Breitburn Energy Partners L.P. is Optimistic on Acquisitions

By Fool.com

Acquisitions fuelBreitburn Energy Partners L.P.'s growth. Over the past three years the company has acquired over $4.5 billion in oil and gas properties, which have more than doubled the company's proved reserves and production. Given its appetite for such purchses, the company understandably would like to take advantage of the current market downturn to be an active buyer. Breitburn CEO Hal Washburn made the abundantly clear on the company's latest quarterly conference call.

Growing more optimistic on acquisitionsWhen oil prices plunge oil and gas companies are forced to to take a hard look at their asset base and liquidity. Many companies realize they need to improve liquidity, and the best way to do that is to sell mature assets, which plays right into the hands of a company such as Breitburn as it seeks to acquiremature assets.

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That being said, energy companies have been much slower to shed assets in this market than in past downturns. As Washburn stated:

As this situation develops, Washburn said:

Acquisitions that drive value creation would be key for Breitburn by fueling growth and possibly solving a big problem facing the company.

Acquisitions: The key to balance sheet improvementAside from driving production and reserves growth, acquisitions could also improve Breitburn's balance sheet. This is because the company plans to issue equity to pay for deals rather than using more debt. Washburn suggested Breitburn would"Look at acquisitions as a way to delever balance sheet, so I would say that over equitizing or otherwise financing acquisitions of size, it would make sense."

The company has previously used both debt and equity to fund deals, but it has used more debt than it should as it took advantage of its inexpensive credit facility to fund several deals. Now that its credit facility has limited borrowing capacity, BreitBurn is looking to use more equity to fund deals, which would shift its debt-to-equity ratio more toward the equity side. As the chart below shows, that ratio has weakened over the past year as the downturn has drastically reduced the equity value of the company's oil and gas assets.

BBEP Financial Debt to Equity (Quarterly) data by YCharts.

Nonetheless, Breitburn Energy Partners isn't in a rush to make a deal. Washburn said the company has "a lot of opportunities and we have a business that runs quite well without any acquisitions in the next few years, but we also expect to make acquisition." Rather than deal making for deal making's sake, Breitburn is looking for the right fit within its business plan, which is to acquire an underutilized asset that it can exploit by investing to develop the asset to its full potential.

Investor takeawayAcquisitions are an important source of growth for Breitburn, which is why it hopes to take advantage of current market conditions to be an active buyer. Furthermore, it sees acquisitions as an opportunity to delever its balance sheet, which has become laden with debt after management used debt to make several deals over the past few years. While the buying market has been slow to develop, Breitburn is optimistic that opportunities are on the horizon.

The article Breitburn Energy Partners L.P. is Optimistic on Acquisitions originally appeared on Fool.com.

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends BreitBurn Energy Partners. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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