With their tax advantaged income stream and ability to grow their distributions, MLPs offer an attractive opportunity for income and growth. While yield hungry investors flock to these instruments, even those investors more interested in growth should have some funds invested in MLPs to boost portfolio yield and increase diversification.
Whether you own ETPs like MLPN or MLPI, or pick individual stocks, you are likely heavily weighted in energy infrastructure stocks. Although they may not get mentioned as often, there are stocks out there that offer the advantages of the MLP structure that are not involved in the energy industry. I would urge investors to research the stocks in the list below for they offer a high current yield, potential for capital gains and even greater diversification.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partnership LP (BIP)
Spun off of Brookfield Asset Management (BAM) in 2008, BIP owns interests in high-quality, long-living infrastructure assets around the world. They own electrical utilities in South America, natural gas pipelines in the U.S., coal mines in Australia, timberlands in Canada and even marine ports in Europe. This new company offers investors an amazing amount of diversity in both type of assets and their geographical location – all in the tax-advantaged wrapper of an MLP.
BIP currently yields 5.3% and management has stated their goal of growing a sustainable dividend yield. The dividend has been bumped by a generous 11% in each of 2010 and 2011.
Pope Resources (POPE)
The small cap Pope Resources is the only lumber company structured as an MLP and after getting shredded by the Great Recession it has been growing by leaps and bounds: a CFO of .17 cents per share in 2009 ballooned to $2.15 by 2010. While most people wouldn’t get too upset about the over 40% price appreciation Pope has experienced since, it has left the yield at only 3.1% -- the lowest on the list. Still, Pope Resources has had stellar earnings the last few years and is rapidly growing their distribution – there was a 40% hike in 2011 alone. More growth oriented investors looking for the potential of a high total return should seriously consider Pope.
W. P. Carey and Co. LLC (WPC)
A more obscure MLP, W.P. Carey and Co provided specialty corporate financing. The firm has provided build-to-suit financing to some of the world's leading companies including Marriott, Del Monte, Federal Express and Dr. Pepper Bottling. Whether you are looking for yield or growth this midcap financial firm will impress: W.P. Carey and Co boasts a strong 5.4% yield and has delivered an annualized return of 12.1% over the last five years.
StoneMor Partners LP (STON)
Another unique MLP, StoneMor Partners L.P owns and operate 224 cemeteries and 57 funeral homes across 27 U.S. States. The stock has underperformed the broader market this year as the company reported losses for 2010 and the first quarter of 2011. Despite the disappointing earnings, StoneMor Partners has increased their dividend each year for the past three years and it now sits at an eye-popping 8.5%. There is even better news for investors besides the juicy yield: StoneMore’s earnings have snapped back to see 88% growth year over year in 2011 and are projected to grow another 120% in 2012. If those projections prove to be true, I would expect to see another hike in the distribution and the share price to play catch up.
CVR Partners LP (UAN)
A subsidiary of CVR Energy, CVR Partners LP recently went public and is the new kid on the MLP block. They are a producer of nitrogen fertilizer and are the only producer in North America that uses a coke petroleum manufacturing process – a process that is much cheaper than the usual natural gas based manufacturing process. CVR’s early results show they have a much lower cost of production and higher free cash flow per share than their major competitors – even higher than fellow MLP Terra Nitrogen (TNH). This high level of cash flow has supported an initial annual dividend of $1.96 per share – for a jaw-dropping yield of 9.8%
CVR Partners has reserved much of the cash from its IPO in order to eye potential acquisitions and to finance a major expansion project. If successful, their expansion will increase fertilizer production by over 50% by 2013 which will support further distribution increases.
There are risks, of course: since the company plans to pay out virtually all of their cash flow in distributions that will mean a volatile distribution that rises and falls with underlying fertilizer prices. They also have no track record which makes many investors nervous. Still, if you missed the amazing run-up of Terra Nitrogen (TNH) this decade, this could be your chance to get in early on an amazing investment opportunity.