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How Analysts View the Top MLPs at the Beginning of 2019

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Jan. 8 2019, Updated 12:39 p.m. ET

MLPs in 2019

Midstream energy companies had poor performances in 2018. So far, 2019 has brought many lucrative opportunities in the space. Including dividends, the Alerian MLP ETF (AMLP), the representative of the largest energy MLPs in the country, returned -12%, while crude oil cracked almost 30% last year. Many MLP giants expect strong earnings growth in 2019 based on analysts’ estimates. In this series, we’ll see how Wall Street analysts view these MLPs. We’ll also discuss MLPs’ current valuations and target prices.

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Strong potential upside

The above chart shows the estimated upside offered by MLP giants based on the target prices from Wall Street analysts. Among the top five, Energy Transfer (ET) offers a potential upside of 50% for the next 12 months. Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) stock has an implied upside of 22% going forward.

Increasing production volumes had a favorable impact on MLPs’ earnings last year. However, geopolitical tensions hampered crude oil prices and MLPs late last year. MLPs played out well when crude oil’s weakness was worse in October. MLPs are relatively more defensive compared to other energy sectors due to their fee-based operations and comparatively lower exposure to energy commodity prices.

Currently, MLPs offer a handsome total return potential considering their higher distribution yield and estimated upside based on analysts’ estimates. AMLP offers a distribution yield of 8.6%, which is a spread of more than 6%–7% compared to broader markets and Treasury yields.

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