If you are focused on how much damage Hurricane Harvey wrought on Magellan Midstream Partners' (NYSE:MMP) earnings last quarter, then you are probably focusing on the wrong thing. Sure, there was some minor damage that had an impact on the bottom line, but the real story investors should focus on revolves around all the new project announcements Magellan made in the quarter.

Here's a look at Magellan's most recent quarter, and what its new projects will mean for its future results.

Worker inspecting oil pipelines.

Image source: Getty Images.

Magellan Midstream Partners earnings: The raw numbers

Metric Q3 2017 Q2 2017 Q3 2016
Revenue $572.8 million $619.4 million $551.7 million
Adjusted EBITDA $313.3 million $323.9 million $311.7 million
EPS $0.87 $0.92 $0.85
Distributable cash flow $235.1 million $250.3 million $243.9 million

Source: Magellan Midstream Partners earnings release. EPS= earnings per share.

Magellan has a reputation for producing slow but steady growth, so its sequential decline in results was a bit of an aberration. The two items impacting this most recent quarter were a mark-to-market charge related to some business segments that have exposure to commodity prices, and Hurricane Harvey. Management estimates Hurricane Harvey cut EPS by $0.04, and the mark-to-market charge by $0.08. 

Almost all of these negatives came at the expense of its refined product segment, which declined significantly due to higher than expected expenses. Management estimates that these were mostly one-time charges and anticipates some improvement in the next quarter. Magellan's crude oil segment performed well, though, thanks to new assets starting operations.

MMP operating margin by business segment for Q3 2016, Q2 2017, and Q3 2017. Shows decline for refined products and an increase for crude oil.

Source: Magellan Midstream Products Partners earnings release. Chart by author.

What happened this quarter?

  • Magellan's Corpus Christi condensate splitter and an extension of its BridgeTex pipeline were both in operation for the entirety of Q3, which mostly drove the improvement in its crude oil results.
  • Management agreed to a joint venture deal with Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO) to co-own and operate the previously announced Pasadena, Texas, export facility. Magellan had already announced phase one of the project, but this gives a definitive green light for phase two, and means it will also include a pipeline connection to Valero's Houston and Texas City refineries.
  • The company announced an extension of its Longhorn pipeline to Wink, Texas, that will handle 250,000 barrels per day of crude oil and condensate with an option to expand capacity to 600,000 barrels per day. It's probably no coincidence that ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) just purchased a crude oil terminal in Wink to expand its footprint in the Permian Basin. 
  • Management gave the go-ahead for an expansion of its refined product network in Texas. The project will involve building a new pipeline from its East Houston terminal to Hearne, Texas, and to reverse the flow of an existing pipeline from Hearne to its Dallas/Fort Worth terminal. Valero Energy is also supporting this project to deliver more product from the Gulf Coast to the Texas and Arkansas markets. 
  • Distributable cash flow guidance for the quarter remained about the same at $1.02 billion, but management increased its distribution cash flow guidance for the year to 1.25 times. This hasn't altered management's plans for its payout, though, as it still anticipates increasing the distribution by 8% in 2017 and 2018.

MMP Chart

MMP data by YCharts

What management had to say

Here's CEO Michael Mears on the company's quarterly performance:

Magellan generated financial results during the third quarter of 2017 that were consistent with our expectations despite Hurricane Harvey, which negatively impacted the operations of each of our business segments for a period of time. Magellan's employees stepped up to the challenge and worked together as a true enterprisewide team to safely resume operations as soon as possible while doing our best to limit the impact to our customers and the markets we serve. Further, the third quarter of 2017 was also notable because we launched three new large-scale construction projects for fee-based refined products and crude oil pipeline and storage assets that increased our expansion capital spending by $600 million, helping to solidify Magellan's future growth.

10-second takeaway

Hurricane Harvey's impact on the quarter was minimal, so that's a good sign for investors. Management estimates that it will incur another $10 million in costs related to the hurricane in the fourth quarter, but that should be it.

More intriguing were all the new growth projects that management announced in Q3. They'll all come on line between 2019 and the end of 2020, which ensures that the company should have sufficient cash flow growth to support payout increases for at least the next few years. Magellan has done a commendable job of keeping projects on time and on budget, but it will be worth checking in from time to time on this batch to make sure things are proceeding according to plan. 

Tyler Crowe owns shares of ExxonMobil and Magellan Midstream Partners. The Motley Fool recommends Magellan Midstream Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.