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Will new power plant fire up the AGL share price?

The AGL Energy Limited (ASX: AGL) share price has been an underperformer amongst the ASX 200 in 2019.

AGL shares have fallen 3.10% lower this year, compared to the 20.32% return from the S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO).

Even amongst the ASX Energy sector, AGL shares have underperformed competitors Origin Energy Ltd (ASX: ORG) and Beach Energy Ltd (ASX: BPT).

But could the opening of Australia’s first new power station in 7 years turn around AGL’s fortunes?

What’s the story with the new power station?

AGL’s Barker Inlet gas-fired power plant kicked off energy generation on Monday. In doing so, it became the first new major power station to fire up since 2012.

The South Australian facility cost $295 million and has 210 megawatts (MW) of energy generation capacity. 

South Australia has been plagued by power outages and energy supply issues in recent years and AGL is hoping to fill that void.

Can it spark the AGL share price higher in 2020?

That remains to be seen. The AGL share price edged marginally lower on Monday and has continued to trend slightly downwards today.

So far this year, weak FY2019 earnings hurt AGL shares, led by a 43% decline in statutory net profit after tax (NPAT) to $905 million.

The bigger concern for shareholders is a forecast decline in earnings for FY20. Much of the forecast decline in underlying NPAT can be attributed to AGL’s Loy Yang plant outage.

Inorganic growth may provide an earnings boost following the acquisition of Perth Energy from Infratil Ltd (ASX: IFT).

This new South Australia plant could also become a cornerstone of the group’s FY20 strategy.

Is the AGL share price undervalued?

While I don’t hold AGL shares, I am quite bullish on the company’s long-term prospects.

AGL is an Aussie energy sector leader and could benefit from a coming renewables boom, although regulatory risk remains a threat as the Government looks to lower electricity prices.

At $19.64 per share and trading at 14x earnings, the AGL share price could be good value ahead of 2020.

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Motley Fool contributor Kenneth Hall has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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