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"Lastly, Gaugler is bullish on Aqua America of Bryn Mawr, Pa., which is aggressively buying up other water utilities. Aqua America, which generated $520 million in revenues over the last 12 months, is the parent to regulated utility companies providing water and wastewater services to 2.5 million people in 13 states. 'Overall it's just a solid, dependable business model,' Gaugler said."

[Cramer yells at Nick...mildly entertaining...]

Video link:

"Cramer welcomed Nicholas DeBenedictis, Aqua America's chief executive to the show and asked him why the stock is underperforming and what he is going to do to turn it around.

" 'This is a stock that has been around for 100 years, and it hasn't underperformed over the last 20 years,' DeBenedictis responded. 'I can't tell you what it's going to do quarter to quarter, but long-term holders have done very well with the stock.'

" 'We are going to keep trying to grow earnings and revenues through accumulations of real assets,' he continued. 'We're up to $3 billion in assets, and it took us 100 years to get there.'

"A very small part of this, DeBenedictis said, is from buying other companies, but when Aqua America does buy other water companies, it invests in them and is allowed to earn on them.

" 'We're going to continue buying companies, putting investments in new water quality and growing organically in areas we're in,' DeBenedictis said. 'The fundamentals are strong.' "


[Interesting comments from CEO about US utility investing environment and required system upgrades, too long to post]

Aqua America Chairman Tells Global Water Conference That Industry Needs Prudent Investment Models to Address Infrastructure Crisis

"The electric companies exited the water business after a few short years, and today, many of the European firms have decided to leave the U.S. market...Now, private-equity funds are the latest entry...I am very skeptical...[they] are highly leveraged and typically bring a short-term investment horizon."

[Also worth noting, in 2006 WTR spent ~$100/customer on capital improvements. EPA says $277 billion are needed over the next 20 years, or ~$46/US citizen/year.]


Morningstar still doesn't rate WTR, but says 2007 consensus earnings est. averages $0.83. For what it's worth, I'm still waiting to put new money into my DRIP until P/E falls below 25, or ~$20.50.
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