Why Shares of Eagle Rock Energy Partners LP Plunged Today

Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.

What: Shares of oil and gas producer Eagle Rock Energy Partners (NASDAQ: EROC  ) dropped 18% today after committing the cardinal sin of suspending its distribution.

So what: The sale of Eagle Rock's midstream business to Regency Energy was delayed when the Federal Trade Commission requested more information. To maintain liquidity before the deal closes, the company suspended the normal distribution. Since most investors buy MLPs for their distributions, which were $0.74 per share last year, the sell-off is understandable.

Now what: Long-term debt stood at a whopping $1.3 billion at the end of 2013, and that will squeeze the company if the asset sale doesn't close soon. But if you're willing to take the risk that the deal will close, management has said distributions will continue when the sale is complete. I actually think this is a good buying opportunity for investors looking to jump into Eagle Rock because the delay could be short-lived, and shares would recover nicely if it is.

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