After what seemed an eternity of trading sideways, oil has finally broken through the psychological $50 per barrel level for West Texas Intermediate, while Brent crude has traded close to the $60 level. Despite solid fundamentals and rising oil prices, many energy master limited partnerships (MLPs) have shown very poor performance, despite consistent and big yields. With the breakout in oil pricing, it might be time for income investors to take a closer look.
In a new JPMorgan research report, the energy master limited partnership team make the case that in a world starved for yield, these MLPs may be just the ticket for investors. They also note that fears of overbuilding appear to be overblown and that signs of capital discipline have emerged offering timely opportunities.
Eight top companies are rated Overweight in the report, and here we focus on the four with the highest yields.
This company provides solid distributions and serious upside potential. Enable Midstream Partners L.P. (NYSE: ENBL) primarily is engaged in oil and natural gas services, including gathering, processing, transportation and storage. Enable Midstream was formed to own the energy midstream assets of CenterPoint Energy and OGE Energy, which combined own the company’s general partner.
The company has a leading position in the Scoop and Stack plays, which are currently among the most prolific U.S. shale plays. They are part of the Anadarko Basin. In addition, the company recently announced plans to acquire Align Midstream, which will increase exposure to the Ark-La-Tex Basin.
Investors are paid an outstanding 838% distribution. The JPMorgan price objective on the stock is $18, and the Wall Street consensus price target is $17.57. The stock traded early Wednesday at $15.25.
Enterprise Products Partners
This is one of the largest MLPs and a leading North American provider of midstream energy services to producers and consumers. Enterprise Products Partners L.P. (NYSE: EPD) once again, despite the energy slump, recently raised its distribution 1%. The company maintains a very good long-term position in the market. It provides many of its services on the basis of long-term, fixed-fee contracts, insulating against some of the wilder swings of the commodities that it trades in.
One reason many analysts may like the stock might be its distribution coverage ratio. The company’s distribution coverage ratio is well above one times, making it a relatively less risky MLP. The distributions have grown for several quarters, and last quarter Enterprise Products Partners announced that the board of directors of its general partner declared an increase in the quarterly cash distribution paid to partners to $0.42 per common unit, or $1.68 per unit on an annualized basis.
Investors receive a very solid 6.39% distribution. JPMorgan has a $33 price target, and the Wall Street consensus target is $32.38. Shares traded at $26.20 on Wednesday.
This off-the-radar company holds solid upside potential. Macquarie Infrastructure Corp. (NYSE: MIC) owns and operates a portfolio of businesses that provide services to businesses, government agencies and individuals. It operates through four segments: International-Matex Tank Terminals (IMTT), Atlantic Aviation, Contracted Power and MIC Hawaii.
The IMTT segment offers bulk liquid storage, handling and other services for petroleum products, chemicals, renewable fuels and vegetable and animal oils at 10 marine terminals in the United States and two marine terminals in Canada. This segment also provides environmental emergency responses, industrial services and waste transportation and disposal services.
This is a very diversified play for investors looking for energy exposure but who want to own a diversified company that provides additional services and products to clients. This is an ideal holding for more conservative accounts seeking income.
Shareholders receive a 7.55% distribution. The $88 JPMorgan price target is less than the consensus price objective of $93.33. The shares were last seen at $72.90.
Western Gas Partners
This is another defensive play with a great balance sheet and limited commodity price risk. Western Gas Partners L.P. (NYSE: WES) is a growth-oriented MLP formed by Anadarko Petroleum to acquire, own, develop and operate midstream energy assets.
Western Gas Partners has midstream assets located in the Rocky Mountains, the Mid-Continent, north-central Pennsylvania and Texas. The company is engaged in the business of gathering, processing, compressing, treating and transporting natural gas, condensate, natural gas liquids and crude oil for Anadarko, as well as for other producers and customers.
The company reported solid second-quarter results, and it is another outstanding play for income investors looking for the additional bonus of capital appreciation.
Shareholders receive a 7.0% distribution. JPMorgan has set its price objective at $67, which compares with the consensus price target of $63.06. The shares traded at $51.00.
It is important to remember that the distributions from MLPs can contain return of principal. These four companies are timely buys now and should continue to pay solid regular distributions for the foreseeable future.