Revenue Up at Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Beating Expectations

Kinder Morgan (NYSE: KMI  ) and Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE: KMP  ) released their fourth-quarter and full-year earnings today, kicking off earnings season for the midstream industry -- and the numbers looked good.

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners reported revenue of $3.47 billion for the quarter and $12.53 billion for the full year. Both numbers beat analyst expectations, and shares were up in after-hours trading. Distributable cash flow, an important metric for master limited partnerships, was also up significantly, climbing to $635 million for the quarter, and $2.24 billion for the full year. Management increased the distribution 5% to $1.36 for the quarter, bringing the full-year payout for 2013 to $5.33. It's important to note that Kinder Morgan did achieve coverage for its distributions for the full year.

Driving the success was the massive growth in the natural gas pipeline segment. Segment earnings for this unit grew 40% year over year, primarily because of dropdowns and contributions related to Kinder Morgan's major acquisitions of El Paso and Copano energy.

All of the partnership's other business segments also outperformed last year's numbers, with the exception of Kinder Morgan Canada, which was affected by the sale of its Express-Platte system earlier this year.

As the general partner of KMP, Kinder Morgan benefits when the MLP performs well, and that's exactly what's happening now. It declared a quarterly dividend of $0.41 per share, resulting in a full-year payout of $1.60 per share. Cash available to pay dividends grew 21% from $1.4 billion in 2012 to $1.7 billion in 2013, eclipsing management's estimate of $1.63 billion.

Investors should note that KMI repurchased 5.2 million shares of its common stock in the fourth quarter for about $172 million. It has $94 million remaining in its share and warrant repurchase program.


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