As the saying goes, slow and steady wins the race.
In the world of investing, that's the case more often than most people realize. But investing in slow and steady companies isn't exciting or sexy even if it can make you money. One company that has been steadily profitable for investors is National Grid (NYSE:NGG), but is it a buy today?
What is National Grid?
National Grid is a utility company with electric and gas transmission and distribution assets in the United Kingdom and Eastern U.S. Most of its business is regulated, meaning little to no competition and steady long-term returns.
Unlike a lot of utilities in the U.S., which own power plants as well as transmission and distribution lines, National Grid focuses on moving energy from point to point rather than creating it. This helps reduce risk for the business, especially here in the U.S. where many utilities have been disrupted by the low cost of natural gas and a boom in renewable energy.
As a result, the company has very steady operational results, which hasn't been the case for a lot of U.S. utilities lately. It also has very few threats from competing technologies.
In fact, National Grid is benefiting from the recent surge in renewable energy, both from utility-scale projects and rooftop solar. Utility-scale projects require transmission lines to connect to the grid, which helps National Grid, and rooftop solar can put demands on the distribution network that requires upgrades to cities around the world. London, for example, is building power tunnels deep below the city that will be used to rewire the city for the renewable energy future. National Grid is the one building that infrastructure.
Options for future growth
Not only is renewable energy putting demands on electrical infrastructure today, it's providing growth options for the future as well.
I mentioned that transmission and distribution infrastructure will have to be built and upgraded to accommodate renewable energy, and that's true around the world. As a central player in the grid, National Grid could also be called upon to play a role in the energy management of the future, including demand response infrastructure.
Energy storage could play a major role in building a cleaner and more reliable grid, and it makes sense for transmission and distribution providers to play a role in that infrastructure. It's a potentially large opportunity for National Grid, and makes what might be a threat into a big opportunity.
Infrastructure isn't going anywhere
There are a lot of threats to existing energy utilities, but National Grid happens to be well positioned for those changes. Most of the changes involve the decline of coal, how to deal with intermittent renewable energy, or what to do when customers can create their own energy. But no matter what changes, the grid infrastructure will be needed, and that's what National Grid does best.
This won't be a sexy stock or a high-growth stock, but the company makes money today and will for years into the future. If that's the kind of investment you're looking for, then National Grid is worth another look.