On Mar 12, Zacks Investment Research upgraded
) to a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
ATMOS ENERGY CP (ATO): Free Stock Analysis
QEP RESOURCES (QEP): Free Stock Analysis
QUESTAR (STR): Free Stock Analysis Report
SOUTHWEST GAS (SWX): Free Stock Analysis
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Why the Upgrade?
Shares of Questar are trading near their 52-week high of $24.05.
In fact, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based natural gas-focused
energy firm has seen its stock price climb some 18% since the
beginning of the year.
Despite this price appreciation, we remain optimistic on the
firm's near-term prospects, supported by consistency in its
earnings/cash flows, attractive fundamentals and a positive
QEP Resources Inc.
) spin-off in Jun 2010 - the company's erstwhile unregulated
exploration and production business - Questar has transformed
itself into a company, which focuses exclusively on exploring
natural gas resources while serving customers domestically and
worldwide. The business units of Questar demonstrate strong
development prospects, which are expected to drive a high growth
rate of production and reserve in the years to come.
It pays an annual dividend of 68 cents per share, yielding a
stable 2.9%. The company increased its dividend payout by 5% in
Aug 2012, marking the 40th dividend increase in as many years.
Questar has a long and consistent dividend paying record. The
company has paid dividends in each of the last 273 quarters. As
such, we believe Questar's dividend to be safe and reliable.
Other positives in the Questar story include its focus on
long-term contracts and the efficient managerial team. An
above-average credit quality adds to the bullish sentiment.
Lastly, Questar continues to reap the rewards of its prudent cost
cutting initiatives. As a result of its cost efficiency gains,
the company has been able to reduce operating expenses, thereby
improving its profitability.
Other Stocks to Consider
In addition to Questar, one can look at
Atmos Energy Corp.
Southwest Gas Corp.
) as attractive investments. Both these gas distribution
utilities - sporting a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) - offer value and are
worth accumulating at current levels.