Energy infrastructure provider,
Williams Partners L.P.
) announced that the regular quarterly cash distribution to its
common unitholders has been increased to $0.9045 per unit.
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The board of directors of the partnership's general partner has
approved the quarterly cash distribution, which is payable on May
9, 2014, to common unitholders of record at the close of business
on May 2.
The new per-unit amount is a 6.73% increase over the
partnership's distribution of $0.8475 per unit that was paid in
May 2013. It is also a 1.34% increase over the partnership's
previous quarterly distribution of $0.8925 per unit.
Based on the closing price of $52.21 as of Apr 22, the increased
distribution affirms a yield of 6.9%. A steady distribution
payout facilitates the long-term strategy of the partnership to
provide attractive risk-adjusted returns to its unitholders.
The distribution hike reflects continued strong performance by
Williams Partners, backed by solid operating results, good
investments and a diligent execution of its strategic plan. We
believe that the partnership will be able to generate sufficient
retruns for its unitholders in the coming years, backed by strong
operating performances and good management decisions.
On Feb 19, the partnership reported fourth quarter earnings of 12
cents per limited-partner unit, which lagged the Zacks Consensus
Estimate of 40 cents. Earnings also deteriorated 71.4% from the
year-ago profit level of 42 cents. The downcast figures were due
to loss of production from the closed Geismar olefins plant which
will resume operation not before mid 2014. Lower natural gas
liquids (NGLs) margins and higher operating costs from the
Northeast G&P segment also added to the woes.
Quarterly total revenue also decreased 11.1% year over year to
$1,616.0 million but surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of
$1,483.0 million. Notably, Williams Partners' distributable cash
flow attributable to partnership operations in the fourth quarter
was $509 million against $405 million in the year-ago quarter.
Recently, the partnership increased its quarterly cash
distribution by 7.9% year over year to 89.25 cents per unit.
Williams Partners is an energy master limited partnership engaged
in gathering, transportation, treating and processing of natural
gas as well as fractionation and storage of NGLs. The partnership
owns interests in three major interstate natural gas pipelines
that together deliver 14% of the natural gas consumed in the U.S.
The partnership's gathering and processing assets include
large-scale operations in the U.S. Rocky Mountains as well as
onshore and offshore Gulf of Mexico. The general partner of the
partnership is owned and managed by
Williams Companies Inc.
Williams Partners currently carries a short-term Zacks Rank #3
(Hold). Meanwhile, one can consider better-ranked players in the
energy sector like
Helmerich & Payne Inc.
Pioneer Energy Services Corp.
). Both the stocks sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).