Following NuStar Energy's (NS) grim third quarter results, we are recalibrating our investment thesis on the midstream energy partnership to Underperform from Neutral. In particular, losses in its asphalt and fuel marketing segments (which together contribute roughly half of total income) adversely impacted NuStar's third quarter profits.
Though we welcome the partnership s decision to sell a 50% stake in its volatile asphalt operations, the continued poor outlook for the sector will be a further drag on NuStar's near-to-medium term EBITDA. We are also concerned by the partnerships high leverage. Considering these headwinds, we expect NuStar to perform below the industry, which gives investors little reason to hold the stock.
This is corroborated by our new Underperform recommendation. Our $40 price objective reflects a 2013 P/E multiple of 17.7x.