Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE) and National Grid Transco (NYSE:NGG) are both utilities companies, but which is the better investment? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their risk, earnings, institutional ownership, dividends, analyst recommendations, valuation and profitability.

Dividends

Empire District Electric pays an annual dividend of $1.04 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.1%. National Grid Transco pays an annual dividend of $1.87 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.2%. Empire District Electric pays out 75.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. National Grid Transco pays out 58.6% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. National Grid Transco is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Empire District Electric and National Grid Transco, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Empire District Electric 0 0 0 0 N/A
National Grid Transco 0 6 6 0 2.50

National Grid Transco has a consensus price target of $69.00, indicating a potential upside of 18.35%. Given National Grid Transco’s higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe National Grid Transco is more favorable than Empire District Electric.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

65.9% of Empire District Electric shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 5.6% of National Grid Transco shares are held by institutional investors. 0.7% of Empire District Electric shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares Empire District Electric and National Grid Transco’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Empire District Electric 15.69% 13.50% 4.46%
National Grid Transco N/A N/A N/A

Risk and Volatility

Empire District Electric has a beta of 0.11, suggesting that its stock price is 89% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, National Grid Transco has a beta of 0.44, suggesting that its stock price is 56% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares Empire District Electric and National Grid Transco’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Empire District Electric N/A N/A N/A $1.38 24.70
National Grid Transco $18.62 billion 2.12 $10.19 billion $3.19 18.28

National Grid Transco has higher revenue and earnings than Empire District Electric. National Grid Transco is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Empire District Electric, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

National Grid Transco beats Empire District Electric on 7 of the 12 factors compared between the two stocks.

Empire District Electric Company Profile

The Empire District Electric Company is a regulated utility company. The Company is engaged in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity. It provides services with in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Company operates its businesses in three segments: electric, gas and other. As part of its electric segment, the Company provides water service to over three towns in Missouri. The Company through its subsidiary, The Empire District Gas Company (EDG), is engaged in the distribution of natural gas in Missouri. The Company’s other segment consists of fiber optics business. It supplies electric service at retail to approximately 120 incorporated communities and to various unincorporated areas, and at wholesale to over four municipally owned distribution systems. Its gas operations serve customers in northwest, north central and west central Missouri. It serves a group of customers, including residential, commercial and industrial customers.

National Grid Transco Company Profile

National Grid plc is an electricity and gas utility company focused on transmission and distribution activities in electricity and gas in both the United Kingdom and the United States. The Company’s segments include UK Electricity Transmission, which is engaged in high voltage electricity transmission networks in Great Britain; UK Gas Transmission, which is the gas transmission network in Great Britain and United Kingdom liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage activities; UK Gas Distribution, which includes approximately four of the eight regional networks of Great Britain’s gas distribution system, and US Regulated, which includes gas distribution networks, electricity distribution networks and high voltage electricity transmission networks in New York, and New England and electricity generation facilities in New York. Its other activities relate to non-regulated businesses and other commercial operations not included within the above segments.

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