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Energy stocks generally offer solid returns in many different market conditions. People and businesses need energy, and this need in the longer term is unlikely to dissipate. Many also pay generous dividends. For those investors looking for this type of return, greater income with a chance of capital growth, the energy stocks are a sector worth considering. We found seven stocks that match this profile.

First Energy Corp (FE): A diversified energy company, First Energy serves its customers through 10 operating companies across the United States. It generates and sells electricity and energy-related services. It was founded in 1996 and has its headquarters in Ohio. Its current dividend is $2.20, a yield of 5.30%. With earnings per share expected to rise from last year’s $1.74 to $3.30 this year and then $3.33 the year after, it looks likely that the company will return to growth of its absolute dividend. Its average five-year dividend payout is 62% and its dividends have been increasing by an average of 4.43% over this time. It has been paying dividends since 1998. Currently trading at $40.83, the share price is in the middle of its 52-week range of $35-45.80.

Enterprise Partners LP (EPD): An oil and gas company, Enterprise Partners operates in the United States, where it supplies energy services to producers and consumers of natural gas, crude oil and related products. It operates over 50,000 miles of onshore and offshore pipelines, as well as natural gas storage facilities. Its current dividend is $2.42, a yield of 6.10%. Hit by the troubles in the Gulf of Mexico last year, its earning did not cover this dividend. However, with earnings per share expected to rise from last year’s $1.52 to $1.94 this year and then $2.10 the year after, its zero debt position will enable it to continue its strong dividend payment policy. This has seen dividends grow by an average 10.09% through the last five years, with unbroken dividend payments since 1996. Currently trading at $40.74, the share price is a little above the middle of its 52-week range of $35.35-44.35.

Duke Energy Corp (DUK): Based out of North Carolina, Duke is a company that generates and supplies electricity to businesses, industries, and residential customers. Its current dividend is $1.00, a yield of 5.80%. The dividend was covered 1.54 times by its earnings per share of $1.54, though these are forecast to come under pressure during the next two reporting years, falling to $1.41 by end of 2012, but recovering. However, given its dividend history, which has seen payments made since 1926, and average growth over the last five years of 49.19%, we see no reason for a decrease in the dividend. Currently trading at $17.86, the share price is a little below the middle of its 52-week range of $16.76-19.50.

Exelon Corp (EXC): A diversified utility company, primarily an electricity generating business, Exelon is also involved in electricity wholesale. It has generation resources of over 25,000 megawatts and supplies over 5 million customers. Its current dividend is $2.10, a yield of 5.30%. Earnings per share are forecast to be volatile over the next two years, falling to $3.00 per share in 2012. However, even at this level of earnings, if the dividend is maintained it will still be covered 1.5 times. Dividend payout has remained steady over the past five years at 52% and grown by an average of 5.7% through this time. It has been paying dividends since 1902. Currently trading at $41.39, the share price is toward the bottom of its 52-week range of $39.05-45.27.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (KMP) operates in the energy transportation and storage facility arena. It delivers gasoline and fuel in North America. It has one of the lowest debt/equity ratios in the industry, wihch will allow it to continue paying dividends despite not being covered by its earnings. Its current dividend is $4.60, a yield of 6.80%. Earnings per share last year were $0.58, and these are forecast to rise to $2.39 over the next two years. The company has a history of high dividend payments, with dividends rising for 14 years consecutively, and having been paid since the company was formed. The dividend has grown by an average 7.21% over the last five years. This history is likely to add support to the share price in the coming months. Currently trading at $69.22, the share price is in the middle of its 52-week range of $63.42-78.

Linn Energy LLC (LINE): An independent oil and gas company, Linn Energy operates across the United States. At the end of 2010, it had reserves of 2.6 billion cubic feet of oil and gas, and over 7,000 oil-producing wells. Its current dividend is $2.76, a yield of 8%. This dividend was paid out of cash as its earnings were hit by capital expenditure on development programs. With earnings per share expected to rise from last year’s -$2.84 to $2.02 this year and then $2.42 the year after, dividend cover will return quickly. After a year of non-dividend payment, it returned to pay dividends in 2010 and has declared its intention to continue doing so. Currently trading at $35.58, the share price is in the middle of its 52-week range of $27.21-41.13.

Energy Transfer Equity LP (ETE) transports and stores natural gas across the United States. Its current dividend is $2.50, yielding 6.80%. It has increased its dividend for four years running since first paying a dividend in 2006, and the average growth rate of this dividend has been 6.81 % over the last three years. Currently trading at $37.51, its 52-week range is $32.61-47.34. Analysts expect the shares to trade as high as $56 over the next 12 months as higher earnings per share is seen coming through and the company continues to pay high dividends.

Source: 7 Energy Dividend Kings to Buy