Leeb's Look at MLPs

Stephen Leeb Founder and Research Chairman, Leeb Group

Growth and income expert Stephen Leeb, editor of Leeb Income Performance, sees upside potential and rising yields from two recommended master limited partnerships held in his model portfolios.

Since joining our High Yield Portfolio in November 2007, Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) has generated a total return of more than 181 percent.

It’s not hard to see why: in October, for example, this midstream energy partnership announced a 5.2 percent distribution increase over the third quarter of 2015 — its 58th distribution increase since the 1998 public offering and the 49th consecutive quarterly increase.

The partnership does well due in part to its size and broad diversification across the energy and chemical businesses.

It also boasts a low cost of capital, high (Baa1/BBB+) credit ratings among MLPs, no general partner incentive distribution rights, and a distribution coverage of about 1.4 times.

The partnership can comfortably cover its current distribution obligation and likely can increase the payout even more going forward.

Very likely, going forward, the partnership will also profit from the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions in the field, as companies and partnerships grow ever larger.

Naturally, it also looks forward to increased U.S. production of natural gas, NGL and crude oil—and increased demand. We continue to recommend Enterprise Products Partners.

We also still like Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP) given its total return of 618 percent since joining our recommended list in December 2008.

This partnership, too, has a long history of raising its distributions. It last raised its quarterly payout in July 2016, to 82 cents, the 57th distribution increase since its 2001 public offering.

This MLP transports and stores mostly refined petroleum products, as well as ammonium and crude oil; it connects production fields with refineries and ultimately the users of petroleum products.

It charges fees on the gasoline and other product transport flow, irrespective of the prevailing price of the commodities; that means Magellan’s income succumbs very little to price swings.

Still better, long-term fixed-fee contracts account for some 85 percent of Magellan’s revenues. All this gives Magellan steady cash flow, although to continue to grow with this business model, it must increase its asset base.

In the last 12 months, Magellan generated more than $1 billion in operating cash flow and nearly $400 million in free cash flow. And its 4.7 percent yield remains attractive, and safe.

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By Stephen Leeb, Editor of Leeb Income Performance