Shares of utility company CMS Energy Corporation (CMS - Analyst Report) reached a 52-week high of $29.61 on Apr 26, 2013. Mich.-based CMS Energy has seen its stock price climb 19.78% since the beginning of the year.
We remain upbeat on the company’s near-term prospects, supported by its solid first quarter 2013 earnings results, attractive fundamentals and a positive outlook. These factors are reflected in CMS Energy’s Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), implying that it is expected to outperform the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.
Why this Bullishness?
On Apr 25, 2013, CMS Energy posted first-quarter 2013 earnings per share of 53 cents on both adjusted and GAAP basis, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 46 cents. Earnings were 43.2% higher than 37 cents earned in the year-ago quarter. CMS Energy registered positive earnings surprises for four quarters in a row, with an average beat of 6.62%. A colder-than-normal weather spiked natural gas deliveries, driving better-than-expected results in the reported quarter.
CMS Energy continues to strengthen its distribution system and generation assets through projects such as advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) and renewable (wind) investments. Consumers Energy, principal subsidiary of CMS Energy, intends to invest about $7 billion in its operations through 2017.
With its robust pipeline of regulated investment opportunities and favorable regulatory treatment, the company remains on track to achieve its long-term EPS growth target of 5% to 7% and annual rate base growth of 6% to 7%. In addition, return on equity (ROE) of the company is 14.5%, higher than the peer group average of 4.8%.
CMS Energy has consistently paid dividends to its shareholders and has raised its quarterly dividend seven times in as many years. The incremental dividend reflects the strength and successful execution of the company's business strategy. The current annual dividend is $1.02 per share, with a dividend yield of 3.47%.
Going forward, our bullish outlook for the company is supported by stable regulated utility operations, favorable regulatory policies in Michigan, higher rates, investment plans and a robust dividend yield.
We expect long-term earnings growth of 5.97%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2013 and 2014 are $1.65 and $1.74, respectively. This reflects year-over-year growth of 6.2% in 2013 and 6.0% in 2014.
Other Stocks to Consider
In addition to CMS Energy, there are other utilities like Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (BIP - Snapshot Report) , Pike Electric Corp. and Empresa Nacional de Electricidad S.A. that offer great value and are worth buying now. All these firms sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).