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FTS vs. UTL: Which Stock Is the Better Value Option?

Zacks Equity Research

Investors interested in stocks from the Utility - Electric Power sector have probably already heard of Fortis (FTS) and Unitil (UTL). But which of these two stocks offers value investors a better bang for their buck right now? We'll need to take a closer look.

Everyone has their own methods for finding great value opportunities, but our model includes pairing an impressive grade in the Value category of our Style Scores system with a strong Zacks Rank. The Zacks Rank favors stocks with strong earnings estimate revision trends, and our Style Scores highlight companies with specific traits.

Fortis and Unitil are sporting Zacks Ranks of #2 (Buy) and #4 (Sell), respectively, right now. The Zacks Rank favors stocks that have recently seen positive revisions to their earnings estimates, so investors should rest assured that FTS has an improving earnings outlook. But this is just one piece of the puzzle for value investors.

Value investors are also interested in a number of tried-and-true valuation metrics that help show when a company is undervalued at its current share price levels.

The Value category of the Style Scores system identifies undervalued companies by looking at a number of key metrics. These include the long-favored P/E ratio, P/S ratio, earnings yield, cash flow per share, and a variety of other fundamentals that help us determine a company's fair value.

FTS currently has a forward P/E ratio of 19.57, while UTL has a forward P/E of 21.03. We also note that FTS has a PEG ratio of 3.30. This popular figure is similar to the widely-used P/E ratio, but the PEG ratio also considers a company's expected EPS growth rate. UTL currently has a PEG ratio of 4.37.

Another notable valuation metric for FTS is its P/B ratio of 1.18. The P/B is a method of comparing a stock's market value to its book value, which is defined as total assets minus total liabilities. By comparison, UTL has a P/B of 1.83.

These are just a few of the metrics contributing to FTS's Value grade of B and UTL's Value grade of C.

FTS is currently sporting an improving earnings outlook, which makes it stick out in our Zacks Rank model. And, based on the above valuation metrics, we feel that FTS is likely the superior value option right now.


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