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American Water Works (AWK) Up 9.8% Since Last Earnings Report: Can It Continue?

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It has been about a month since the last earnings report for American Water Works (AWK - Free Report) . Shares have added about 9.8% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent positive trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is American Water Works due for a pullback? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at its most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

American Water Beats on Q1 Earnings, Adds Customers

American Water Works Company posted first-quarter 2020 earnings of 67 cents per share, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 65 cents by 3.1%. The bottom line also improved 9.8% year over year on the back of strong contributions from Regulated and Market-based businesses.

GAAP earnings came in at 68 cents compared with 62 cents per share in the year-ago quarter. The primary reason for the difference in GAAP and operating earnings in the reported quarter was a depreciation related to assets held for sale.

Total Revenues
 

Total revenues of $844 million beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $841 million by 0.4% and improved 3.8% from the year-ago figure of $813 million.

Highlights of the Release

Total operating expenses in the quarter were $605 million, up 5.2% from the year-ago period. The increase was due to higher operation and maintenance expenses.

Operating income was $239 million, 0.4% higher than the year-ago figure. New water rates, which came into effect from January 2020, increased revenues by $53 million from a year ago.

The company completed five acquisitions in four states till May 6, 2020, which added 6,200 customers to the customer base.

Interest expenses in the reported quarter totaled $96 million compared with $93 million in the prior-year period.

Segment Details
 

Regulated businesses’ net income was $121 million compared with $107 million in the year-ago quarter. Till May 6, 2020, this segment added 9,500 customers through acquisitions and organic growth. Acquisitions, organic growth and additional authorized revenues to support infrastructure investments boosted income.

The company expects to add an additional 45,800 customer connections through pending acquisitions.

Market-Based businesses’ net income was $22 million compared with $20 million in the year-ago quarter.

Financial Highlights

Cash and cash equivalents amounted to $556 million as of Mar 31, 2020, up from $60 million on Dec 31, 2019.

Long-term debt was $8,625 million as of Mar 31, 2020, higher than $8,644 million at 2019-end.

Cash flow from operating activities in first-quarter 2020 was $180 million compared with $168 million in the year-ago period.

Guidance

American Water reaffirmed its guidance for 2020 earnings in the range $3.79-$3.89 and long-term EPS compound annual growth rate within 7-10%, anchored off of 2018 adjusted EPS.

The company has plans to invest $20-$22 billion of capital over the next 10 years. Subject to the approval of the board of directors, dividend growth for the 2020-2024 period is expected to be at the high end of the 7-10% range.

 

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

It turns out, estimates revision have trended downward during the past month.

VGM Scores

Currently, American Water Works has a subpar Growth Score of D, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with a B. However, the stock was allocated a grade of F on the value side, putting it in the lowest quintile for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of D. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.

Outlook

Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions indicates a downward shift. Notably, American Water Works has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.


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