Investors' love affair with high-yielding pipeline stocks during the long period of lower interest rates coming out of the financial crisis has ended. Not only did the oil market crash sour investors on the sector, but the Federal Reserve has started increasing interest rates again, making less risky assets like bonds and CDs more appealing.
Because of that, many investors are staying away from this once-loved sector. However, that's causing them to miss out on several attractive opportunities to collect a fast-growing income stream. Three of these hated dividend stocks that are great buys right now are Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Enbridge (NYSE:ENB), and Williams Companies (NYSE:WMB).
Nothing left to prove
Investors continued showing their disdain for Kinder Morgan last year by selling off shares by another 15%. That decline came even though the company did everything that shareholders could have wanted. For starters, the pipeline giant gave them a gigantic 60% dividend increase last year. On top of that, it clarified its growth prospects by selling its troubled Trans Mountain Pipeline in Canada while securing several other expansions to cushion that blow. It exceeded its leverage reduction target as well, thanks in part to the sale of Trans Mountain, and was also on pace to beat its full-year earnings forecast.
Kinder Morgan's successful efforts in 2018 put it on track to deliver accelerated growth in 2019. As things currently stand, it expects to generate $2.20 per share in distributable cash flow, which would be a record level. With shares selling for around $17 apiece at the moment, it implies that Kinder Morgan trades at an absurdly cheap price of less than eight times cash flow, or more than 50% below what investors valued it when they were in love with the stock a few years ago. The company also expects to give shareholders another 25% dividend increase this year, as well as in 2020. At the current share price, investors who buy today can lock in a 5.8% yield for 2019 and 7.2% for 2020. At some point, investors will see just how attractive the company has become. In the meantime, income seekers can secure an enticing income stream.
Making all the right moves
Canadian oil pipeline giant Enbridge also sold off big-time last year, slumping 20.5%. That sell-off also came even though the company did everything in its power to please investors. With its leverage ratio rising above their comfort zone as the company financed its large slate of expansion projects, Enbridge pledged to sell 3 billion Canadian dollars ($2.3 billion) in noncore assets last year to ease concerns. However, the company would go on to sign deals to sell CA$7.5 billion ($5.7 billion) of assets in 2018 to further improve its balance sheet. In addition, it simplified its complex corporate structure by acquiring all its publicly traded affiliates in a move that will enable it to retain more cash to fund expansions.
The company continued to progress its expansion plan by not only bringing CA$7 billion ($5.3 billion) of new projects into service last year but by securing CA$1.8 billion ($1.4 billion) of new growth investments. As a result, Enbridge is on track to increase earnings by a 10% annual rate through 2020. That enabled it to boost its dividend another 10% for 2019, which when combined with last year's sell-off, pushed its yield up to 6.4%. That's an income stream investors should love, especially since Enbridge expects it to rise by another 10% in 2020.
Punished despite the progress
Williams Companies endured the biggest sell-off among this pipeline trio, plunging 27.7% in 2018. That shellacking came even though the pipeline company started growing again and made several noteworthy strategic moves. Like Enbridge, Williams Companies streamlined its corporate structure last year by acquiring its master limited partnership in a move that will allow it to retain more cash to finance future expansions. Meanwhile, it finished a major gas pipeline expansion last year, which sets it up for fast-paced growth in 2019. It also sold some noncore assets to firm up its balance sheet as well as to reinvest in higher-returning opportunities.
Consequently, the company enters 2019 in its best position in years. It expects to grow earnings at a double-digit rate this year, which should support a similar increase in its 5.4%-yielding dividend. Williams has enough expansion projects under construction and in development to give it the confidence that it can grow earnings at a 5% to 7% annual pace beyond this year.
Lower stock prices = higher dividend yields
The market made it clear that it has no love for pipeline stocks after selling off this trio last year even though they made all the right moves. Investors who are willing to look past the market's current distaste for the sector can therefore score some attractive income streams that should grow at a healthy pace not only in 2019 but in the years to come.