With interest rates still hovering at near zero, investors have plowed head-first into any asset class with a high yield. One of the biggest recipients of investor cash over the last few years have been master limited partnerships (MLPs).
The corporate tax-structure for these companies is designed to kick out large, tax-advantaged dividends to unit holders and the sponsoring general partners. Those high yields often average in the 4% to 7% range, handily beating the pants off of Treasury bonds, CDs and other traditional fixed income asset classes.
The problem with high yield MLPs is the perception that they will tank if the Fed raises interest rates. But historically, that simply hasn’t been the case.
In fact, high-yield MLPs have actually been a great place to park your money during periods of rising interest rates. The key is MLPs’ history of aggressive distribution growth and high distribution coverage ratios — or the cash that MLPs have on hand to cover their current payout as well as future ones. These distributions typically grow faster than rates of inflation — meaning they are a perfect way to play rising interest rate environments.
And let’s not forget that the Fed isn’t all of sudden going to go from 0% to 15% overnight. Anything that throws off a high yield is still going to be coveted by investors. Here are four high-yield MLPs to buy today.
High-Yield MLPs To Buy Today #1: Martin Midstream Partners LP
Dividend Yield: 9.4%
While most investors tend to think about pipelines when they think about MLPs, the truth is there are a ton of different infrastructure and midstream assets that can be placed in the corporate structure to create a high yield. One of the best using the MLP structure is Martin Midstream Partners (MMLP).
MMLP operates a hodge-podge of various businesses — including oil storage terminals, marine transportation assets, pipelines, fertilizer plants and chemical facilities. All are located along the critical Gulf Coast energy corridor.
More importantly, MMLP operates them very well.
According to its latest earnings report, MMLP managed to raise its already high yield by 2 cents per share to $0.8125 cents. That gives Martin a whopping 9.4% annualized high yield. Driving that distribution is a 45% increase in distributable cash flows as well as 25% jump in the firm’s earnings. Martin should continue to increase its already high yield as its core NGL and marine transportation assets are expected to see huge earnings bumps throughout the next few years.
For investors, MMLP’s mix of midstream assets are exactly the right way to gain a high yield that will withstand rising interest rates.
High Yield MLPs To Buy Today #2: Oneok Partners (OKS)
Dividend Yield: 6.4%
As one of the MLP sector’s elder statesmen, Oneok Partners, L.P. (OKS) is a natural gas gathering, terminaling and processing powerhouse. It’s also a powerhouse in the high yield department as well. Currently, OKS units yield 6.4%.
However, that high yield could be getting higher in the future. That’s because a series of aggressive expansion projects and acquisitions will bear fruit for OKS in the long term.
OKS already has the most exposure to Bakken natural gas liquids processing capacity. However, the MLP continues to plow head-first into the prolific shale. Oneok has begun to expand processing capacity for Bakken dry gas.
The lack of infrastructure in the region actually causes many E&P firms drilling for oil to “flare-off” and burn any by-product natural gas, essentially lighting money on fire. OKS is one of the first movers to begin collecting this spent fuel.
Then there’s the recent acquisition from Chevron (CVX) to consider. OKS recently purchased a series of midstream NGLs assets from the oil giant in the Permian Basin. Those substantial trunk and the gathering lines will help boost its already robust cash flows further down the road.
High Yield MLPs To Buy Today #3: Linn Energy (LINE)
Dividend Yield: 12.5%
If there ever was a high-yield MLP battle-ground stock, it would have to be Linn Energy, LLC (LINE).
A short trip in the time machine would reveal that LINE was a target for short sellers after several analysts & hedge funds questioned how it uses derivatives to hedge production and account for those calls & puts on its balance sheet.
Since then, Linn Energy has sought to sure-up its distributable cash flows and silence critics. Asset swaps, sales and purchases have all been done as well as increasing CAPEX drilling programs.
As for LINE stock shares, it’s been a roller coaster ride.
The latest dip came as the firm reported less-than-stellar earnings. But the drop and the MLP’s now monster high yield of 12.5% could be an interesting buying opportunity for risk-adverse investors.
According to analysts at Raymond James, investors aren’t really valuing LINE’s base cash flow businesses and the impact of its multi-year hedge book. Additionally, the firm has significantly reduced its drilling capital intensity and production decline rates. Those changes will result in stable distributions going forward.
And with that kind of high yield, a stable distribution could be all investors need to outperform the market.
High Yield MLPs To Buy Today #4: Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP)
High Yield: 6.2%
Enbridge (ENB) continues to be Canada’s reigning pipeline kingpin — much to its chief rival’s chagrin. Part of that empire has been effectively using its high yielding MLP Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. (EEP) to its advantage.
That advantage includes speeding up the pace at which it “drops down” assets into EEP. The latest drop was a massive $900 million proposal in which ENB would move its Keystone XL killer — The Alberta Clipper pipeline — into EEP.
The nearly 67% ownership interest in the oil sands pipeline would be almost immediately accretive to EEP’s distributable cash flows and provide a 3% increase to DCF. It also would pave the way for further drop downs of ENB’s attractive portfolio of liquids pipeline assets in the U.S into EEP. This doesn’t even include EEP’s own portfolio of growth and expansion projects across its operating areas.
This means EEP stock’s high yield of 6.2% could only be the beginning. Already, the firm’s latest earnings release shows a nearly 48% bump in operating profits. Meanwhile, cash flows continue move upwards. For investors, EEP could be one of the best high-yield MLPs to own in the upcoming years.
As of this writing, Aaron Levitt did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.