Unlike many investors, I don't have my dividends automatically reinvested. Instead, I let them pile up in my account until I'm ready to put that money to work. While this takes more effort, it allows me to use that cash strategically, such as buy shares of a new company or add to an existing holding.
I recently did the latter by reinvesting some of the dividends I have collected to boost my position in midstream giant Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE: EPD). Here are the three main reasons I bought more of this dividend-paying dynamo.
1. It pays a top-notch dividend
The main draw with Enterprise Products Partners is the master limited partnership's high-yielding distribution. At the time of my purchase, units yielded about 6.1%. That's well above average, considering that stocks in the S&P 500 currently pay less than 2%.
While higher yields often come with more risk, that's not the case with Enterprise's payout. One factor driving that view is the company's highly predictable cash flow. Enterprise has secured long-term fee-based contracts to lock in about 85% of its anticipated annual earnings, which helps insulate it from volatility in the energy market. In the meantime, the company only distributes roughly 60% of its cash flow to investors. That leaves it with excess money to help fund expansion projects. The company further complements its strong financial profile with one of the highest credit ratings in the midstream sector. This financial strength enhances the long-term sustainability of Enterprise's payout.
2. It has highly visible growth
Enterprise Products Partners might be an income stock, but it still has lots of growth coming down the pipeline. The company currently has about $5 billion of expansion projects under construction, which should provide it with some incremental cash flow as they come on line over the next few years. The company also has $5 billion to $10 billion of potential opportunities in development. While it won't secure all those projects, it should be able to move forward with enough of them to continue growing its cash flow at a healthy pace. It has ample funding capacity to build these projects since it's retaining a large portion of its cash flow, and it has a top-notch balance sheet, which will allow it to continue borrowing money at attractive rates.
The MLP will likely return the bulk of its growing cash flows to investors. The company has already increased its distribution for 20 straight years, including in each of the past 59 consecutive quarters. On top of that, Enterprise has authorized a $2 billion unit repurchase program, which will help provide a boost to its per-unit growth rate.
3. It trades at an attractive valuation
Another reason why Enterprise Products Partners authorized the $2 billion unit buyback program was that it's trading at a relatively cheap valuation. The company hauled in $6 billion, or $2.74 per unit, of cash flow last year. With Enterprise's units trading at around $28.75 apiece when I bought them, it implied that the company sold for about 10.5 times cash flow. That's a dirt cheap level for a pipeline company, especially since many of Enterprise's peers sell for a multiple in the mid-teens.
Meanwhile, Enterprise Products Partners is trading at an even cheaper valuation when we start factoring in its near-term growth prospects. The company finished $1.9 billion of growth projects last year and another $1.5 billion during the first quarter. Those expansions helped fuel an 18% year-over-year increase in the MLP's cash flow during the first quarter. That fast-paced growth should continue for the next several quarters since Enterprise will not only keep benefiting as those projects ramp up but from the other $3.9 billion of expansions, it expects to complete by the end of this year. As its cash flow continues to rise, the company's unit price should follow.
Growth and income for an excellent price
Enterprise Products Partners has everything I look for in an investment. It pays an attractive, well-supported dividend, it has visible growth prospects, and it's trading at a reasonable valuation. Because of that, there's a high probability that my latest incremental investment in the company will outperform the market over the next several years.
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