Balanced View on Enbridge Energy - Analyst Blog

By Zacks Equity Research,

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We reaffirmed our Neutral recommendation on Enbridge Energy Partners L.P. ( EEP ) on Nov 26, 2013, based on its complimentary position to reap benefits from its diversified business portfolio and stable fee-based operating income. However, a volatile natural gas price environment is expected to weigh on the stock. The company holds a Zacks Rank #3, which is equivalent to a short-term Hold rating.

Why Maintained?

Enbridge Energy Partners is a master limited partnership, engaged in the gathering, processing and transmission of natural gas and crude oil. The partnership is best known for its ownership of the Lakehead System, one of the world's longest petroleum pipeline systems that transfers over 60% of the Canadian oil output to the U.S. This unique position helps the partnership to capitalize on the growing Canadian oil sands production.

A focus on fee-based and diversified businesses has enabled Enbridge Energy Partners to dilute its business risks, as well as steadily increase its earnings profile. We remain positive on Enbridge given its wider exposure to the Bakken Shale, the Haynesville Shale and GraniteWash. We believe these growth prospects have not been fairly captured by its current yield of 7.2%.

The partnership has a number of organic growth projects lined up for the next two years, focused on natural gas liquids (NGLs) and crude oil. The projects - the majority of which will be productive by 2014 - are driven by the sharp rise in liquids drilling from prolific shale plays in the U.S., including the Bakken Expansion, Border to Flanagan Expansion, Cushing Terminal Expansion and the Texas Express NGL pipeline.

Enbridge's Liquids segment is also poised to benefit from the current economics of producing oil, increased output from the Bakken Shale and Canadian Oil Sands regions as well as higher revenues from Alberta Clipper. The partnership's $2.3 billion capex budget for 2013 mainly comprises 74% Liquids and 26% Natural Gas projects. In Liquids, the emphasis will likely be on rising crude takeaway capacity in the Bakken and intensifying capacity to ship crude eastward to the upper Midwest and Canada refineries. The majority of projects will be commissioned by 2014. Enbridge is also assessing other expansion projects worth $4 billion through 2015, including Alberta Clipper and Southern Access crude pipeline expansions.

Moreover, the Texas Express Line, expected to come online by second quarter 2014, will facilitate the transfer of additional NGL volume to Mont Belvieu. We believe these projects will lead to distribution growth, which is projected at 2-5% for the next couple of years.

However, Enbridge's midstream natural gas business is sensitive to changes in natural gas supply, demand fundamentals and commodity cycles associated with gas processing margins.

Furthermore, through the expansion of its natural gas gathering and processing business, Enbridge has increased its risk exposure to commodity prices.

Other Stocks to Consider

However, until any upward revision in the Zacks Rank on Enbridge, other better-ranked stocks in the oil and gas sector include Matador Resources Company ( MTDR ), SM Energy Company ( SM ) and Abraxas Petroleum Corp. ( AXAS ). These are expected to perform impressively over the next few months and carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

ABRAXAS PETE/NV (AXAS): Free Stock Analysis Report

ENBRIDGE EGY PT (EEP): Free Stock Analysis Report

MATADOR RESOURC (MTDR): Free Stock Analysis Report

SM ENERGY CO (SM): Free Stock Analysis Report

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Zacks Investment Research

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Business , Stocks
Referenced Stocks: AXAS , EEP , MTDR , SM

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