Top picks 2012: ONEOK Partners

Natural gas fuels this MLP's attractive dividend growth.

By TheStockAdvisors Jan 11, 2012 2:47PM
Image: Natural gas plant (© Kevin Burke/Corbis)This post is one in a series in which over 50 newsletter advisors share their Top Picks for 2012.

By Carla Pasternak, High-Yield Investing

ONEOK Partners LP (OKS) -- my top income idea for 2012 -- has three major businesses: natural gas gathering and processing, natural gas pipelines, and natural gas liquids (NGLs).

ONEOK has consistently raised its distribution, typically in half- or full-cent increments, since 2006 when the master limited partnership (MLP) was reorganized.

In 2006 ONEOK distributed a split-adjusted $1.80 per unit; in 2011 it distributed a split-adjusted $2.325 per unit, for a cumulative growth rate of 29%. Management's stated intention is to grow the distribution an additional 5% to 10% annually in 2012 and 2013, as recent growth projects boost cash flow. The latest quarterly distribution of $0.595 per unit annualizes to $2.38 per unit, providing a forward yield of 4.4%.

Revenues have generally trended higher, with some hiccups along the way. Revenues of $7.7 billion in 2008 fell to $6.5 billion in 2009, recovered to $8.7 billion in 2010, and are estimated at $10.6 billion for 2011.

Diluted per-unit earnings follow a similar pattern. They reached $3.00 in 2008, fell back to $1.80 in 2008, plateaued at $1.75 in 2010, and are projected to have increased to $2.45 in 2011, after adjusting for a 2:1 stock split in July.

Trading at 13 times cash flow, ONEOK is in line with its pipeline peers. However, given its stellar five-year distribution growth rate of 5.5% annually versus just 4.1% for its peers, ONEOK deserves to be trading at a premium valuation.

ONEOK plans capital investments of between $2.7 billion and $3.3 billion up to 2014; these investments, plus those made in previous years, should provide the basis for future revenue and earnings growth as well as distribution increases.

ONEOK has shown strong historical distribution growth and has promised to continue raising the distribution going forward. As a result, the yield on cost should continue to improve over time.

See all 50+ stocks in our Top Picks Report 2012.

Steven Halpern's TheStockAdvisors.com​​ offers a free daily review of the favorite stock ideas of the nation's top financial newsletter advisors.
Tags: OKS
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