Right now might not be the perfect time to be buying Algonquin Power & Utilities (TSX:AQN), but Scotia Wealth advisor Greg Newman thinks you should be keeping an eye on AQN at these levels.
“This is a name that we’ve owned for years and we’ve recommended it since the $6 range. Sometimes it gets too big over its skis and it gets a little bit expensive but it’s no longer as expensive as it was,” said Newman, senior wealth advisor and portfolio manager at Scotia Wealth Management, who spoke on BNN Bloomberg on Monday.
Ahead of Algonquin’s second quarter financials due on August 12, the Oakville, Ontario-headquartered power generation, transmission and distribution utility has seen its revenue climb in recent quarters. AQN’s topline was up 12 per cent year-over-year for the fourth quarter of 2020 and up a further 36 per cent for its most recent quarter, the company’s 2021 Q1, which came in at $634.5 million.
Adjusted EBITDA for the Q1 was also a major uptick at $282.9 million compared to $242.2 million a year earlier, representing a 17 per cent increase, while net earnings were $13.9 million for the first quarter compared to negative $63.8 million a year earlier. (All figures in US dollars except where noted otherwise.)
“Nearly 1,400 MWs have already been placed in service and the remainder are on schedule for completion by year-end. This will effectively double our portfolio of owned and operated renewables, underscoring our commitment to growth, operational excellence, and sustainability,” said Algonquin President and CEO Arun Banskota in the company’s first quarter press release.
Those recent numbers have been a nice bounce-back after a 2020 that had its challenges, affected as it was by the pandemic which cut sharply into consumption from Algonquin’s commercial and industrial customers. The result was full 2020 revenue which was up by a slimmer three per cent compared to 2019 at $1.577 billion, with 2020 EBITDA of $869.5 million representing a four per cent increase on 2019.
Algonquin’s first quarter also included the impact of this winter’s extreme cold weather and related power outages in Texas, which restricted electricity production at the company’s Texas-based wind farms and, due to the power purchase agreements and market energy settlements the company has in the state, put pressure on the company’s bottom line.
That incident also seemed to have impacted AQN’s share price in February but the more powerful trend over the past roughly five-months has been the market’s general turning away from the renewables sector after a long stretch of support.
Algonquin went from around $18 per share last July to as high as $22.50 by early February. The stock has pulled back since then and has been trading in the $19 range during the past two months. Algonquin’s dividend yield currently sits at about 4.4 per cent.
“It’s trading at a more reasonable 17.8x 2022 [estimates] and you’re going to get paid a decent dividend,” said Newman. “I think that there’s a lot of value when this name gets cheap. Right now it’s not cheap — it’s kind of in no man’s land. But it’s not in a bad place to be picking away.”
“I wouldn’t actually buy it today but I’d really have it on your radar screen for when it’s under $19.00,” he said.
Algonquin has had success in its building out its power generating capabilities, finishing in April its Maverick Creek Wind Project in Texas, the company’s 14th wind-powered facility which is expected to generate about 1,920 GW-hrs of energy per year. Earlier this year, AQN also closed on acquiring a 51-per-cent stake in three of four wind facilities that it had previously agreed to purchase from RWE Renewables Americas.
In Chile, Algonquin has had now two full quarters of contribution from its majority interest in the Chilean regulated water and wastewater utility, Empresa de Servicios Sanitarios de Los Lagos. Algonquin is currently integrating the utility along with earlier purchase the Bermuda Light Company, the country’s sole electric utility.
While in the US Midwest, the company continues to build out its wind energy capabilities, with now 650 MWs of energy generation through its ‘Greening the Fleet’ initiative.
In total, Algonquin has about $15 billion in assets through its two business groups, the Regulated Services Group and the Renewable Energy Group. The company owns, operates and/or has net interests in over three GW of installed renewable generation capacity.
The Street has been mixed in its outlook for Algonquin Power, with Morgan Stanley analyst Stephen Byrd last week dropping his target from US$16.50 to US$16.00 while keeping his “Equal Weight” rating.
Meanwhile, RBC Capital analyst Nelson Ng maintained his “Buy” rating with a $18.00 target, which represented at the time of publication a return of 17.6 per cent.
Algonquin announced in June the upsizing of a marketed public offering of 20 million units for total gross proceeds of $1 billion. The company said the net proceeds will go towards financing and/or refinancing investments in renewable energy projects, facilities and clean energy technologies.