Of the 90 companies in the database of MLP stocks I track, only 9 of them have a market cap greater than $10 billion. The one large-cap company I tend to overlook and which really deserves investor attention is ONEOK Partners L.P. (NYSE:OKS). This is one master limited partnership - MLP - company focused on growth and has delivered that growth to investors.
ONEOK Partners owns assets and is involved in the energy midstream segments of Natural Gas Gathering and Processing, Natural Gas Pipelines and Natural Gas Liquids. The general partner interests of ONEOK Partners are owned by ONEOK, Inc. (NYSE:OKE), which also owns abut 43% of the limited partner units. ONEOK, Inc. is a diversified energy business focused on natural gas distribution besides the partners interest holdings. ONEOK Partners is viewed as the growth engine of ONEOK. ONEOK Partners serves the Midwestern and Rocky Mountains gas producing plays with gathering and transport pipeline serving most of the Midwestern U.S. The primary path for growth is through capital investments. The company completed more than $2 billion worth of growth projects in 2006 through 2009. The current capital expenditure budget of ONEOK includes spending up to $5.6 billion on new projects between 2011 and 2015.
ONEOK Partners is projecting 20% annual EBITDA growth through at least 2014. In 2012, the company expects to increase the distribution rate by 2.5 cents each quarter with continued 15% to 20% distribution growth through 2014.
Outside of a four quarter stretch in 2008 and 2009, ONEOK Partners has consistently increased the quarterly distribution rate each quarter since the start of 2006. The payout rate has increased from a split-adjusted 40 cents per unit to the 63.5 cents paid in May 2012. Company management has put in a 5 cent increase for board approval for the next dividend to be declared in July and paid in August this year. The projected dividend puts the distribution yield for ONEOK Partners at 5.15% at the current share price of $53.20 and not including future dividend increases.
ONEOK Partner has been very good to investors and appears to be poised to continue an above market growth record. According to a recent company presentation, over the last three years - through 4/30/2012 - ONEOK Partners has provided a 185% return to shareholders, compared to a 130% return from the Alerian MLP Index and 70% posted by the S&P 500.
On an final note, the G.P. holder, ONEOK, Inc. does very well from the ONEOK Partners growth. With the general partner rights and the limited partner holdings, two-thirds of any earnings growth is paid to ONEOK . However the two share prices, OKE and OKS, generally move in tandem, so it makes sense to collect the extra yield from the Partners.