Teekay Slashes Dividends, Shipping Stocks Collapse: Here's What's Happening

What:The maritime shipping industry is a hornet's nest today, with the announcement thatTeekay Corporation,Teekay LNG Partners L.P., andTeekay Offshore Partners L.P. would all cut their dividends by as much as 90% going forward. The reverberations of this move are hitting other shippers' stocks as well, withGasLog Ltd and its MLPGasLog Partners LP, along withGolar LNG Limited (USA) and its MLPGolar LNG Partners LP all down more than 10% as well:

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So what:Teekay and its partnerships are all feeling the pinch of shifting priorities in the oil and gas space. Like Golar LNG and GasLog, Teekay and its MLPs have invested in aggressive growth as global demand for natural gas, oil, and natural gas liquids like LPG is set to grow.

But now, the glut of global oil is wreaking havoc. Capital markets are weak, and companies are being forced to choose between paying a fat dividend or funding growth. Needless to say, the Teekay companies have made that choice, gutting their dividends. Teekay CEO Peter Evenson put it this way:

In other words, debt has become too expensive. And with the dividend yields Teekay and its two MLPs were paying, the effective cost of capital from a stock offering would have been outrageous.

So here we are.

Now what:Frankly, the sell-off may be overdone, since the dividend cut will provide more than enough breathing room for Teekay, Teekay LNG, and Teekay Offshore to move forward with their capital plans. The real concern, however, is how much future demand there will be for the new vessels they are building in coming years. In other words, it could be a buying opportunity for value reasons, but it may be best to let things settle first.

This is especially true when it comes to GasLog and Golar LNG, since those companies' stocks are down wholly on Teekay's announcement, and no announced dividend cuts by those companies as of this writing.

But that could change very quickly. It's clear, based on Teekay's situation, that capital is getting tight in the industry, and the move by Teekay could provide exactly the cover that GasLog and Golar LNG management needed to slash their own payments. The market's reaction today indicates that a lot of investors think that's the case, anyhow.

In other words, there could still be more downside even after today, especially for GasLog and Golar LNG, depending on whether or not their managements decide to cut their distributions.

Bottom line? It's probably worth letting the storm pass, at least for now. There could be real value in this segment, but it's likely to be choppy waters until things become more clear with Golar's and GasLog's dividend policy. Stay tuned.

The article Teekay Slashes Dividends, Shipping Stocks Collapse: Here's What's Happening originally appeared on Fool.com.

Jason Hall has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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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