Investors interested in Utilities stocks should always be looking to find the best-performing companies in the group. 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 one of 108 individual stocks in the Utilities sector. Collectively, these companies sit at #5 in the Zacks Sector Rank. The Zacks Sector Rank considers 16 different sector groups. The average Zacks Rank of the individual stocks within the groups is measured, and the sectors are listed from best to worst.
The Zacks Rank emphasizes earnings estimates and estimate revisions to find stocks with improving earnings outlooks. This system has a long record of success, and these stocks tend to be on track to beat the 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 0.5% higher. This shows that analyst sentiment has improved and the company's earnings outlook is stronger.
According to our latest data, ATO has moved about 8.7% on a year-to-date basis. Meanwhile, stocks in the Utilities group have gained about 2.9% on average. As we can see, Atmos Energy is performing better than its sector in the calendar year.
Xcel Energy (XEL) is another Utilities stock that has outperformed the sector so far this year. Since the beginning of the year, the stock has returned 9%.
The consensus estimate for Xcel Energy's current year EPS has increased 0.3% over the past three months. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
To break things down more, Atmos Energy belongs to the Utility - Gas Distribution industry, a group that includes 15 individual companies and currently sits at #77 in the Zacks Industry Rank. Stocks in this group have gained about 12.1% so far this year, so ATO is slightly underperforming its industry this group in terms of year-to-date returns.
Xcel Energy, however, belongs to the Utility - Electric Power industry. Currently, this 61-stock industry is ranked #74. The industry has moved +3.4% so far this year.
Atmos Energy and Xcel 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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