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PPL retains top spot among utilities by recurring EBITDA margin in Q3'19

PPL Corp. topped U.S. and Canadian electric and diversified utilities in a ranking of profitability by recurring EBITDA margin for the quarter ended Sept. 30. Since the fourth quarter of 2018, the Allentown, Pa.-headquartered company's position has remained unchanged at the top of the roster, according to data compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

PPL reported the biggest recurring EBITDA margin of 54.7% of recurring revenues in the third quarter of 2019. The company recorded higher third-quarter earnings per share of 61 cents, compared to 59 cents per share the prior year.

CEO William Spence hailed the U.K.'s new mandate to reach net-zero carbon emissions as an opportunity for PPL to invest in its renewable market. The company plans to spend $1.3 billion in the country on capital projects in 2023.

Coming in second, NextEra Energy Inc. recorded a recurring EBITDA margin of 52.3%, up 1.2% compared to the same quarter of 2018. For the third quarter, NextEra, the largest utility in the U.S., reported an adjusted EPS of $2.39 per share, beating the consensus by 10 cents.

Reporting the largest year-over-year improvement of 10.7% in recurring EBITDA margin among top utilities was Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. Its recurring EBITDA margin was 47.6% of recurring revenues in the third quarter, compared to 36.9% in the same quarter of 2018.

Algonquin reported third-quarter adjusted EBITDA of $186.9 million, a 13% increase from $165.5 million in the comparable 2018 quarter. As part of a plan to focus on its regulated businesses and sustainable power generation, Algonquin management said Dec. 4 the company plans to invest C$9.2 billion over the next five years, up from C$5.3 billion it had identified in growth projects at the same time in 2018.

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Dominion Energy Inc.'s recurring EBITDA margin declined by 4 percentage points year over year to 44.3% of recurring revenue. The company assured investors on its third-quarter earnings call that it will be able to build and receive cost recovery for its planned 2,640-MW offshore wind project in Virginia.

The company posted operating EPS of $1.18 per share in the third quarter, rising from $1.15 per share in the comparable quarter of 2018.

Portland General Electric Co.'s recurring EBITDA margin for the third quarter was 35.5%, compared to 38.1% in the same quarter of 2018. The company reported third-quarter EPS of 61 cents per share, compared to 59 cents per share in the third quarter of 2018.

Big names including Duke Energy Corp., Southern Co., Sempra Energy, American Electric Power Co. Inc., Xcel Energy Inc. and Entergy Corp. also reported improvements in recurring EBITDA margin for the third quarter.