PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) and Empire District Electric (NYSE:EDE) are both utilities companies, but which is the better business? We will contrast the two businesses based on the strength of their profitability, earnings, risk, dividends, analyst recommendations, institutional ownership and valuation.

Insider and Institutional Ownership

71.0% of PPL Corporation shares are owned by institutional investors. Comparatively, 65.9% of Empire District Electric shares are owned by institutional investors. 0.4% of PPL Corporation shares are owned by company insiders. Comparatively, 0.7% of Empire District Electric shares are owned by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Profitability

This table compares PPL Corporation and Empire District Electric’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
PPL Corporation 22.08% 15.96% 4.16%
Empire District Electric 15.69% 13.50% 4.46%

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for PPL Corporation and Empire District Electric, as provided by MarketBeat.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
PPL Corporation 0 5 2 0 2.29
Empire District Electric 2 1 0 0 1.33

PPL Corporation presently has a consensus target price of $38.36, suggesting a potential downside of 0.29%. Empire District Electric has a consensus target price of $18.33, suggesting a potential downside of 46.22%. Given PPL Corporation’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, research analysts plainly believe PPL Corporation is more favorable than Empire District Electric.

Earnings and Valuation

This table compares PPL Corporation and Empire District Electric’s gross revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
PPL Corporation $7.40 billion 3.57 $4.04 billion $2.39 16.10
Empire District Electric N/A N/A N/A $1.38 24.70

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

Volatility and Risk

PPL Corporation has a beta of 0.49, suggesting that its stock price is 51% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Empire District Electric has a beta of 0.11, suggesting that its stock price is 89% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Dividends

PPL Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.58 per share and has a dividend yield of 4.1%. Empire District Electric pays an annual dividend of $1.04 per share and has a dividend yield of 3.1%. PPL Corporation pays out 66.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Empire District Electric pays out 75.4% of its earnings in the form of a dividend, suggesting it may not have sufficient earnings to cover its dividend payment in the future. Empire District Electric has increased its dividend for 5 consecutive years. PPL Corporation is clearly the better dividend stock, given its higher yield and lower payout ratio.

Summary

PPL Corporation beats Empire District Electric on 11 of the 14 factors compared between the two stocks.

About PPL Corporation

PPL Corporation (PPL) is a utility holding company. Through its subsidiaries, PPL delivers electricity to customers in the United Kingdom, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee; delivers natural gas to customers in Kentucky, and generates electricity from power plants in Kentucky. PPL operates through U.K. Regulated Segment, Kentucky Regulated Segment and Pennsylvania Regulated Segment. The U.K. Regulated Segment consists of PPL Global, which includes PPL WPD Limited’s (WPD) regulated electricity distribution operations, the results of hedging the translation of WPD’s earnings from British pound sterling into United States dollars, and certain costs, such as the United States income taxes, administrative costs and allocated financing costs. Kentucky Regulated segment consists of the operations of Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E) and KU Energy LLC (LKE). The Pennsylvania Regulated segment consists of PPL Electric Utilities Corporation (PPL Electric).

About Empire District Electric

The Empire District Electric Company is a regulated utility company. The Company is engaged in the generation, purchase, transmission, distribution and sale of electricity. It provides services with in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Company operates its businesses in three segments: electric, gas and other. As part of its electric segment, the Company provides water service to over three towns in Missouri. The Company through its subsidiary, The Empire District Gas Company (EDG), is engaged in the distribution of natural gas in Missouri. The Company’s other segment consists of fiber optics business. It supplies electric service at retail to approximately 120 incorporated communities and to various unincorporated areas, and at wholesale to over four municipally owned distribution systems. Its gas operations serve customers in northwest, north central and west central Missouri. It serves a group of customers, including residential, commercial and industrial customers.

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