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

Analyst Ratings

This is a breakdown of current ratings and recommmendations for Atmos Energy Corporation and Spire, as reported by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Atmos Energy Corporation 1 1 3 0 2.40
Spire 1 4 1 0 2.00

Atmos Energy Corporation presently has a consensus price target of $85.40, suggesting a potential downside of 3.13%. Spire has a consensus price target of $70.80, suggesting a potential downside of 8.17%. Given Atmos Energy Corporation’s stronger consensus rating and higher possible upside, analysts clearly believe Atmos Energy Corporation is more favorable than Spire.

Volatility and Risk

Atmos Energy Corporation has a beta of 0.4, suggesting that its share price is 60% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Spire has a beta of 0.32, suggesting that its share price is 68% less volatile than the S&P 500.

Profitability

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

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Atmos Energy Corporation N/A 10.59% 3.80%
Spire 9.12% 8.77% 2.63%

Dividends

Atmos Energy Corporation pays an annual dividend of $1.80 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.0%. Spire pays an annual dividend of $2.10 per share and has a dividend yield of 2.7%. Atmos Energy Corporation pays out 48.1% of its earnings in the form of a dividend. Spire pays out 60.2% 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. Atmos Energy Corporation has raised its dividend for 34 consecutive years.

Valuation and Earnings

This table compares Atmos Energy Corporation and Spire’s top-line revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Atmos Energy Corporation $3.62 billion 2.58 $1.04 billion $3.74 23.57
Spire $1.76 billion 2.11 $462.00 million $3.49 22.09

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

Insider & Institutional Ownership

71.0% of Atmos Energy Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 79.1% of Spire shares are held by institutional investors. 1.6% of Atmos Energy Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 3.1% of Spire shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, endowments and hedge funds believe a stock will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

Atmos Energy Corporation beats Spire on 13 of the 17 factors compared between the two stocks.

Atmos Energy Corporation Company Profile

Atmos Energy Corporation is a fully-regulated, natural-gas-only distributor engaged primarily in the regulated natural gas distribution and pipeline businesses, as well as other nonregulated natural gas businesses. It operates through three segments: regulated distribution segment, which includes its regulated distribution and related sales operations; regulated pipeline segment, which includes pipeline and storage operations of its Atmos Pipeline-Texas Division, and nonregulated segment, which includes its nonregulated natural gas management, nonregulated natural gas transmission, storage and other services. Its nonregulated businesses provide natural gas management, transportation and storage services to local gas distribution companies, including certain of its natural gas distribution divisions and industrial customers in the Midwest and Southeast. It also manages its natural gas pipeline and storage assets, including its intrastate natural gas pipeline systems in Texas.

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.

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