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Could Enbridge Inc. Be a Millionaire-Maker Stock?

Matthew DiLallo, The Motley Fool

Enbridge (NYSE: ENB) has made its investors lots of money over the years. The Canadian pipeline giant has raised its dividend in each of the last 25 years, increasing it by an impressive 11.2% compound annual growth rate over the previous two decades. That fast-growing dividend has been one of the keys to helping Enbridge deliver a roughly 1,160% total return during the last 20 years, or about 13% annually, which has trounced the 287% total return (5.4% annualized) of the S&P 500 over that timeframe. To put that into perspective, if an investor had bought $10,000 worth of Enbridge's stock 20 years ago, it would be worth about $116,000 today assuming they reinvested their dividends. Meanwhile, that same investment would be worth $28,700 if invested in the S&P 500.

While Enbridge has done an excellent job creating wealth for investors in the past, it faces an uphill battle in making them millionaires in the future. That's because the company must continue churning out market-smashing returns for years to come, which will get harder to do as the world shifts away from carbon-based fuels. However, that doesn't mean it can't make investors some serious money in the meantime.

$100 billion on a flat surface.

Image source: Getty Images.

The math to $1 million

It's quite possible to turn a small up-front investment into a giant windfall given enough time and return. For example, an investor can turn a $1,000 investment into $1 million in as little as 45 years if it can generate a 16.6% annualized return. That time frame lengthens as the return declines, with a roughly 10% annual return -- which is about what the S&P 500 has delivered over its history -- able to turn $1,000 into $1 million in 75 years. Meanwhile, if an investor boosted the initial investment, it could shorten the time horizon.

Using our Enbridge example, if the company continues producing a 13% total annual return, it could turn a $10,000 investment into $1 million in slightly less than 39 years. That means Enbridge would need to keep up its current pace another 19 years for those who bought two decades ago or nearly 40 years for those who buy today. While that's possible, it's less likely given that Enbridge is already the largest pipeline company in North America. That large size will make it harder for the company to grow at such a fast pace, especially in an environment that's becoming increasingly antagonistic to new pipelines due to climate change worries.

A hand putting a coin on a stack.

Image source: Getty Images.

Enbridge can still enrich investors

While Enbridge probably won't make its investors millionaires from here -- unless they start with a large up-front investment -- the company has the potential to make them lots of money. That's because they have three ways to win with Enbridge.

For starters, the company currently pays a well-above-average dividend that yields 6.2%. That high-yield payout is on a very sustainable footing since it only consumes about 65% of the company's cash flow. As such, it forms a nice base return for investors.

Enbridge currently believes it can increase that dividend by 10% per year through 2020. Fueling Enbridge's forecast are the 22 billion Canadian dollars' ($17 billion) worth of expansion projects the company expects to finish in the coming years. Those expansions position Enbridge to grow its cash flow per share by a 10% annual pace through 2020, giving it the fuel needed to grow its dividend. On top of that, Enbridge is well positioned to capture a large share of the $800 billion opportunity for pipeline companies to expand over the next 18 years to meet North America's energy-related infrastructure needs. Add Enbridge's high yield to its growth rate, and its stock could generate a total annual return in the mid-teens in the coming years.

Typically, a company that offers a strong dividend that it expects to grow at a high rate will sell at a premium valuation. However, that's not the case with Enbridge. While most of its peers sell for around 12 times cash flow, Enbridge only trades at about 10 times its cash flow, suggesting that it's about 16% undervalued versus its peer group average. If that discount narrows so that Enbridge sells for around its peer group average, investors could see an additional 20% return.

Not a home run, but this stock could still help your portfolio win

While Enbridge might not have millionaire-maker potential, it can generate market-beating returns for investors in the coming years. That's because it should grow its high-yielding dividend at a fast rate, which should help boost its valuation so that the discount between its peers closes. That would make it a winning stock in the long run.

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Matthew DiLallo owns shares of Enbridge. The Motley Fool recommends Enbridge. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.