Top Picks 2016: Veresen

01/25/2016 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Vivian Lewis

Editor and Publisher, Global Investing

Against the rolling disaster in US energy businesses, my top income pick for 2016 is a Canadian stock that is at a deep discount, explains Vivian Lewis, editor of Global Investing.

Veresen (TSX: VSN) (OP: FCGYF) is also a play on global warming. Natural gas is the easiest fuel for power stations to substitute for high-carbon oil and coal. VSN is ready to supply liquefied gas to Asian markets.

But it needs a partner with deep pockets after getting all the needed permits. Natural gas is shovel ready. And if it fails to get an investor, it can sell assets and cut its highly generous dividend.

Veresen links North American gas fields in the Midwest and Rockies to a port being built in Oregon, Jordan Cove at Coos Bay.

I think it will attract a big oil patch partner to build a natural gas liquefaction (NGL) plant there to serve Asian markets just like Cheniere Energy (LNG) is doing on the Gulf of Mexico for Europe. It is licensed to export 1.55 billion cubic feet of LNG/day for 25 years.

The risk is that it will go it alone and sell of shares of its pipelines and facilities near Chicago. It has partners with deep pockets including Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A) and KKR & Co. (KKR).

Other risks besides financing are the sinking Canadian dollar and its need to maintain and add to the pipeline network. It has C$1 billion in projects for next year funded from a C$1.275 billion credit line.

But Jordan Cove is beyond that level in costs. On December 7, 2015, VSN issued upbeat forecasts for 2016 based on the midstream pipeline business alone.

These are fully contracted and management stressed that VSN has virtually no commodity exposure in its contracts. It is commodity exposure that brought down US firms like Williams Cos (WMB), Targa Resources Partners LP (NGLS), and Kinder Morgan (KMI).

Veresen for Q3 reported net income up 1869.7% (not a misprint) to all of 3 loony cents. Most analysts covering it rate it a buy. Its dividend yield (C$1, which has been paid since 2006) is 11.66% at today's price of C$8.93.

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