With the market near all-time highs, it's getting harder and harder to find stocks offering up a decent yield. But how does a 5% yield sound? What about nearly 10%? Believe it or not, you can get those lofty yields if you look in the right places. Let's consider two dividend stocks to buy on sale: Enterprise Products Partners (EPD) and, for the more aggressive, Alliance Resource Partners (ARLP -0.64%).
Move it, move it, move it
Enterprise Products Partners is a midstream-focused limited partnership. It doesn't drill for oil and gas; instead, it helps move these vital energy sources from where they're pulled out of the ground to where they need to go. It also does some processing in between. As long as we use oil and gas, Enterprise is a vital cog in the machine.
And it's one of the biggest at that. It owns 49,000 miles of pipelines, 250 million barrels of oil storage, 14 billion cubic feet of natural gas storage, 25 gas processing plants, and 22 natural gas liquid and propylene fractionators, among other things. Being big, though, isn't enough. Kinder Morgan (KMI -1.50%) is also huge and ended up cutting its dividend because it needed cash to pay for growth projects. That's not likely to happen at Enterprise.
For starters, Enterprise was able to cover its $0.39-per-unit quarterly distribution 1.28 times over in the first quarter. That provided plenty of room for the second-quarter distribution increase, pulling the quarterly disbursement up to $0.40 a unit. The most recent distribution incersae marks the 48th consecutive quarterly one. That's impressive, and it's a pretty clear indication that Enterprise isn't planning to go the way of Kinder Morgan.
But what about growth? That's still in the cards at Enterprise, too. For example, in the first quarter, capital spending was roughly $1.1 billion, most of which went to growth projects. At the time, management said it had another $2.2 billion worth of work through the end of 2016. There's the potential for a further $4 billion over the next two years as well. As the company builds, it increases its ability to pay distributions. With around a 5.4% distribution yield and still nearly 30% off its mid-2014 highs, Enterprise is worth a deeper dive for even conservative income investors.
Alliance Resource Partners is a coal miner. And, worse, it cut its distribution earlier this year. Risk-averse investors should probably take a pass on this partnership. But if you can handle a little uncertainty, the yield of around 9.8% is extremely tempting. And so is the background story.
Alliance primarily mines for thermal coal in the Illinois Basin. The coal in this region has been displacing coal used to produce energy from other areas in the country for years. That helps explain why Alliance was, for years, able to buck the broader industry trend of falling production and sales. But it couldn't outrun the pack forever, and production and sales faltered late last year and into this year. Essentially, as coal feels the heat of low natural gas prices and environmental concerns, Alliance is starting to pull in its horns a little bit.
But here's the thing. While competitors have been forced into bankruptcy, or near to it, Alliance is still doing relatively well. For starters, it's profitable, with net income of $0.36 a share in the first quarter. And then there's the distribution. The cut hurt, but according to management, it was a sop to skittish banks so Alliance could assure that it continued to have access to the capital markets -- not a result of unexpectedly weak operating performance. And after the cut, Alliance covered its distribution 1.6 times over in the first quarter. That's better coverage than Enterprise.
There's no question that the coal market will be a key factor in Alliance's future. And that space is under stress right now. But Alliance has survived the coal downturn better than virtually all of its peers and still has a strong business. Moreover, in an early June investor conference, the partnership said it was starting to see signs of stabilization in the coal market. So there may be some silver linings showing up on the dark clouds, finally. Alliance plans to be around long enough to see the brighter days.
Two to consider
Enterprise and Alliance sit on opposite sides of the risk spectrum, but both have an interesting story to tell. They are, in the end, two dividend stocks you can buy on sale today. Enterprise and its roughly 5.4% distribution yield have been dragged down by the oil bust, even though the company continues to put up good results. Conservative investors looking for yield should strongly consider it. Alliance is one of the best players in a lousy industry. The yield of over 9% looks justified in many ways, particularly after a distribution cut. But for more aggressive investors, this coal-market survivor is worth a deep dive -- there could be big rewards, but only if you can stomach the risk.