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Energy – Electric Utilities: First

Steven Fleishman
Bank of America
Merrill Lynch
“He is great at identifying companies where investor sentiment is about to change.”

All-America Research Team Hall of Famer Steven Fleishman, 43, climbs one level to capture the crown for the first time since 2006. The Bank of America Merrill Lynch analyst “made numerous calls over the years identifying an entry or exit point in a stock that usually turned out to be quite prescient,” cheers one backer. A relative safe haven in the weak economy, electric utilities stocks “have benefited from high yields relative to record low interest rates, their more defensive business model and their lack of international and foreign currency exposure,” Fleishman contends. However, with valuations near a 25 percent premium to the market — typically, they’re at a 10 to 15 percent discount — “global macro conditions need to deteriorate further” for the outperformance to continue, he warns. Look for utilities with “superior total-return potential,” he advises, such as NV Energy of Las Vegas and NextEra Energy of Juno Beach, Florida, which he says are likely to enjoy dividend growth of 10 percent the next few years. Fleishman “really gets into the weeds of financial statements, which is helpful for those of us on the buy side who aren’t as excited about accounting,” notes another ally.

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