Zacks Investment Research downgraded
Middlesex Water Company
) to a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell) on March 15, 2013.
Why the Downgrade?
Middlesex Water reported its financial results for the fourth
quarter and year 2012 on March 7, 2013. The company's earnings
per share came in at 17 cents, up from 12 cents reported in the
year-ago but down 5.6% from the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 18
Revenue grew by 16.2% year over year to $27.1 million in the
fourth quarter. The top-line improvement to a large extent was
negated by an 11.7% increase in operating expenses. Of these,
operating and maintenance expense grew by 13.3% while
depreciation and other taxes soared by 6.2% and 8.8%,
respectively. Lower overall other income and higher interest
charges also impacted net results negatively.
Despite year-over-year improvements, a lack of momentum in the
quarter resulted in a downward revision of earnings estimates for
Middlesex Water. In the last 30 days, the Zacks Consensus
Estimate for 2013 went down by 9.3% to 97 cents per share while
that for 2014 plummeted by 7.5% to 98 cents.
Also, two quarters of each negative and positive earnings
surprise has resulted in an overall negative earnings surprise of
8.4% in the last trailing four quarters. Currently, for the first
quarter 2013 of Middlesex Water, we have an Earnings ESP (Read:
Zacks Earnings ESP: A Better Method
) of -5.9%.
Other Stocks to Consider
Middlesex Water provides water, wastewater and related services
in New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. It currently has a
market capitalization of $309 million. The company's prime
Artesian Resources Corp
) posted earnings of 20 cents per share in its fourth quarter
2012, roughly 4.8% below the Zacks Consensus estimate of 21
Other stocks to watch out for in the industry are
Aqua America Inc.
), with a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and
American States Water Company
) with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
ARTESIAN RES (ARTNA): Free Stock Analysis
AMER STATES WTR (AWR): Free Stock Analysis
MIDDLESEX WATER (MSEX): Free Stock Analysis
AQUA AMER INC (WTR): Free Stock Analysis
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