Based on the aggregated intelligence of 180,000-plus investors participating in Motley Fool CAPS, the Fool's free investing community, natural gas distributor Northwest Natural Gas (NYSE: NWN) has earned a coveted five-star ranking.

With that in mind, let's take a closer look at NW Natural's business and see what CAPS investors are saying about the stock right now.

NW Natural facts

Headquarters (Founded) Portland, Ore. (1910)
Market Cap $1.23 billion
Industry Gas utilities
Trailing-12-Month Revenue $848.7 million
Management

CEO Gregg Kantor (since 2008)

CFO David Anderson (since 2004)

Return on Equity (Average, Past 3 Years) 10.6%
Cash/Debt $3.5 million / $788.1 million
Dividend Yield 3.8%
Competitors Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR)

Sources: Capital IQ (a division of Standard & Poor's) and Motley Fool CAPS.

On CAPS, 95% of the 129 members who have rated NW Natural believe the stock will outperform the S&P 500 going forward. These bulls include robertshrestha and eksummers620.

Just yesterday, robertshrestha tapped NW Natural as a solid income opportunity: "Juicy dividend yield, has grown that divvy for an awesome 55 straight years, above-average customer growth. What's not to like?!"

In fact, NW Natural has grown its dividend at a solid rate of 5.2% over the past three years. That's faster than rival Portland General Electric (1%), as well as industry peers like AGL Resources (NYSE: AGL) (2%) and National Fuel Gas (NYSE: NFG) (3%).

CAPS member eksummers620 elaborates on the bull case:

Here's a regional gas storage and distribution company that's been in business for over 150 years. "Storage and distribution" means they own tanks and pipelines and serve retail customers -- they aren't doing exploration or drilling, but are instead buying gas wholesale and selling it retail. That in turn means that their cash flow isn't at the mercy of global price fluctuations, and that makes it likely that they can keep paying -- and hopefully increasing -- those dividends.

What do you think about Northwest Natural Gas, or any other stock for that matter? If you want to retire rich, you need to put together the best portfolio you can. Owning exceptional stocks is a surefire way to secure your financial future, and on Motley Fool CAPS, thousands of investors are working every day to find them. CAPS is 100% free, so get started!

Fool contributor Brian Pacampara owns no position in any of the companies mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

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