Michael T. Burr is Fortnightly’s editor-in-chief. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The C Three Group in Atlanta provided financial analysis for this report.
Our annual ranking tracks the publicly traded electric and gas companies that produce the greatest value for shareholders. Despite the year’s topsy-turvy financial markets, perennial performers like DPL, PPL and Exelon return to the top of the list. Others face looming cap-ex burdens as regulators impose new mandates and requirements. Leading companies are positioning for growth, despite a challenging landscape.
As this issue of Public Utilities Fortnightly was going to press, the global financial markets were convulsing. Between European bailout talks and American political tail-chasing, stock traders couldn’t seem to decide which piece of bad news to follow at any given moment. Consequently the markets went into a tailspin; the Dow Jones Industrials Average (DJIA) lost almost 14 percent of its value between July 21 and August 19.
Amid that stomach-churning tableau, the exercise of analyzing last year’s financial performance for the top 40 U.S. utilities might seem a bit superfluous. After all, with stock averages going through intra-day swings of 6 percent or more, the utility industry’s glacial pace of change seems downright boring by comparison.
On the other hand, for investors weary of the market’s spastic behavior, “boring” probably sounds pretty good right about now. And that’s why, in times like these, many investors retreat to the stocks of utilities like those in our annual top-40 ranking (see Figure 9).