Emera Inc. (TSX:EMA), one of the largest electric utilities companies in North America, has widely outperformed the overall market in 2015, rising nearly 9% as the market has returned about 3%, and I think it could continue to do so going forward. Let’s take a look at three of the primary reasons why this could happen and why you should be a long-term buyer today.

1. Double-digit first-quarter growth to support a near-term rally

Emera released better-than-expected first-quarter earnings results on the morning of May 11, and its stock has responded by rising about 2.5% in the weeks since. Here’s a breakdown of 10 of the most notable statistics from the report compared with the year-ago period:

  1. Adjusted net income increased 17.1% to $171.6 million
  2. Adjusted earnings per share increased 14.6% $1.18, surpassing analysts’ expectations of $0.79
  3. Total revenues decreased 14.3% to $900.3 million, surpassing analysts’ expectations of $837.8 million
  4. Revenue decreased 40.9% to $257.8 million in its Emera Energy segment
  5. Revenue decreased 6.9% to $105.4 million in its Emera Caribbean segment
  6. Revenue increased 7.1% to $69.2 million in its Emera Maine segment
  7. Revenue increased 14.9% to $13.1 million in its Pipelines segment
  8. Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization increased 16.1% to $384.2 million
  9. Operating income decreased 26.8% to $232.1 million
  10. Ended the quarter with $305.3 million in cash and cash equivalents, an increase of 38.1% from the beginning of the quarter

2. Its stock trades at inexpensive forward valuations

At current levels Emera’s stock trades at just 18.6 times fiscal 2015’s estimated earnings per share of $2.26 and only 18 times fiscal 2016’s estimated earnings per share of $2.34, both of which are inexpensive compared with its long-term growth potential.

I think Emera’s stock could consistently trade at a fair multiple of at least 20, which would place its shares upwards of $45 by the conclusion of fiscal 2015 and upwards of $46.75 by the conclusion of fiscal 2016, representing upside of more than 6.5% and 11%, respectively, from today’s levels.

3. A generous dividend that is on the rise

Emera pays a quarterly dividend of $0.40 per share, or $1.60 per share annually, giving its stock a 3.8% yield at current levels. The company has also increased its dividend nine times in the last eight years, making it one of the top dividend-growth plays in the energy sector today. 

Should you buy shares of Emera right now?

Emera has the potential to continue outperforming the overall market going forward because it has the support of strong earnings growth, its stock trades at inexpensive forward valuations, and it has a 3.8% dividend yield with an extensive track record of increasing its payment. All long-term investors should take a closer look and strongly consider beginning to scale in to positions today.

Want two more of our TOP energy stock picks?

If so, check out our special FREE report "2 Canadian Energy Stocks on the Cusp of a Powerful Long-Term Trend." In this report, you'll find that Canada is rich in other energy sources that are poised to take off. Click here now to get the full story.

NEW! This Stock Could Be Like Buying Amazon In 1997

For only the 5th time in over 14 years, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner just issued a Buy Recommendation on this recent Canadian IPO.

Stock Advisor Canada’s Chief Investment Adviser, Iain Butler, also recommended this company back in March – and it’s already up a whopping 57%!

Enter your email address below to claim your copy of this brand new report, “Breakthrough IPO Receives Rare Endorsement.”

Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.