Edison International (NYSE: EIX) and UNITIL Corporation (NYSE:UTL) are both electric utilities – nec companies, but which is the superior business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, profitability, earnings, risk, dividends, valuation and analyst recommendations.

Risk and Volatility

Edison International has a beta of 0.24, indicating that its stock price is 76% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, UNITIL Corporation has a beta of 0.21, indicating that its stock price is 79% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Edison International and UNITIL Corporation’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio NetIncome Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Edison International $11.87 billion 2.25 $1.43 billion $4.38 18.68
UNITIL Corporation $383.40 million 1.84 $27.10 million $2.00 24.96

Edison International has higher revenue and earnings than UNITIL Corporation. Edison International is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than UNITIL Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Dividends

Edison International pays an annual dividend of $2.17 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.7%. UNITIL Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.44 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.9%. Edison International pays out 49.5% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. UNITIL Corporation pays out 72.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Edison International has increased its dividend for 12 consecutive years and UNITIL Corporation has increased its dividend for 2 consecutive years.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

80.9% of Edison International shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 59.1% of UNITIL Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.4% of Edison International shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 2.5% of UNITIL Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares Edison International and UNITIL Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Edison International 13.18% 10.84% 2.99%
UNITIL Corporation 7.09% 9.39% 2.45%

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current recommendations and price targets for Edison International and UNITIL Corporation, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Edison International 0 6 6 0 2.50
UNITIL Corporation 0 1 0 0 2.00

Edison International currently has a consensus price target of $85.45, indicating a potential upside of 4.42%. UNITIL Corporation has a consensus price target of $47.00, indicating a potential downside of 5.83%. Given Edison International’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Edison International is more favorable than UNITIL Corporation.

Summary

Edison International beats UNITIL Corporation on 14 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Edison International

Edison International is the holding company of Southern California Edison Company (SCE). As of December 31, 2016, SCE, a public utility, was primarily engaged in the business of supplying and delivering electricity to an approximately 50,000 square mile area of southern California. The Company is also the parent company of Edison Energy Group, Inc. (Edison Energy Group), a holding company for subsidiaries engaged in pursuing competitive business opportunities across energy services and distributed solar to commercial and industrial customers. SCE’s projects include West of Devers, Mesa Substation, Alberhill System, Riverside Transmission Reliability, Eldorado-Lugo-Mohave Upgrade, Tehachapi and Coolwater-Lugo. As of December 31, 2016, the West of Devers Project consisted of upgrading and reconfiguring approximately 48 miles of existing 220 kilovolt (kV) transmission lines between the Devers, El Casco, Vista and San Bernardino substations.

About UNITIL Corporation

Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company. The Company’s principal business is the local distribution of electricity in the southeastern seacoast and state capital regions of New Hampshire and the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts and the local distribution of natural gas in southeastern New Hampshire, portions of southern Maine to the Lewiston-Auburn area and in the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts. Its segments include utility gas operations, utility electric operations and non-regulated. Its operations include natural gas operations; natural gas distribution utility operations; gas transmission pipeline operations; electric distribution utility operations, and non-regulated and other non-utility operations. As of December 31, 2016, it was engaged in the distribution of electricity and natural gas to approximately 184,200 customers throughout its service territories in the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

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