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These High-Yield Energy Stocks Are Crazy Cheap and Surprisingly Safe

By Matthew DiLallo - Updated Sep 28, 2017 at 6:29PM

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These under-the-radar energy infrastructure companies yield more than 9%.

The energy market is still trying to move past the aftermath of the oil market downturn. That said, while crude is down about 50% from its peak, companies have cut costs and repaired their balance sheets, which suggests smoother sailing ahead even if oil remains low. However, despite the increasing likelihood that the worst is in the rearview mirror, many energy stocks trade at dirt-cheap valuations, with some of the deepest values found with energy infrastructure companies. 

Because of that, investors can pick up some impressive dividend yields that appear to be on solid ground. Two that stand out as being absurdly cheap despite offering well-supported payouts are Corenergy Infrastructure Trust (CORR 1.63%) and Crestwood Equity Partners (CEQP 0.04%).

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A different kind of REIT

Corenergy Infrastructure Trust currently yields an eye-catching 9%. One of the reasons it pays so well is that the company has chosen to structure itself as a real estate investment trust (REIT), which requires it to pay out the bulk of its earnings to investors. What's different about Corenergy compared to other REITs is that instead of owning apartment buildings or office complexes, it owns infrastructure assets like pipelines, gathering systems, and terminals that it leases to tenants under long-term contracts.

The company currently expects these contracts to generate about $4 per share in adjusted funds from operations (AFFO) this year. That number is noteworthy for two reasons. First, it provides ample coverage for the dividend, which is currently $3 per share. Second, at the company's recent $34 stock price, Corenergy Infrastructure Trust trades at just 8.5 times its projected AFFO, which is about half the multiple that many other REITs trade at these days.

Typically, when a company trades at such a depressed valuation, it's because of some underlying financial problem. However, that's not the case with Corenergy, since its adjusted total debt to total capitalization ratio is currently 21%, which is well below its 25% to 50% target range. Instead, the driving force seems to be the fact that two of its top tenants went bankrupt during the oil market downturn. However, both continued to pay their leases throughout the process and have since reemerged without making any changes to the contracts since they are critical to their operations. Because of that, Corenergy should continue to generate more than enough cash flow to cover its dividend. Additionally, it has ample financial flexibility to make acquisitions that would diversify its tenant base and increase revenue, which could eventually enable the company to raise its payout.

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Image source: Getty Images.

A similar story with a different structure

Crestwood Equity Partners offers a similarly impressive high yield that's currently up to 9.4%. Like Corenergy, one of the factors driving its higher payout is the company's chosen corporate structure. As a master limited partnership (MLP), Crestwood distributes the bulk of its earnings back to investors.

The company currently expects to generate about $3.12 per unit in distributable cash flow this year at the midpoint of its guidance. That forecast means it will produce enough money to cover the $2.40 per unit it plans to distribute to investors by 1.3 times. Furthermore, at the company's current trading price of $25, it sells at a mere eight times distributable cash flow. For comparison's sake, fellow MLPs Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP 1.32%) and MPLX (MPLX -0.83%) trade at 16.9 and 12.5 times distributable cash flow, respectively. That's despite the fact that both have lower coverage ratios, since Magellan's is 1.2 times while MPLX's is 1.25 times.

Not only does Crestwood have a well-supported payout, but it has a solid financial position, too. The company expects to get 85% of its earnings from stable take-or-pay and fixed-fee contracts this year, which is comparable to Magellan's 87% fee-based earnings, though MPLX is much higher at 95% this year. Another factor supporting Crestwood's payout is its balance sheet. While the company doesn't have an investment-grade credit rating, it does have good credit metrics. Its leverage ratio was 4.0 last quarter, and it's expected to stay below 4.5 this year and should eventually head below 4.0 once its current slate of growth projects come online. While that's a bit above MPLX's 3.8 times leverage ratio and Magellan's 3.4 level, it's not nearly as high as others in the sector.

Furthermore, not only should Crestwood's stable financial position enable the company to maintain its current payout rate, but its backlog of growth projects positions the company to increase it in the second half of next year.

The market's mistake is your opportunity

More often than not, when a dividend yield approaches the double digits, it's a signal that something is wrong. However, in the case of Crestwood Equity Partners and Corenergy Infrastructure Trust, the only thing that seems to be off is the market's view of these companies, since both inexplicably sell for dirt-cheap valuations. Because of that, investors have a rare opportunity to scoop up some well-supported ultra-high yields that both companies appear poised to grow in the coming years.

Matthew DiLallo owns shares of CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust. The Motley Fool recommends Magellan Midstream Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust, Inc. Stock Quote
CorEnergy Infrastructure Trust, Inc.
$2.49 (1.63%) $0.04
MPLX LP Stock Quote
$32.15 (-0.83%) $0.27
Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. Stock Quote
Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P.
$52.32 (1.32%) $0.68
Crestwood Equity Partners LP Stock Quote
Crestwood Equity Partners LP
$26.19 (0.04%) $0.01

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

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