It is usually a given that when a high dividend is too good to be true it probably is. In most cases, that scenario plays out. However, sometimes you find companies that have an unusually high distribution rate, compared to relative rates, and they can maintain that payout. Sometimes it is the structure of the company, either as real estate investment trust or a limited partnership, that requires a large cash payout to maintain their tax status.
In an era in which people have become hypersensitive to the potential for higher rates, the fact of the matter is we are still at interest rate levels that are the lowest in 50 years, and even if the Federal Reserve raises the federal funds rate three times this year, we will still be way below what is normal.
We screened our 24/7 Wall St. research database in a quest to find high-yielding ideas that look to be able to maintain their payouts. We found three that Merrill Lynch rates Buy, and all look like good plays for aggressive income accounts.
This company offers solid value and has zero foreign sales exposure. CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is the nation’s third-largest telephone company and the largest rural exchange provider serving residential, business and wholesale customers. It has 11 million access lines and 5.9 million high-speed internet connections across 37 states, and it is the product of the acquisition of Embarq by CenturyTel in 2008 and Qwest Communications in 2011.
Last year shareholders of CenturyLink and Level 3 Communications approved their merger by overwhelming majorities. The deal closed in November and the company recently released earnings that were generally in line with Wall Street expectations. Merrill Lynch had this to say regarding the print:
The company reported fourth quarter results for standalone CenturyLink and Level three, as well as pro forma results for the combined company. On a standalone basis, both companies beat Street expectations on adjusted EBITDA. CenturyLink also provided fiscal year guidance ahead of Street expectations.
Many on Wall Street view the improved cost structure and tax position as very accretive, enabling the dividend to be sustained, but more in the 80% payout area. The company has a plan to upgrade its infrastructure to improve services while aiming to cut operating costs at the same time.
CenturyLink investors receive a gigantic 11.41 % dividend. The Merrill Lynch price target for the shares is $27, while the Wall Street consensus price objective is $19.66. The stock closed trading on Friday at $18.93.
Energy Transfer Partners
This company merged with Sunoco Logistics Partners last year. Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (NYSE: ETP) engages in the natural gas midstream and intrastate transportation and storage businesses in the United States.
The company’s Intrastate Transportation and Storage segment transports natural gas from various natural gas producing areas, and through ET fuel system and HPL system. It owns and operates 7,500 miles of natural gas transportation pipelines and three natural gas storage facilities in Texas. Its Interstate Transportation and Storage segment provides natural gas transportation and storage services; owns and operates approximately 12,300 miles of interstate natural gas pipeline; and has interests in various natural gas pipelines.
The Midstream segment gathers, compresses, treats, blends, processes and markets natural gas. It owns and operates 35,000 miles of in service natural gas, 31 natural gas processing plants, 21 natural gas treating facilities and four natural gas conditioning facilities.
The company continues to deleverage, and Merrill Lynch noted this last month:
Energy Transfer Partners and Energy Transfer Equity LP announced a sale of the natural gas compression business to USA Compression Partners totaling $1.8 billion. Energy Transfer expects to use the $1.225 billion cash proceeds to pay down debt, another positive step towards strengthening its balance sheet. We reiterate our Buy rating and bump our price objective higher.
Energy Transfer unitholders are paid a massive 12.18% distribution. The $23 Merrill Lynch price target compares with a $24.14 consensus target. The shares closed Friday at $18.55.
Golar LNG Partners
This liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipping and storage play holds a big distribution for shareholders and is the top pick across Wall Street. Golar LNG Partners L.P. (NASDAQ: GMLP) owns and operates floating storage regasification units (FSRUs) and LNG carriers under long-term charters in Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Kuwait. The company also engages in the leasing of its fleets.
The Marshall Islands–based company has a fleet of six FSRUs and five LNG carriers, a combined average remaining useful life of 25 years, and an average remaining charter duration of five-plus years. The company posted solid second-quarter results and also was successful in lowering leverage.
Golar LNG Partners has a diverse pipeline that includes its FLNG projects and, as a result, some Wall Street analysts feel the company has the largest growth potential over its peer group, with potential drop-downs/newbuilding inventories of 16 vessels.
Golar shareholders receive an 11.11% distribution. Merrill Lynch has a $25 price target. The consensus target is $23.20, and shares closed Friday at $20.79.
These three companies not only look able to maintain their large payouts but also have growth prospects. While clearly only suitable for very aggressive accounts, they look to be solid 2018 plays for income seekers and thrill seekers.