Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Water Business is an Old Business: Water Stocks with Long Histories

American Water (AWK) is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Actually, the transportation of water is an extremely old business. The Assyrians built a 50 mile long limestone aqueduct in the 7th century BC, which carried water through a valley to Nineveh, their capital. It measured about 30 feet high and almost 1000 feet wide.

American Water is a New Jersey based company that provides drinking water and wastewater services to 30 states and 2 Canadian provinces. The stock trades at 17 times forward earnings and pays a yield of about 3%. The current annual dividend rate is 92 cents per share, up from 68 cents per share for the previous year, a 35% increase. Earnings for the latest quarter were up 10.7% on a 2.3% increase in revenues.

Middlesex Water Co. (MSEX) is another water utility that has been around for over a century, as it was founded in 1897. The company primarily serves New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The stock has a forward price to earnings ratio of 19, which is a bit on the high side, however, it pays a generous yield of 4%. The company just raised its dividend on November 10. Earnings were down over 10% for the latest quarter. just updated its free list of dividend paying water utility stocks, which shows the PE, the forward PE, the price to earnings growth ratio, and the yield.

Disclosure: Author didn't own any of the above at the time the article was written.


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