This High-Yield Energy Stock Is Expensive, but for Good Reason

Genesis Energy has a great business plan and solid fundamentals, but it's no bargain.

Jul 21, 2014 at 9:15AM

Often, companies may lose focus and begin operating in unfamiliar or even unrelated business lines. This can lead investors to wonder if such a company knows where it's going, what it's trying to do, or how it intends to make money.

Based on its logical business model, Genesis Energy (NYSE:GEL) is definitely not in that category, and its performance shows it. The company recently announced the latest in a long series of distribution increases, which probably surprised no one. Genesis has a clear business model and solid financials, which is why the market isn't providing many opportunities to buy the company at bargain prices.

A company that knows where it's going
Genesis is a master limited partnership (MLP) providing transport and storage for crude oil and petroleum products, primarily in the Gulf of Mexico region. It owns its general partner outright, and conducts operations through its Pipeline Transportation, Refinery Services, and Supply & Logistics divisions.

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Courtesy Genesis Energy

As the slide above shows, these three divisions work together to allow Genesis to profit from every point in the process chain. Its pipeline division supplies CO2 to producing companies at the oil and gas production wells. The supply and logistics division handles the movement of crude oil from the wells to its pipelines via a fleet of more than 270 trucks and trailers, 50 barges, 80 railcars, and 1.6 million barrels of storage capacity.

Arriving at the Gulf refineries through the pipeline division's 1,000-mile network, the sour oil needs to be purged of its high sulfur content. That's the job of Genesis Energy's refinery services division, which markets the resulting sodium hydrosulfide to customers involved in pulp and paper processing, mining, waste treatment, and other industries. Finally, the supply and logistics division deploys its fleets to move the refined products such as fuel oil, asphalt, diesel, and gasoline to customers in wholesale markets.

Continued growth
Genesis is moving ahead with several projects. One that is nearing completion is a joint venture with Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD) to construct a 149-mile pipeline to transport oil from the Lucius discovery in the Gulf of Mexico. The 18-inch pipeline will have a capacity of 115,000 barrels per day and should be completed later this year. Estimates for the Lucius field place it at about 300 million barrels of oil equivalent.

Genesis is also working with ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) to improve and develop new infrastructure around ExxonMobil's Anchorage tank farm and its large Baton Rouge refinery. Genesis has already completed a new 18-mile crude oil pipeline connecting Port Hudson, LA to the Scenic Station Terminal and downstream to the tank farm. It has also completed upgrades to the barge dock and storage facilities at Port Hudson. The company expects to complete a new crude oil unit train facility at the Scenic Station Terminal later this year.

The completed Pronghorn project in Wyoming is a good example of how Genesis Energy's strategic thinking adds value for its customers. This involved construction of the only unit train export facility in the Powder River Basin to be jointly served by both the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and the Union Pacific Railroad. This joint service provides shippers with maximum flexibility on destination, allowing them to take advantage of market opportunities and boost profits.

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Courtesy Genesis Energy

All of this translates into disciplined growth and consistently rising returns for unitholders. Although revenues remain steady and margins are thin, Genesis managed to increase net income by 30% in the quarter ended March 31 versus the same quarter last year. Most importantly for MLP investors, the company's distributions are rising and the coverage ratio was an acceptable 1.10 for the quarter.

Should Fools rush in?
There's no publicly traded general partner for Genesis, just a wholly owned subsidiary, so investors who don't want the MLP tax complexities have nowhere to turn here. Genesis is really more suitable for those interested in tax-advantaged current income or estate planning.

The market has clearly already discovered this gem, and has been bidding up the price steadily over the past few years. Lately, with the yield at an unimpressive 4.1% and the P/E ratio at 51, the company's rise has tapered off.

Investors buying for long-term income growth could be amply rewarded, but those looking for quick price appreciation may be disappointed. Genesis could be a good candidate for slow accumulation through dollar-cost averaging as a way to lower costs and juice the yield a bit.

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Scott Percival has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products 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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