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NiSource Inc (NI): Today's Featured Utilities Laggard

Tickers in this article: NI

Editor's Note: TheStreet ratings do not represent the views of TheStreet's staff or its contributors. Ratings are established by computer based on metrics for performance (which includes growth, stock performance, efficiency and valuation) and risk (volatility and solvency). Companies with poor cash flow or high debt levels tend to earn lower ratings in our model

NiSource ( NI) pushed the Utilities sector lower today making it today's featured Utilities laggard. The sector as a whole closed the day up 0.8%. By the end of trading, NiSource fell $0.42 (-1.4%) to $30.73 on heavy volume. Throughout the day, 3,015,217 shares of NiSource exchanged hands as compared to its average daily volume of 1,999,000 shares. The stock ranged in price between $30.48-$30.97 after having opened the day at $30.85 as compared to the previous trading day's close of $31.15. Other companies within the Utilities sector that declined today were: RGC Resources ( RGCO), down 2.2%, Fuelcell Energy ( FCEL), down 1.9%, GreenHunter Energy ( GRH), down 1.7% and Korea Electric Power ( KEP), down 1.6%.

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NiSource Inc., an energy holding company, through its subsidiaries, provides natural gas, electricity, and other products and services. It operates in three segments: Gas Distribution Operations, Gas Transmission and Storage Operations, and Electric Operations. NiSource has a market cap of $9.7 billion and is part of the utilities industry. The company has a P/E ratio of 22.8, above the S&P 500 P/E ratio of 17.7. Shares are up 23.8% year to date as of the close of trading on Monday.

TheStreet Ratings rates NiSource as a buy. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its solid stock price performance, impressive record of earnings per share growth, compelling growth in net income, good cash flow from operations and notable return on equity. We feel these strengths outweigh the fact that the company has had generally high debt management risk by most measures that we evaluated.

On the positive front, Empresa Distribuidora y Comercializadora No ( EDN), down 8.8%, American DG Energy ( ADGE), down 7.6%, Cadiz ( CDZI), down 5.2% and TransAlta Corporation ( TAC), down 5.0% , were all gainers within the utilities sector with AES ( AES) being today's featured utilities sector leader.

For investors not wanting singular stock exposure, ETFs may be of interest. Investors who are bullish on the utilities sector could consider Utilities Select Sector SPDR ( XLU) while those bearish on the utilities sector could consider ProShares UltraShort Utilities ( SDP).