Credit Suisse Sees Big Upside in Defensive MLPs for Yield and Growth

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The world of master limited partnerships (MLPs) was once believed to be at least partially immune to the woes of oil and gas prices. That worked for a while. Issues like bankruptcy, production being shut in and steep industry losses took a toll on MLPs, just like it did the rest of the oil patch.

The team at Credit Suisse still sees some selective upside for MLPs. While the analysts see upside for the industry as a whole, it does warn of a continued dependence on the price of oil. A fresh report this week outlines not just the firm’s favorites out of its top picks list, but it includes four MLPs that it thinks offer defensive characteristics (price protection) with offensive capabilities (upside to their targets).

There are some positives and some negatives alike. Credit Suisse sees the MLPs as fairly valued, but they also think that upside remains. Compared with the rest of the energy sector, MLPs are still trading at a discount to energy subsectors, aside from refiners.

The report admits that the run higher for MLPs has been impressive so far. It also suggests that they will continue to trade in conjunction with the direction of oil. All in all, this is shown to create upside potential if oil moves to $60 a barrel and higher.

Credit Suisse featured four top MLPs that it believes will offer defensive characteristics with offensive capabilities. As a reminder, MLPs trade as units rather than shares, and their “yields” are an equivalent metric that are based on distributions from income, cash flow and a return of capital rather than just distributable income.

Boardwalk Pipeline Partners

The yield equivalent at Boardwalk Pipeline Partners L.P. (NYSE: BWP) is only about 2.3%, but it has distribution coverage of 4.99 times 2016 expectations and 5.56 times 2017 expectations. Credit Suisse noted that the Boardwalk distribution is expected to be flat in 2016 and 2017.

Its units closed most recently trading at $18.07. The consensus analyst price target is $19.30, but Credit Suisse has a $22 price target. The stock has a 52-week trading range of $8.86 to $18.16, and the market cap is $4.5 billion.

EQT Midstream Partners

EQT Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: EQM) has a current yield equivalent of almost 4%, and its distribution coverage ratio is 1.55 times 2016 expectations and 1.24 times 2017 expectations. Its distribution growth is expected to be 21% in 2016 and 20% in 2017. Farther out, the firm sees EQT having double-digit distribution growth prospects in 2018 and beyond as its projects are placed in service.

Units of EQT Midstream were last trading at $74.88, with a consensus price target of $92.54 and a 52-week range of $56.52 to $84.75. Credit Suisse’s $109 price target has been in place for six months. The market cap is nearly $6 billion.

Genesis Energy

The yield equivalent at Genesis Energy L.P. (NYSE: GEL) is close to a 7.2%, with a distribution coverage ratio is 1.28 times 2016 expectations and 1.22 times 2017 expectations. Distribution growth is expected to be 10% in 2016 and 11% in 2017. Credit Suisse recently noted that a recent acquisition will be 25% to 30% accretive to distributable cash flow providing visibility to distribution growth the next few years.

Genesis closed at $37.23 on Tuesday. It has a consensus price target of $41.25. Credit Suisse’s price target has come down to $46 after having been as high as $69 in 2015. The 52-week range is $19.55 to $48.15, and Genesis has a market cap of $4 billion.

Tallgrass Energy Partners

With a yield equivalent close to a 6.1%, Tallgrass Energy Partners L.P. (NYSE: TEP) also has a distribution coverage ratio of 1.18 times 2016 expectations and 1.11 times 2017 expectations. Credit Suisse expects Tallgrass to grow its distribution by 31% in 2016 and 20% in 2017. The firm recently noted that, unlike many peers, Tallgrass maintains enough flexibility to finance its growth without coming to the equity market.

Units of Tallgrass closed trading at $46.25, within a 52-week trading range of $25.82 to $51.79. The consensus price target of $52.64, while Credit Suisse has its price target set at $60. Tallgrass has a market cap of roughly $3.3 billion.