Sometimes, companies get punished through absolutely no fault of their own. Such was the case for Empire District Electric (NYSE: EDE ) , a utility provider operating in Kansas, Oklahoma and -- most notably this year -- Missouri.
Take a look at the stock's chart this year, and you'll be able to pinpoint a major one-time event.
Any guesses as to what that one-time event was? Essentially, it was the horrendous tornado that ripped through communities like Joplin, Mo., leaving the town looking like a war zone. But if we're going to be technical, the stock dropped the most after the company announced it would be suspending its dividend for a year -- a clear effect of the twister.
Because most investors in utilities are in it for the dividends -- and have no illusions of massive share price appreciation -- this was pretty devastating news. It led the Fool's own Jim Royal to point out the safety of investing in dividend payers like Brookfield Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BIP ) over Empire because of their diverse holdings that aren't as susceptible to isolated catastrophes.
But in reality, not all was lost for shareholders. After bottoming out at $18.01 in May, the stock has recovered nicely, and is down less than 5% for the year. Insiders, who should have a better idea than anyone else of the company's status, snatched up shares in June after surveying the company's position.
Furthermore, the company has also let investors know that they should expect a $1.00 annual dividend starting in 2012. If that holds true, Empire's yield would be a nice 4.7% at today's prices, which is actually on-par with or better than fellow utilities Southern Company (NYSE: SO ) , Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK ) , and National Grid (NYSE: NGG ) .
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