MDU Resources Group (NYSE: MDU) and CenterPoint Energy (NYSE:CNP) are both mid-cap utilities companies, but which is the better stock? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their institutional ownership, dividends, risk, analyst recommendations, profitability, valuation and earnings.

Dividends

MDU Resources Group pays an annual dividend of $0.77 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.9%. CenterPoint Energy pays an annual dividend of $1.07 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.7%. MDU Resources Group pays out 67.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. CenterPoint Energy pays out 77.0% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. MDU Resources Group has increased its dividend for 11 consecutive years and CenterPoint Energy has increased its dividend for 7 consecutive years.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

63.6% of MDU Resources Group shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 76.9% of CenterPoint Energy shares are owned by institutional investors. 1.0% of MDU Resources Group shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.2% of CenterPoint Energy shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a stock is poised for long-term growth.

Profitability

This table compares MDU Resources Group and CenterPoint Energy’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
MDU Resources Group 5.37% 10.24% 3.76%
CenterPoint Energy 6.86% 16.45% 2.65%

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares MDU Resources Group and CenterPoint Energy’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
MDU Resources Group $4.23 billion 1.24 $617.43 million $1.15 23.43
CenterPoint Energy $8.85 billion 1.43 $2.08 billion $1.39 21.09

CenterPoint Energy has higher revenue and earnings than MDU Resources Group. CenterPoint Energy is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than MDU Resources Group, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for MDU Resources Group and CenterPoint Energy, as reported by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
MDU Resources Group 0 2 1 0 2.33
CenterPoint Energy 0 6 1 0 2.14

MDU Resources Group presently has a consensus target price of $32.00, indicating a potential upside of 18.78%. CenterPoint Energy has a consensus target price of $28.43, indicating a potential downside of 3.01%. Given MDU Resources Group’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts plainly believe MDU Resources Group is more favorable than CenterPoint Energy.

Volatility & Risk

MDU Resources Group has a beta of 0.91, indicating that its share price is 9% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, CenterPoint Energy has a beta of 0.62, indicating that its share price is 38% less volatile than the S&P 500.

MDU Resources Group Company Profile

MDU Resources Group, Inc. is engaged in regulated energy delivery and construction materials and services business. The Company’s businesses segments are electric, natural gas distribution, pipeline and midstream, construction materials and contracting, and construction services. The electric segment generates, transmits and distributes electricity. The natural gas distribution segment distributes natural gas. The pipeline and midstream segment provides natural gas transportation, underground storage, processing and gathering services, as well as oil gathering. The construction materials and contracting segment mines aggregates and markets crushed stone, sand, gravel and related construction materials, including ready-mixed concrete, asphalt, liquid asphalt and other value-added products. The construction services segment provides utility construction services in constructing and maintaining electric and communication lines, and external lighting and traffic signalization.

CenterPoint Energy Company Profile

CenterPoint Energy, Inc. is a public utility holding company. The Company, through its subsidiaries, owns and operates electric transmission and distribution facilities, and natural gas distribution facilities. The Electric Transmission & Distribution segment provides electric transmission and distribution services to retail electric providers. Its Natural Gas Distribution segment offers intrastate natural gas sales to and natural gas transportation and distribution for residential, commercial and industrial customers. Its Energy Services segment includes non-rate regulated gas sales and transportation and storage services for commercial and industrial customers. Its Midstream Investments segment includes equity investment in Enable that owns, operates and develops natural gas and crude oil assets. Its Other Operations segment includes office buildings and other real estate used in its business operations and other corporate operations.

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