Friday, October 14, 2011

Nextera Energy: A Dividend Star on The Rise

Normally we are suspicious when old-line companies take on new names.  We have too many bad memories of the collapse of many of the new-name crowd during the Tech bubble. In rare cases, we believe changes in a company's name makes good business and strategic sense.

We believe Nextera's (NEE) name change is both an improvement over their old name, FPL Group, and an important milepost of the maturing of an exciting business strategy.

NEE changed its name from FPL Group a little over a year ago.  The name FPL Group was a change from the company's original name of Florida Power and Light and became necessary when the company began expanding well beyond Florida.

But the most important reason we like the new name is because we believe NEE is truly a very different kind of power company.  Indeed, since 1989 they have increasingly taken on a "Next Era" attitude toward electric power generation.  In the above link, they state that they now produce nearly 95% of their electric power from clean or renewable sources.  They are now North America's leader in sun and wind energy.  In addition they have a long history of safely operating nuclear power plants.  In short, today Nextera is one of the nation's top clean and renewable electric power producers.  We believe they are just beginning to reap rewards for their 20+ years of investing in alternative energy sources.

Recently, we have been adding to our NEE holdings because we believe the stock has a very bright future and our Dividend Valuation Model (above) indicates the stock is approximately 20% undervalued.

Even with President Obama's pullback on more stringent EPA emissions standards, existing clean air regulations are forcing more and more electric utilities to close old, less efficient coal-fired generating plants and abandon new coal-fired plants.  The bottom line is that many Midwestern power companies are scrambling to gain access to clean and renewable energy sources, and NEE has it for sale.

Here is a short list of other reasons why we like NEE:
  1. Current dividend yield is near 4%.
  2. 5-year dividend annual growth of just under 8%.
  3. Projected 3-5 year dividend growth of near 6%.
  4. Current dividend payout ratio is near 50%, much lower than industry average of 70%.
  5. Paid a dividend since 1990
  6. Increased its dividend for 15 consecutive years.
  7. Stock is currently selling at a PE of 12, much lower than the industry average of 15. 
  8. Company operates in 26 states mainly in the growing southern region of the US.
  9. One of the most forward thinking management teams in the industry. 
NEE's exposure to nuclear power may be seen by some as a negative.  However, with Southern Company's recent application to construct the first nuclear power plant built in the United States since the 1970s, we believe there is a growing belief among many investors that nuclear power will continue to be an important low cost source of electric power. 

We own NEE and have no plans to sell it.