Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

PG&E's Stock in 3 Charts

By Justin Loiseau – Feb 29, 2016 at 2:05PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

A pictorial peek into PG&E stock.

Source: PG&E Corporation. 

As market mayhem continues, income investors are on the hunt for safe and reliable stocks. Historically, utilities such as PG&E Corporation (PCG 0.97%) have been some of the most stalwart stocks out there. But they can also be complicated to understand, and their future is arguably more complicated than it's ever been before. To better understand PG&E stock's situation, let's take a closer look at how it compares with Exelon Corporation (EXC -0.77%) and Duke Energy Corporation (DUK -2.19%) in three charts.

1. Total return price

PCG Total Return Price Chart

PCG Total Return Price data by YCharts

First and foremost, examining stock prices alone puts PG&E stock at a disadvantage. It and other utilities dole out sizable dividends (more on this later), so examining each stock's total return price is the only way to accurately determine what value investors are receiving.

Over the past five years, PG&E stock's total return price has managed to increase 50%. That's well above Exelon's flatline, but falls behind both Duke Energy and the S&P 500 Total Return (INDEX:^SPTXR). Regardless of which stock has currently come out ahead, this chart should serve as a warning to investors: utilities are not the dependable stocks they used to be, and shareholders could find themselves burned if they expect steady returns.

2. Dividends

PCG Dividend Chart

PCG Dividend data by YCharts

So with erratic stock prices, are PG&E, Duke Energy, and Exelon still delivering dividends? It depends. For Exelon, its up-and-down (and ultimately down) distributions have left income investors will smaller absolute dividends than they enjoyed five years ago. PG&E stock has kept its own distribution steady, while Duke Energy has continued on its "dividend staircase" course, inching distributions every year.

But for those looking to invest down, dividend growth doesn't tell you where current yields stand. Here, it's PG&E stock that brings up the rear with a 3.2% yield, surpassed by both Exelon (3.9%) and Duke Energy (4.4%).

3. Keeping it clean

Source: PG&E Corporation 

Let's take a break from stock analysis to take a look at the actual company that is PG&E. In a word, PG&E is clean. One of the major worries for many utilities is how new regulation will affect their energy portfolios. In particular, the federal Clean Power Plan and state-level renewable energy regulations have added significantly more risk to some company's upside. For a company like Exelon Corporation that relies on nuclear power in Illinois for one-third of its portfolio, any negative nuclear regulation or outsized support for other energies would be disastrous. Coal has been Duke Energy's biggest worry, and the utility has already retired nearly 5,000 MW worth and has potential plans to shutter an additional 4,000 MW. 

As the preceding chart indicates, PG&E Corporation has already made major advances toward clean energy. More than half of its portfolio is greenhouse gas free, and one-quarter of its energy portfolio already meets renewable-energy standards. While other utilities will have to make major retirements and additions to appease state and federal regulators, PG&E is simply ahead of the green game. 

Buy PG&E?
Charts such as the ones here are an excellent way to begin forming an investment thesis. For investors looking for a relatively safe and forward-thinking utility, these charts indicate PG&E is a solid match. The utility might not have as much upside as others, but it's relatively low-risk offering and steady dividend should mean a lot to income investors.

Justin Loiseau has no position in any stocks mentioned, but he does use electricity. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

PG&E Corporation Stock Quote
PG&E Corporation
PCG
$12.50 (0.97%) $0.12
Exelon Corporation Stock Quote
Exelon Corporation
EXC
$37.46 (-0.77%) $0.29
Duke Energy Corporation Stock Quote
Duke Energy Corporation
DUK
$93.02 (-2.19%) $-2.08

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
332%
 
S&P 500 Returns
104%

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/01/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.