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FE or XEL: Which Utilities Stock Should Investors Pick Now?

·3-min read

The coronavirus outbreak has led to a global economic crisis and the situation keeps worsening each day. For now, investors are keeping on the sidelines given the volatile market conditions.

However, Utilities companies across the United States are operating relentlessly to provide 24X7 essential services like electricity, water and natural gas to their customers.

Thus, investors can consider stocks from utilities sector as it is less affected by the economic disruption and are considered as safe investment options. Steady performance along with stable earnings and cash flow enable these companies to reward investors through regular dividend payouts even in volatile market scenarios.

In this article, we conduct a comparative analysis on two Utility - Electric Power — FirstEnergy Corporation FE and Xcel Energy Inc. XEL — to ascertain which is a better buying option now.

Both the stocks carry a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

FirstEnergy has a market capitalization of $20.89 billion and the same for Xcel Energy is $30.83 billion.

Price Performance

Amid the current scenario, shares of most industry players have been declining in recent times. On a long-term basis, shares of FirstEnergy and Xcel Energy have outperformed the industry. In the last five years, Xcel Energy’s shares have returned 68.8%% compared with the industry's growth of 2.9%. Shares of FirstEnergy have increased 10.1%.

Five Years

Surprise Trend

FirstEnergy has trailing four-quarter positive earnings surprise of 5.47%, on average. Xcel Energy has trailing four-quarter negative earnings surprise of 2.84%, on average.

Growth Projections

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Xcel Energy’s 2020 earnings is pegged at $2.80 on revenues of $12.49 billion. This indicates 6.06% and 8.38% increase of the bottom and the top line, respectively, from the year-ago period’s reported figures.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for FirstEnergy’s 2020 earnings is pegged at $2.50 on revenues of $11.34 billion. This calls for 3.10% decline of the bottom line and 2.74% increase of the top line, respectively, from the year-ago period’s reported figures.

Dividend Yield

Utilities companies generally distribute dividends. Currently, the dividend yield for FirstEnergy is at 4.04%, higher than the S&P composite’s 2.41%. FirstEnergy’s dividend yield is also better than Xcel Energy’s 2.93%.


The debt-to-capital is a good indicator of the financial position of a company. The indicator shows how much debt is used to run the business. FirstEnergy has a debt-to-capital of 73.77% compared with the industry’s 50.58%. Meanwhile, Xcel Energy has a debt-to-capital ratio of 56.80%.


The aforementioned companies are efficiently providing services to their customers and should be included in your portfolio. However, the above comparisons indicate that Xcel Energy is a better utilities stock right now.

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