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Are Utilities Stocks Lagging Atmos Energy (ATO) This Year?

The Utilities group has plenty of great stocks, but investors should always be looking for companies that are outperforming their peers. Has Atmos Energy (ATO) been one of those stocks this year? A quick glance at the company's year-to-date performance in comparison to the rest of the Utilities sector should help us answer this question.

Atmos Energy is a member of the Utilities sector. This group includes 103 individual stocks and currently holds a Zacks Sector Rank of #3. The Zacks Sector Rank gauges the strength of our 16 individual sector groups by measuring the average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups.

The Zacks Rank is a successful stock-picking model that emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions. The system highlights a number of different stocks that could be poised to outperform the broader market over the next one to three months. Atmos Energy is currently sporting a Zacks Rank of #2 (Buy).

Over the past 90 days, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for ATO's full-year earnings has moved 0.4% higher. This means that analyst sentiment is stronger and the stock's earnings outlook is improving.

According to our latest data, ATO has moved about 3.8% on a year-to-date basis. Meanwhile, the Utilities sector has returned an average of -2% on a year-to-date basis. This means that Atmos Energy is performing better than its sector in terms of year-to-date returns.

Another stock in the Utilities sector, NRG Energy (NRG), has outperformed the sector so far this year. The stock's year-to-date return is 7%.

Over the past three months, NRG Energy's consensus EPS estimate for the current year has increased 25.7%. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

Looking more specifically, Atmos Energy belongs to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry, which includes 14 individual stocks and currently sits at #119 in the Zacks Industry Rank. This group has lost an average of 2.7% so far this year, so ATO is performing better in this area.

On the other hand, NRG Energy belongs to the Utility - Electric Power industry. This 58-stock industry is currently ranked #64. The industry has moved -3.6% year to date.

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

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