Today's investor is likely in a real quandary. On one hand, the overall market is trading at valuations we haven't seen all that often. On the other, buying bargain-basement, high-yield stocks is like picking through a dumpster on a hot day lately because the only stocks with extremely high yields look questionable at best.
For those who want to buy high-quality companies at a cheap price that also carry a decent dividend to boot, good luck. Almost all company worth a long-term investment is trading for rather inflated prices. The key word there is "almost." because there are still a few businesses that carry high yields and trade at reasonable prices. When you also consider their growth opportunities in the long run, they look downright cheap.
Three companies that fit this mold today are Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD), STAG Industrial (NYSE:STAG), and Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP). Here's a quick look at why today's decent price tag could be a steal in the long run.
Cheap by Enterprise's standards
Let's face it; some stocks simply don't go on sale that often or at all. The business and the management team are too good for the company to ever sell at a significant discount. Enterprise Products Partners falls into that category. The company has been able to raise its payout every quarter for more than 12 years. THat is a period that has seen two incredible oil price crashes and the Great Recession.
There are lots of reasons why the company has been able to do this: Its fee-based revenues that ensure steady cash flows, its modest debt levels, a robust backlog of development projects, etc. What all of these things boil down to, though, is a focused, disciplined management team. A company that pays out a high yield and tried to grow that payout at the same time has a tendency to fail in the long run because they don't balance those two things out with financial discipline. Enterprise, on the other hand, consistently has several billion dollars in projects under construction yet manages to keep its debt leverage ratios low. The scarcity of companies that can manage these three things all at once is what makes Enterprise so valuable as an investment.
If we look at Enterprises current stock price, there isn't any particular reason to think that the stock is on sale. At an enterprise value to EBITDA ratio of 15.8 and a distribution yield of 6.1%, shares are more or less in line with 10-year historical averages. For individual investors, though, this seems like a reasonable price for a company that pays a 6% yield and has been able to grow that payout every year since it went public in 1998.
A company that could benefit from the rise of Amazon
For investors in individual companies, there is nothing that strikes fear more than Amazon press releases that say it's venturing into another company's specialty. People are pulling their money out of traditional retailers in droves, and grocery stores are recoiling after Amazon announced it was buying Whole Foods.
One thing that isn't discussed much is the companies that could benefit immensely from Amazon's dominance of the retail industry. One such company is real estate investment trust STAG Industrial. Ok, perhaps I should be a little more broad with my statement. STAG's business of owning and renting out industrial spaces such as warehouses and logistics terminals should reap substantial rewards with the growth of e-commerce.
Unlike most REITs that focus on multi-tenant properties such as offices, malls, or residential properties, STAG looks at single-tenant industrial properties that many other eschew. Yes, if the company can't lease that individual property, then it's a binary situation. However, when you have thousands of properties like this, it spreads the risk around. At the same time, STAG benefits from lower capital requirements for these kinds of properties and tends to generate higher capitalization rates than more sought after properties. Of the $250 billion in assets that fit this mold, STAG only owns 1% of the market, so there is lots of room to grow.
Even though STAG has carved out a unique niche in the REIT industry and has made a compelling investment case with a 5% dividend yield, STAG's stock currently sells at an enterprise value to EBITDA ratio of 20, which is at the low end of property REITs. When you consider the incredible growth opportunities for STAG and its reasonable stock price, this looks like a great high yield investment.
A stable cash flow base with a large growth opportunity ahead
Brookfield Renewable Partners is an investment in the alternative energy industry like no other. Sure, it has the potential to tap into the massive opportunity that will be the development of solar and wind assets over the next several years, but there are dozens of companies looking to do the same. What makes Brookfield Renewable Partners unique is that it can support the development of solar & wind projects using the cash flows from its already sizable portfolio of hydroelectric power assets.
Today, about 88% of Brookfield's power generating capacity comes from hydroelectric power. These assets tend to have a longer economic life than just about every other type of power producing methods. Furthermore, hydro is a base load producer that delivers power much more consistently than other intermittent renewable sources.
I'm not arguing that hydro is better than other renewable assets. Instead, it highlights the cash generating backbone at Brookfield Renewable Partners that should help fuel its growth. Brookfield's management currently targets a payout ratio of 70% of funds from operations. This gives the company a decent chunk of internally generated cash to buy or develop new assets and help the company meet its annual total return target of 12%-15%. Finding those investments shouldn't be too hard when 75% of the $10 trillion invested in energy between now and 2040 is likely going toward renewable investments, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
With a dividend yield of 5.7% and an enterprise value to EBITDA of 20.9 times, Brookfield doesn't look like the cheapest high yield dividend stock on the market. Again, though, you need to consider the quality of the business and its ability to pay that dividend through the good times and bad. For a company that targets a total return in the mid-teens with a portfolio of stable revenue, long life assets, that seems like a price worth paying.
John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Tyler Crowe owns shares of Enterprise Products Partners. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon and Whole Foods Market. The Motley Fool recommends Enterprise Products Partners and Stag Industrial. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.