What: Units of Crestwood Equity Partners (NYSE:CEQP) rallied sharply last month, closing up 19.7%. Driving these big gains were three separate catalysts.
So what: Initially igniting Crestwood Equity Partners' rally was its first-quarter results. While the company's results are being negatively impacted by the weak oil and gas market, it was still able to deliver better than expected performance in its gathering and processing segments. That performance, when combined with its progress on a number of strategic initiatives, puts the company on pace to end the year in a much stronger position. Among the most noteworthy accomplishments was the announcement of a joint venture partnership with Consolidated Edison (NYSE:ED). Under the terms of that deal Crestwood would contribute its Stagecoach Gas Services business while Consolidated Edison would inject $975 million, which would be distributed directly to Crestwood.
This progress earned the company an upgrade from Stifel, which now rates Crestwood Equity Partners a buy to go along with a $20 price target. While the company's first quarter results underperformed Stifel's expectations, it sees the company as a turnaround story. That's due in part to the bounce back in the company's gathering and processing segment as well as the strategic progress it's making. Further, Stifel likes that the company won't incur a tax liability relating to its joint venture with Consolidated Edison or from debt repurchases.
Speaking of debt repurchases, the company announced last month that it would increase the amount of debt purchased as a result of its tender offer. After initially offering to repurchase $250 million in debt at a slight discount to principal value, the company has increased its maximum purchase to $312 million. In doing so, the company will reduce its outstanding debt by that amount, but only pay about $0.96 on the dollar for the debt.
Now what: Crestwood Equity Partners is clearly making progress on its turnaround plan. If things play out as the company expects its leverage and its coverage ratio should be among the leaders in its peer group by the end of the year. That will give the company a strong foundation to build upon as industry conditions begin to improve.