Head to Head Comparison: Unitil (NYSE:UTL) vs. Great Plains Energy (GXP)

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Unitil (NYSE: UTL) and Great Plains Energy (NYSE:GXP) are both utilities companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, dividends, risk, earnings, profitability, analyst recommendations and valuation.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current recommendations for Unitil and Great Plains Energy, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Unitil 0 2 1 0 2.33
Great Plains Energy 0 2 4 0 2.67

Unitil currently has a consensus target price of $48.67, indicating a potential upside of 2.28%. Great Plains Energy has a consensus target price of $31.25, indicating a potential upside of 0.22%. Given Unitil’s higher probable upside, research analysts plainly believe Unitil is more favorable than Great Plains Energy.

Profitability

This table compares Unitil and Great Plains Energy’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Unitil 7.14% 9.38% 2.47%
Great Plains Energy -3.92% 5.25% 1.78%

Insider & Institutional Ownership

62.4% of Unitil shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 86.0% of Great Plains Energy shares are held by institutional investors. 3.4% of Unitil shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.4% of Great Plains Energy shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares Unitil and Great Plains Energy’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Unitil $406.20 million 1.74 $29.00 million $2.06 23.10
Great Plains Energy $2.71 billion 2.48 -$106.20 million $1.74 17.92

Unitil has higher earnings, but lower revenue than Great Plains Energy. Great Plains Energy is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Unitil, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Dividends

Unitil pays an annual dividend of $1.46 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.1%. Great Plains Energy pays an annual dividend of $1.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.5%. Unitil pays out 70.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Great Plains Energy pays out 63.2% 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. Unitil has raised its dividend for 3 consecutive years and Great Plains Energy has raised its dividend for 7 consecutive years. Great Plains Energy is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Volatility & Risk

Unitil has a beta of 0.09, meaning that its share price is 91% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Great Plains Energy has a beta of 0.33, meaning that its share price is 67% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Summary

Great Plains Energy beats Unitil on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

About Unitil

Unitil Corporation, a public utility holding company, engages in the distribution of electricity and natural gas in the United States. It operates through three segments: Utility Gas Operations, Utility Electric Operations, and Non-Regulated. The company distributes electricity in the southeastern seacoast and state capital regions of New Hampshire, and the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts; and distributes 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. It also operates 86 miles of interstate underground natural gas transmission pipeline that provides interstate natural gas pipeline access and transportation services primarily in Maine and New Hampshire. In addition, the company provides energy brokering and advisory services to commercial and industrial customers; and real estate management services. It serves approximately 105,000 electric customers and 81,300 natural gas customers. Unitil Corporation was incorporated in 1984 and is headquartered in Hampton, New Hampshire.

About Great Plains Energy

Great Plains Energy Incorporated, through its subsidiaries, generates, transmits, distributes, and sells electricity. It also provides regulated steam services in St. Joseph, Missouri. The company generates electricity using coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil, wind, solar, landfill gas, and hydroelectric resources. It has approximately 6,500 megawatts of generating capacity. The company sells electricity to approximately 867,100 customers in western Missouri and eastern Kansas, including approximately 764,200 residences and 100,400 commercial firms, as well as 2,500 industrials, municipalities, and other electric utilities. Great Plains Energy Incorporated was founded in 1919 and is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

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