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XEL, PPL, and DUK: Analyzing Utilities’ Valuation

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Nov. 20 2020, Updated 12:53 p.m. ET

Valuation

In this part, we’ll see which utilities are currently expensive or valued fairly. Xcel Energy (XEL) is trading at an EV-to-EBITDA (enterprise value to earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) valuation of 10x. Its five-year historical average valuation multiple stands at 10x. The industry average is at 10.5x. Compared to the historical and industry average, Xcel Energy seems to be trading at a fair valuation.

The EV-to-EBITDA ratio indicates whether the stock is undervalued or overvalued irrespective of its capital structure. The enterprise value is the combination of a company’s debt and equity minus its cash holdings. We considered an EBITDA of the trailing 12 months for this calculation.

In comparison, Duke Energy (DUK) is trading at a valuation multiple of 10.3x. PPL Corporation (PPL) is trading at 11x. Southern Company (SO) is trading at a multiple of 12x.

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PE ratio

Let’s see how utilities are valued compared to the PE (price-to-earnings) ratio. Xcel Energy is trading at a PE ratio of 19x, while Duke Energy (DUK) is trading near a PE ratio of 20x. Southern Company is trading at a PE ratio of 19x.

Investors favored utilities despite their towering valuations due to their attractive risk-reward proposition. Their premium yield of nearly 4% is way better than what broader markets offer. They yield a premium of ~100 basis points compared to Treasuries. It will be interesting to see how the yield gap turns out if the Fed actually sticks to its three quarter-point rate hike target in 2017.

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