Which Kinder Morgan Should You Buy in 2014?

Kinder Morgan is a big midstream company with a number of different investment entities. Its four different tickers allow you to pick which asset mix, growth profile, and tax advantages you want. While it would be simple to buy the ticker with the highest yield, it pays to take a deeper look. 

The contenders
Kinder Morgan, 
(NYSE: KMI  ) is the overarching C-corporation. It owns a little bit of everything, giving you exposure to the Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. markets. Its cash flow is quite diversified, with only 56% of 2013 cash flow is expected to come from natural gas pipelines.

Kinder Morgan also gives you good exposure to organic growth projects like the Canadian Trans Mountain and Niagara expansions. It is expected that it will grow at a long-term growth rate of 9% to 10% from 2015 to 2017, the highest growth rate within the Kinder Morgan family.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP  (NYSE: KMP  ) and Kinder Morgan Management, LLC  (NYSE: KMR  ) are basically the same company. The difference is that the first is a partnership and the second is an LLC that pays out its distribution in the form of additional shares. The companies enjoy the greatest diversification of all of the Kinder Morgan businesses. In 2013, natural gas pipelines are only expected to provide 43% of cash flow, while CO2-related actives will provide 25%.

Like Kinder Morgan, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP and Kinder Morgan Management, LLC are set to benefit from the Trans Mountain expansion from Alberta to the West Coast. Regardless, getting Trans Mountain approved may take a while. From 2015 to 2017, this LP and LLC are only expected to see long-term growth rates from 5% to 6%.

El Paso Pipeline Partners LP (NYSE: EPB  ) was purchased in 2011 and now serves as the second publicly traded Kinder Morgan partnership. If you are looking for targeted exposure to natural-gas pipelines, then El Paso is a good fit. All of its expected 2013 revenue comes from its natural-gas pipelines in the Southern and Western U.S.

In the long run, this company has a good opportunity to help the Southern U.S. move more of its electricity generation to natural gas. It also services the Elba Island LNG import terminal and is looking at converting the terminal into an LNG export facility.

Tax efficiency is an important aspect of any investment. One of the most attractive qualities of Kinder Morgan Management, LLC is that it pays its dividends as stock, letting you defer taxes until you sell your shares.

The El Paso and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LPs pay no federal income taxes. Their income is passed onto the investor and you are stuck dealing with a K-1 form at the end of the year. Kinder Morgan trades as a normal corporation and pays its dividends in cash, leaving you to pay dividend taxes.

Valuation and debt
The Kinder Morgan companies are priced quite similarly, and they have not seen their valuations shoot up to unreasonable levels. Kinder Morgan trades around 8.2 times cash flow, Kinder Morgan Energy Partners trades around 7.6 times cash flow, and El Paso Pipeline Partners trades around 9.2 times cash flow. 

Kinder Morgan's total debt-to-equity ratio of 2.7 and El Paso Pipeline Partners' total debt-to-equity ratio of 2.1 look high when compared to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners' total debt-to-equity ratio of 1.3, but Kinder Morgan Inc is the parent company and its assets and debts are transferred to the MLPs. It is natural that El Paso and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners have relatively high total debt-to-equity ratios because of the overarching corporate structure and the high capital requirements of the midstream industry. With a number of growth projects and stable income, these debt loads are reasonable. 

Final thoughts
In the end, Kinder Morgan Management, LLC, is one of the most attractive companies of the group. It pays its dividend in the form of shares, allowing you to defer paying taxes until you sell your position. It trades with historical yield of 6.4% and offers exposure to a number of product segments. El Paso trades at a higher historical yield of around 7.4%, but it is less diversified. If you want to stick with a traditional C-corporation and do not mind paying dividend taxes, Kinder Morgan offers diversification and a lower yield of around 4.6%.

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  • Report this Comment On January 02, 2014, at 4:06 PM, humbledutch wrote:

    Hi Joshua,

    I'm not a USA resident. In how far would I benefit from buying KMR? Meaning, do I pay 15% taxes when selling too? Other question, how many stocks do I need to buy to profit from these additional shares each time they are distributed?



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Joshua Bondy

Joshua Bondy works in the energy and materials sector. He works hard to bring to light the underlying forces that drive prices and move the market.

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