Spire (NYSE: SR) and Vectren Corporation (NYSE:VVC) are both mid-cap utilities companies, but which is the better stock? We will compare the two businesses based on the strength of their valuation, earnings, profitability, analyst recommendations, risk, institutional ownership and dividends.

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings for Spire and Vectren Corporation, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Spire 1 5 1 0 2.00
Vectren Corporation 0 0 3 0 3.00

Spire currently has a consensus price target of $70.50, suggesting a potential downside of 6.06%. Vectren Corporation has a consensus price target of $66.00, suggesting a potential upside of 9.76%. Given Vectren Corporation’s stronger consensus rating and higher probable upside, analysts plainly believe Vectren Corporation is more favorable than Spire.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

74.7% of Spire shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 64.6% of Vectren Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. 3.1% of Spire shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.1% of Vectren Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Volatility & Risk

Spire has a beta of 0.33, meaning that its stock price is 67% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Vectren Corporation has a beta of 0.81, meaning that its stock price is 19% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Spire and Vectren Corporation’s revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Spire $1.76 billion 2.05 $462.00 million $3.49 21.50
Vectren Corporation $2.59 billion 1.93 $668.60 million $2.70 22.27

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

Profitability

This table compares Spire and Vectren Corporation’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Spire 9.12% 8.77% 2.63%
Vectren Corporation 8.66% 12.65% 3.90%

Dividends

Spire pays an annual dividend of $2.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.8%. Vectren Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.68 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.8%. Spire pays out 60.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Vectren Corporation pays out 62.2% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Both companies have healthy payout ratios and should be able to cover their dividend payments with earnings for the next several years. Spire has raised its dividend for 57 consecutive years. Spire is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and longer track record of dividend growth.

Summary

Vectren Corporation beats Spire on 9 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Spire Company Profile

Spire Inc., formerly The Laclede Group, Inc., is engaged to transform its business and pursue growth by growing its gas utility business through prudent investment in infrastructure upgrades and organic growth initiatives; acquire and integrate gas utilities; modernize its gas assets, and invest in innovation. The Company has two business segments, which include gas utility and gas marketing. The gas utility segment includes the regulated operations of Laclede Gas Company (Laclede Gas), Alabama Gas Corporation (Alagasco) and EnergySouth, Inc. (EnergySouth). The gas marketing segment includes Laclede Energy Resources, Inc. (LER), a subsidiary engaged in the marketing of natural gas and related activities on a non-regulated basis. Laclede Gas is engaged in the purchase, retail distribution and sale of natural gas, serving residential, commercial and industrial customers, through Missouri Gas Energy (MGE), Kansas City and western Missouri.

Vectren Corporation Company Profile

Vectren Corporation (Vectren) is an energy holding company. The Company segregates its operations into groups, including the Utility Group, the Nonutility Group, and Corporate and Other. The Company’s subsidiary, Vectren Utility Holdings, Inc. (Utility Holdings or VUHI), serves as the intermediate holding company for three public utilities: Indiana Gas Company, Inc. (Indiana Gas), Southern Indiana Gas and Electric Company (SIGECO) and Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, Inc. (VEDO). The Company, through Vectren Enterprises Inc. (Enterprises), is involved in non-utility activities in two primary business areas: Infrastructure Services and Energy Services. Infrastructure Services provides underground pipeline construction and repair services. Energy Services provides energy performance contracting and sustainable infrastructure, such as renewables, distributed generation, and combined heat and power projects.

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