Westar Energy (NYSE: WR) and Atlantic Power (NYSE:AT) are both utilities companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their profitability, analyst recommendations, valuation, institutional ownership, dividends, earnings and risk.

Volatility and Risk

Westar Energy has a beta of 0.42, indicating that its stock price is 58% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Atlantic Power has a beta of 1.73, indicating that its stock price is 73% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

Westar Energy pays an annual dividend of $1.60 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.8%. Atlantic Power does not pay a dividend. Westar Energy pays out 66.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Westar Energy has raised its dividend for 11 consecutive years.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and target prices for Westar Energy and Atlantic Power, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Westar Energy 0 0 5 0 3.00
Atlantic Power 0 2 0 0 2.00

Westar Energy currently has a consensus price target of $55.75, indicating a potential downside of 1.13%. Atlantic Power has a consensus price target of $2.48, indicating a potential upside of 1.02%. Given Atlantic Power’s higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Atlantic Power is more favorable than Westar Energy.

Profitability

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

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Westar Energy 13.32% 8.94% 2.98%
Atlantic Power -14.09% 34.66% 1.25%

Institutional & Insider Ownership

73.7% of Westar Energy shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 47.8% of Atlantic Power shares are held by institutional investors. 0.7% of Westar Energy shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 1.6% of Atlantic Power shares are held 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.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Westar Energy and Atlantic Power’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Westar Energy $2.56 billion 3.13 $346.57 million $2.41 23.40
Atlantic Power $399.20 million 0.71 -$113.90 million ($0.56) -4.37

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

Summary

Westar Energy beats Atlantic Power on 12 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Westar Energy Company Profile

Westar Energy, Inc. is an electric utility. The Company provides electric generation, transmission and distribution services. The Company provides these services in central and northeastern Kansas, including the cities of Topeka, Lawrence, Manhattan, Salina and Hutchinson. Its subsidiary, Kansas Gas and Electric Company (KGE), provides these services in south-central and southeastern Kansas, including the city of Wichita. Both the Company and KGE conduct business using the name Westar Energy. The Company supplies electric energy at retail to customers in Kansas. The Company also supplies electric energy at wholesale to municipalities and electric cooperatives in Kansas, and has contracts for the sale or purchase of wholesale electricity with other utilities. As of December 31, 2016, it had 6,292 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity in service.

Atlantic Power Company Profile

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.

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