Beyond the Headlines

At least N.S. Power's shareholders are happy

Posted: May 14, 2012 12:03 PM ET Last Updated: May 14, 2012 12:03 PM ET

Investing in the stock market can be something of a gamble. But not, it seems, if you were smart enough to invest in Emera.
 
While the rest of the market has been a frightening roller coaster ride the past few years, the stock of Nova Scotia Power's parent company has been sailing along, blissfully ignoring the ups and downs of your everyday run of the mill companies.
 
Next time you open your power bill consider this: over the past five years Emera's stock price has gone up about 60%.
 
If you had purchased Emera stock in May 2007 it would have cost you just about $21 a share. Monday morning the stock opened at $34.26 a share. At a time when, for many investors "Freedom 55" has become "work until I'm 85", that's a pretty sweet return.
 
But that's not all.

The stock holders also get a dividend. Last week, Emera announced a quarterly dividend of $0.36875 per preferred share. In fact, Emera says its dividend has increased more than 50% over the past five years.
 
Emera owns utilities in Maine, New Brunswick and the Caribbean. But Nova Scotia Power is by far its largest holding, a utility that is guaranteed by law, a return on investment of 9.2% a  year.
 
No wonder the stock has done so well during tumultuous financial times.
 
Keeping its investors happy is the number one priority for a publicly traded company. Emera's stock performance goes a long way to explain the Fortune 500-type compensation packages that have been awarded the company's senior officers.
 
Emera has certainly taken care of its shareholders. And, if you are one of its senior employees, you would have to have a lot of nerve to complain about your pay cheque.
 
If it wasn't for that pesky group known as the consumer, this would be one rosy financial tale.

Update Monday 4:45pm

After reading this post Emera spokesperson Sasha Irving sent me this clarification on the company's rate of return:

        "The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB) sets Nova Scotia Power's
        allowed return on equity, not a guaranteed one. NS Power has the opportunity
        to earn within that range, but it is not a guarantee. In the 2012 rate settlement
        agreed to by customer representatives and approved by the UARB, NSP's ROE
        was set at 9.1% to 9.5%, a reduction from 2011. That range is competitive with
        those offered to investors by other Canadian utilities and energy sector firms.
        Achieving this happens only by Nova Scotia Power running its business as
        efficiently as it can while delivering service to customers."





 
    
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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