Utility stocks started the Q2 reporting cycle on a strong note, with First Energy (FE - Free Report) delivering a positive earnings surprise. For the domestic-focused matured Utility sector, we expect total Q2 earnings to increase 1.8% year over year on 3.2% higher revenues.
Impressively, the Utility is one of the 8 of the 16 Zacks sectors that are likely to come up with improved year-over-year earnings in the current reporting cycle. For more details on quarterly releases, you can go through the latest Earnings Preview.
The Federal Reserve’s decision to keep the nation’s interest rates unchanged in the first half of 2019 must have acted as a key growth catalyst for the capital-intensive utility stocks. This is because interest rate hikes increase the utilities' cost of capital, impacting margins and compromising their ability to pay or hike dividend rates.
Moreover, utility stocks are expected to gain from the new rates in their service territories, customer growth coupled with effective management and control of expenses through the introduction of technologies, all of which should boost second-quarter earnings. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in the United States during the current reporting cycle was at an impressive 3.6% compared with 3.9% in the last reported quarter. This low level of unemployment must have bolstered the demand for new housing units and in turn the requirement for utility services from the residential sector.
Let's take a look at some Utility stocks that are scheduled to report second-quarter 2019 earnings on Jul 25 and find out how things are shaping up prior to the announcement.
American Electric Power Company, Inc. (AEP - Free Report) outperformed the Zacks Consensus Estimate in the trailing four quarters, the average being 6.15%. For the majority of the second quarter, American Electric’s service territories experienced temperatures that are likely to result in higher electricity demand. This, in turn, should drive the company’s top-line growth. However, income tax may unfavorably impact the bottom line primarily due to timing.
According to the Zacks model, a company with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), 2 (Buy) or 3 (Hold) has high chances of beating estimates if it also has a positive Earnings ESP. The Sell-rated stocks (Zacks Rank #4 or 5) are best avoided. You can uncover the best stocks to buy or sell before they’re reported with our Earnings ESP Filter.
American Electric has an Earnings ESP of -0.46% and a Zacks Rank #3 (read more: American Electric to Post Q2 Earnings: What's in Store?).
You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
CMS Energy Corporation (CMS - Free Report) delivered average positive earnings surprise of 3.89% in the trailing four quarters. During most of the second quarter of 2019, the company’s service territories experienced below-normal temperatures along with freezing weather conditions. These are likely to result in higher electricity demand, which in turn, should drive CMS Energy’s top line in the second quarter.
CMS Energy has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of -19.46% (read more: CMS Energy to Report Q2 Earnings: What's in the Cards?).
Edison International has a Zacks Rank #3 and an Earnings ESP of -1.94% (read more: What's in Store for Edison International in Q2 Earnings?).
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