Natural gas pipeline operator, Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) raised its fourth-quarter 2013 cash distribution to 92 cents per unit ($3.68 per unit annualized). The new distribution represents an increase of 1.66% sequentially and 2.94% year over year.
The new distribution is payable on Feb 14, 2014 to unitholders of record as of Feb 7, 2013. The partnership’s diversified asset portfolio and cost effective practices have led to this increase.
Energy Transfer Partners has been consistently returning value to its unitholders, making it attractive for investors looking for a steady income source. Until the second quarter of 2013, the partnership showed no growth in distribution paid, keeping it at the 2008 level. However, things seem to be panning out well for ETP lately as this new distribution marks the second consecutive increase for the partnership.
Energy Transfer Partners has not fared well in the past two quarters and has missed the Zacks Consensus Estimates both times. We remain cautious as the partnership plans to report its fourth quarter and full year results after the market closes on Feb 19, 2014.
Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners is a master limited partnership (MLP) engaged primarily in the gathering, processing, storage and transportation of natural gas. The partnership is a premier MLP with strategically positioned assets that is ideally situated to benefit from increasing production from unconventional sources of natural gas. With the largest intrastate system in Texas and expanding interstate assets, the partnership is connected to nearly every natural gas shale play in North America, including the Haynesville, Fayetteville and Barnett shales.
Energy Transfer Partners currently holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy), implying that it is expected to outperform the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to three months.
Meanwhile, one can consider better-ranked energy sector stocks such as Athlon Energy Inc. (ATHL), Clayton Williams Energy, Inc. (CWEI) and QEP Midstream Partners, LP (QEPM). All these stocks currently sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).