Enbridge (NYSE:ENB) doesn't get enough credit for how good it has been to investors over the years. The Canadian pipeline giant has paid dividends to shareholders for more than 64 years, including increasing the payout for the last 22 consecutive years. Furthermore, these haven't just been trivial increases just to keep the streak alive because it has grown its payout by an average compound annual rate of 11.2% over the past 20 years.
That said, Enbridge is nowhere close to topping out because it has the largest capital project backlog in the sector, which it believes will fuel 10% to 12% annual dividend growth all the way through 2024, making it a dream stock for dividend investors. Given that forecast, it's safe to say that the best days for Enbridge still lie ahead.
Phase 1: The CA$28 billion ($28.8 billion) building boom
Enbridge is currently in the midst of a massive expansion phase across the U.S. and Canada as it works with energy producers and customers to link rapidly growing supply basins with market centers. This year alone, the company expects to complete 13 billion Canadian dollars ($9.7 billion) of projects, which should fuel significant near-term cash flow growth. One example of these investments is the Wood Buffalo Extension project, which it's building to support Suncor Energy's (NYSE:SU) Fort Hills oil sand mine in Alberta, Canada, that should start flowing oil later this year. That project is one of three in the region that Enbridge will finish this year to support 11 oil sands projects by Suncor and other producers.
Meanwhile, Enbridge has another CA$15 billion ($11.1 billion) of projects it expects to complete in 2018 and 2019. The largest is the CA$7.5 billion ($5.6 billion) Line 3 Replacement Program that will bring the oil export pipeline from its current 390,000-barrel-per-day operating capacity back up to its full capacity of 760,000 barrel per day. That said, oil pipelines are only part of the growth story because Enbridge has two major offshore wind farms in Europe under development and several natural gas pipelines in the U.S. and Canada under construction.
Added up, Enbridge expects these projects to fuel 12%-14% annual growth in available cash flow from operations through 2019. That rising cash flow gives the company an excellent head start on its long-term dividend growth forecast.
Phase 2: The CA$48 billion ($35.6 billion) project backlog
Enbridge is already well underway in the next phase of its growth, having secured CA$48 billion of probability weighted projects. These projects run the gamut from oil and gas pipelines to renewable energy developments, including both expansions of current systems and greenfield projects. Two notable expansion opportunities include the possibility of constructing 112 MW additional generating capacity at its 497 MW Hohe See offshore wind farm development in German and the potential capacity expansion of its T-South mainline, which is currently running at full capacity.
In addition, the company has several greenfield projects in development. These include three offshore wind farms in France, a potential East Coast LNG project, and midstream projects across the U.S. and Canada. While it's unlikely that the company will build all the projects it has under consideration, it expects to move forward with a significant number of these projects.
That's why Enbridge remains confident that it can hit its ambitious dividend growth goal and increase the payout 10% to 12% annually all the way through 2024. What's most impressive about that forecast is that none of its rivals even come close to matching it. For example, TransCanada (NYSE:TRP) only expects to grow its payout 8% to 10% annually through 2020, while ONEOK (NYSE:OKE) intends to increase its payout 9% to 11% per year through 2021. Most others either offer vague projections, expect to grow at a lower rate, or haven't put out a long-term dividend growth forecast yet. That's what makes Enbridge's forecast so remarkable -- it is so much bigger than rivals', including that of both TransCanada and ONEOK, which means it has a larger hurdle to jump. The fact that it expects to outgrow its smaller competitors shows just how robust of a backlog it has put together.
Enbridge is already the largest energy infrastructure company in North America. However, just because it's king of the hill doesn't mean it plans to take its foot off the gas. Quite the contrary, since it has secured the largest capital project backlog in the sector, which should drive peer-leading dividend growth over the next several years. That forecast suggests the Enbridge's best days are clearly in front of it.