There are two things now that are keeping many energy and income investors from buying master limited partnerships (MLPs) at today’s bargain basement prices: the threat of those MLPs having to cut their distribution, and the almost worst threat of them having to raise capital and add dilution into the mix.
In a recent report, Jefferies found three top companies that may be outstanding buys for investors as they don’t need to raise capital and could be somewhat insulated from further downward selling pressure. The energy sector in general is still under massive duress, but scaling in some capital to these solid companies could make sense at current levels.
Keep in mind that MLP distributions can contain return of capital.
This stock is a solid play on the propane industry. AmeriGas Partners L.P. (NYSE: APU) has the advantage of having a very large propane footprint. Propane usually trades at almost twice the price of spot natural gas. The consumer is often in rural or outlying areas where there is no major competition to speak of.
AmeriGas operates as a retail and wholesale distributor of propane gas and related equipment and supplies in the United States. It serves approximately 2 million residential, commercial, industrial, agricultural, wholesale and motor fuel customers in 50 states through approximately 2,500 propane distribution locations.
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The stock has been sold off pretty hard, and the Jefferies team still views this as a very solid buying opportunity. They also point out that unlike other MLPs, this company is not constantly going to the equity markets to raise capital, and that is a big plus for unitholders, given the current very difficult situation in the energy sector.
AmeriGas investors are paid a very rich 11.06% distribution. The Jefferies price objective for the stock is $52, and the Thomson/First Call consensus price target is $50. AmeriGas shares closed Monday’s trading at $33.26.