Utilities are like bonds with growth

Article Excerpt

With bonds yielding just 2% to 3%, we believe that income-seeking investors are better off sticking with high-quality utility stocks, such as these four electricity generators. All have consistently posted strong earnings, and have long histories of raising their dividends. Unlike bond-interest payments, which are taxed as regular income, their dividends qualify for the dividend tax credit. They also have greater capital-gains potential. TRANSALTA CORP. $20 (Toronto symbol TA; Conservative Growth Portfolio, Utilities sector; Shares outstanding: 197.8 million; Market cap: $4 billion; Price-to-sales ratio: 1.3; SI Rating: Average) operates over 50 electrical-power plants in Canada, the United States and Australia. TransAlta uses coal to generate 60% of its electricity, and owns three coal mines (two in Alberta and one in Washington State). This helps keep its costs down. Natural gas fuels 30% of the company’s electricity production, and hydroelectric and other sources account for 10%. This heavy dependence on coal has made TransAlta a target for environmentalists. To comply with tougher carbon-emission regulations,…

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