[Updated 4/2/2020]While utility stocks are generally viewed as good defensive bets through economic crises, the sector has not been spared through the Coronavirus related sell-off in the stock markets.Duke Energy stock is down by about -19.8% compared to -18.2% for NextEra Energy since early February, after the WHO declared a global health emergency relating to the Coronavirus. While both companies have seen similar levels of revenue growth over the last few years (2.2% to 2.4% CAGR), Duke's GAAP EPS expanded at a CAGR of 14% between 2014-19 while NextEra's EPS has grown by 6% over the same period.Duke's P/E
based on 2019 earnings has declined from 18x in 2019 to 15x currently, while NextEra's P/E has declined from 31x to 25x. This may seem like a buying opportunity
for both companies as revenues and margins are likely to hold up in the current environment. While industrial demand for power could soften, this could be offset by an increase in residential consumption as people spend more time at home. Between the two companies, Duke looks like the better bet at current levels, due to its lower valuation multiple and also due to the fact that its stock has declined more than NextEra's through the crisis. That said, NextEra could post better growth over the long run, considering its renewable energy assets, which are among the largest in the world and its focus on the fast-growing and population-dense South Florida area.