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A month has gone by since the last earnings report for WEC Energy Group (WEC). Shares have lost about 2.4% in that time frame, outperforming the S&P 500.
Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is WEC Energy due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important catalysts.
WEC Energy's Q3 Earnings Beat Mark, 2021 EPS View Up
WEC Energy delivered third-quarter 2021 earnings per share of 92 cents, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 82 cents by 12.2%. Also, the bottom line improved 9.5% from the year-ago quarter’s 84 cents per share.
Results benefited from economic recovery, operating efficiency and warmer-than-expected weather.
Operating revenues of $1,746.5 million topped the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $1,684 million by 3.7%. Also, the top line grew 5.8% from $1,651 million in the year-ago quarter.
Highlights of the Release
In the third quarter of 2021, residential use of electricity rose 0.3% year over year. Electricity consumption by small commercial and industrial customers increased 3.5% year over year. Electricity used by large commercial and industrial customers excluding iron ore mines improved 3.8% on a year-over-year basis. On a weather-normal basis, retail deliveries of electricity excluding the iron ore mine went up 2.5%.
Natural gas deliveries in Wisconsin excluding gas used for power generation moved up 1% during the reported quarter. On a weather-normal basis, natural gas deliveries rose 2.5%.
Total operating expenses for the third quarter amounted to $1,356.5 million, up 5.9% from the year-ago quarter’s $1,280.8 million.
Operating income came in at $390 million, increasing 5.3% from the prior-year period’s $370.2 million.
At the end of third-quarter 2021, the company was serving additional 8,000 electric and 15,000 natural gas customers from the year-ago quarter's levels.
As of Sep 30, 2021, WEC Energy had cash and cash equivalents of $26 million compared with $24.8 million as of Dec 31, 2020.
As of Sep 30, 2021, the company had long-term debt of $12,678.1 million compared with $11,728.1 million on Dec 31, 2020.
The company’s net cash provided by operating activities in the first nine months of 2021 was $2,006.7 million compared with $1,949.7 million in the comparable period of 2020.
Capital expenditure in the first three quarters was $1,627.9 million compared with $1,618.7 million in the comparable period of last year.
The company lifted its current-year earnings guidance to $4.05-$4.07 per share from the prior range of $4.02-$4.05 with expectation to reach the higher end of the latest projection when results are announced. Also, the Zacks Consensus Estimate for the same is $4.07, which meets the upper end of the utility’s current guided range.
How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?
In the past month, investors have witnessed a downward trend in estimates review. The consensus estimate has shifted -10.27% due to these changes.
At this time, WEC Energy has an average Growth Score of C, a grade with the same score on the momentum front. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of C on the value side, putting it in the middle 20% for this investment strategy.
Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of C. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.
Estimates have been broadly trending downward for the stock, and the magnitude of this revision indicates a downward shift. Notably, WEC Energy has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.
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