U.S. Markets closed

Here's Why You Should Invest in Atmos Energy (ATO) Stock Now

Zacks Equity Research

Solid capital expenditure plan, returns within a year of investment, customer additions and positive regulatory outcomes will continue to boost Atmos Energy Corporation’s ATO performance.

Earnings estimates for the company for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020 are likely to rise 8.5% and 6.8% on a year-over-year basis to $4.34 and $4.63 per share, respectively. Revenue estimates for fiscal 2019 and fiscal 2020 are likely to increase 41.4% and 12% on a year-over-year basis to $3.15 billion and $3.53 billion, respectively.

Let’s focus on the factors that make Atmos Energy an appropriate investment option at the moment.

Zacks Rank & Earnings Surprise History

Atmos Energy currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

The company’s average four-quarter positive earnings surprise is 5.36%.

Long-Term Growth & Price Movement

The company’s long-term (three to five years) earnings growth is pegged at 6.70%.



In the past 12 months, Atmos Energy’s shares have gained 18.3% compared with the industry’s rise of 6.5%.

Investments

Atmos Energy has a sturdy capital expenditure plan, which enables it to enhance safety and reliability of its natural gas pipelines. The company’s total capital expenditure in fiscal 2019 is expected in the range of $1.65-$1.75 billion. Since 2011, the company has invested $6 billion in replacing aging infrastructure and modernizing the system. Its long-term capital expenditure plans call for investment of $9-$10 billion over the next five years, of which 80% will be spent on safety and improving the reliability of operations.

Dividend Growth

Given the solid capital-expenditure plans, addition of customers and increase in consumption, we can expect that the company will maintain its annual dividend-increase policy over the long run. Consistent performance of the company has enabled it to reward its shareholders through consistent increase in annual dividend rates. On Nov 7, 2018, the board of directors of Atmos Energy approved an 8.2% increase in annual dividend, marking the 35th consecutive year of dividend hike.

Return on Investments

More than 85% of Atmos Energy’s annual capital investments start earning returns within six months and nearly 99% in no more than 12 months. Customers and investors gain from the constructive rate outcomes. Owing to positive regulatory outcome, an increase of $80.1 million and $110 million in rates had been implemented in fiscal 2018 and fiscal 2019, respectively. Nearly $87.1 million rate cases are in progress for implementation in this fiscal, which will support in the coming fiscal.

Other Key Picks

Some other top-ranked stocks from the same sector  are Chesapeake Utilities Corporation CPK, The AES Corporation AES and IDACORP, Inc IDA, each holding a Zacks Rank of 2.

Long-term earnings growth of Chesapeake Utilities, AES Corporation and IDACORP is pegged at 7%, 8.49% and 3.85%, respectively.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2019 earnings of Chesapeake Utilities, AES Corporation and IDACORP inched up 0.5%, 0.7% and 0.2% to $3.73, $ 1.34 and $4.47 in the past 60 days, respectively.

Today's Best Stocks from Zacks

Would you like to see the updated picks from our best market-beating strategies? From 2017 through 2018, while the S&P 500 gained +15.8%, five of our screens returned +38.0%, +61.3%, +61.6%, +68.1%, and +98.3%.

This outperformance has not just been a recent phenomenon. From 2000 – 2018, while the S&P averaged +4.8% per year, our top strategies averaged up to +56.2% per year.

See their latest picks free >>


Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
 
IDACORP, Inc. (IDA) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
The AES Corporation (AES) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Atmos Energy Corporation (ATO) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Chesapeake Utilities Corporation (CPK) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
To read this article on Zacks.com click here.
 
Zacks Investment Research