UNITIL Corporation (NYSE: UTL) and Atlantic Power Corporation (NYSE:AT) are both small-cap utilities companies, but which is the superior investment? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their institutional ownership, dividends, risk, valuation, analyst recommendations, profitability and earnings.

Profitability

This table compares UNITIL Corporation and Atlantic Power Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
UNITIL Corporation 7.52% 9.88% 2.61%
Atlantic Power Corporation -25.71% 27.03% 1.21%

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent recommendations for UNITIL Corporation and Atlantic Power Corporation, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
UNITIL Corporation 0 1 0 0 2.00
Atlantic Power Corporation 0 3 0 0 2.00

UNITIL Corporation currently has a consensus price target of $47.00, indicating a potential downside of 9.93%. Atlantic Power Corporation has a consensus price target of $2.60, indicating a potential upside of 1.96%. Given Atlantic Power Corporation’s higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Atlantic Power Corporation is more favorable than UNITIL Corporation.

Dividends

UNITIL Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.44 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.8%. Atlantic Power Corporation does not pay a dividend. UNITIL Corporation pays out 68.9% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. UNITIL Corporation has increased its dividend for 2 consecutive years.

Volatility and Risk

UNITIL Corporation has a beta of 0.21, meaning that its share price is 79% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Atlantic Power Corporation has a beta of 1.69, meaning that its share price is 69% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Institutional & Insider Ownership

59.4% of UNITIL Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 45.8% of Atlantic Power Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 2.5% of UNITIL Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.6% of Atlantic Power Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that endowments, hedge funds and large money managers believe a company is poised for long-term growth.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares UNITIL Corporation and Atlantic Power Corporation’s top-line revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
UNITIL Corporation $389.90 million 1.89 $116.50 million $2.09 24.97
Atlantic Power Corporation $417.00 million 0.70 $179.50 million ($0.96) -2.66

Atlantic Power Corporation has higher revenue and earnings than UNITIL Corporation. Atlantic Power Corporation is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than UNITIL Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Summary

UNITIL Corporation beats Atlantic Power Corporation on 8 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About UNITIL Corporation

Unitil Corporation is a public utility holding company. The Company’s principal business is the local distribution of electricity in the southeastern seacoast and state capital regions of New Hampshire and the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts and the local distribution of natural gas in southeastern New Hampshire, portions of southern Maine to the Lewiston-Auburn area and in the greater Fitchburg area of north central Massachusetts. Its segments include utility gas operations, utility electric operations and non-regulated. Its operations include natural gas operations; natural gas distribution utility operations; gas transmission pipeline operations; electric distribution utility operations, and non-regulated and other non-utility operations. As of December 31, 2016, it was engaged in the distribution of electricity and natural gas to approximately 184,200 customers throughout its service territories in the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine.

About Atlantic Power Corporation

Atlantic Power Corporation (Atlantic Power) owns and operates a fleet of power generation assets in the United States and Canada. The Company’s power generation projects sell electricity to utilities and other commercial customers. Atlantic Power’s segments include East U.S., West U.S. and Canada. The Company’s East U.S. segment comprises natural gas, biomass, coal and hydro projects. The Company’s projects under the West U.S. segment include Naval Station, Naval Training Center, North Island, Oxnard, Manchief and Frederickson, which are focused on natural gas, and Koma Kulshan, which is focused on hydro. Under the Canada segment, the Company’s projects located in British Columbia include Mamquam, Mamquam and Williams Lake. Its Calstock and Tunis projects are located in Ontario. The Company’s portfolio consisted of interests in 19 operational power generation projects across nine states in the United States and two provinces in Canada, as of December 31, 2016.

Receive News & Ratings for UNITIL Corporation Daily - Enter your email address below to receive a concise daily summary of the latest news and analysts' ratings for UNITIL Corporation and related companies with MarketBeat.com's FREE daily email newsletter.