO has returned 0.2% so far this year. In comparison, Utilities companies have returned an average of -0.3%. This shows that Atmos Energy is outperforming its peers so far this year.

MDU Resources (MDU - Free Report) is another Utilities stock that has outperformed the sector so far this year. Since the beginning of the year, the stock has returned 25.1%.

The consensus estimate for MDU Resources' current year EPS has increased 1.6% over the past three months. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Looking more specifically, Atmos Energy belongs to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry, which includes 14 individual stocks and currently sits at #164 in the Zacks Industry Rank. On average, stocks in this group have gained 1.4% this year, meaning that ATO is slightly underperforming its industry in terms of year-to-date returns. MDU Resources is also part of the same industry.

Atmos Energy and MDU Resources could continue their solid performance, so investors interested in Utilities stocks should continue to pay close attention to these stocks.

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