Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Is Kinder Morgan a Buy?

By Matthew DiLallo – Apr 27, 2019 at 4:34PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The pipeline giant’s stock has been red-hot this year.

Shares of Kinder Morgan (KMI 0.87%) have been on fire in 2019. The pipeline giant's stock has rallied about 30% to around $20 per share. That big-time bounce-back probably has investors wondering if they've missed the upside.

While Kinder Morgan isn't quite the value it was to start the year, that doesn't mean it's no longer attractive. That's evident as we take a closer look at the pipeline giant's value proposition to investors.

A hand drawing a balance scale weighing price and value.

Image source: Getty Images.

It's still a good value

Kinder Morgan expects to haul in $5 billion, or $2.20 per share, of distributable cash flow this year. The company remains on track with that forecast after posting solid first-quarter results despite the emergence of some headwinds. With shares recently around $20 apiece, the stock sells for about nine times cash flow. While that's a bit higher than the eight times it fetched earlier this year, it's well below the mid-teens multiple of most peers.

That valuation discount doesn't make much sense. For starters, Kinder Morgan boasts a top-notch financial profile. Its balance sheet has improved so much in the past couple of years that two credit rating agencies recently upgraded its rating. On top of that, the company has solid growth prospects, including the expectation that cash flow will expand by 10% this year. These characteristics suggest the company should at least trade near the peer-group average, if not above that level.

It pays an attractive dividend

As promised, Kinder Morgan increased its dividend 25% for 2019. That boosted the current yield up to around 5.1%. The company can easily support that payout since it will only consume about 45% of its cash flow. That will leave it with roughly $2.7 billion in excess cash, which will fund the bulk of its $3.1 billion expansion program. It can use its strong balance sheet to cover the difference.

Kinder Morgan expects that it will boost its dividend by another 25% next year. That implies a forward yield of 6.3%. Next year's payout would consume about 57% of its current cash flow rate, which is still at a conservative level for a pipeline company.

It has solid growth prospects

As mentioned, Kinder Morgan is on track to grow cash flow by about 10% this year. Driving that growth is the company's investment to expand its operations, including the $2.5 billion spent last year and the $3.1 billion anticipated in 2019. Much of this year's spending is on projects that won't enter service until later this year or in 2020. Because of that, the company has ample growth ahead.

Overall, Kinder Morgan expects to invest $6.1 billion on high-return expansion projects over the next few years. This number includes the $600 million of new projects it locked up during the first quarter. That keeps the company on track with its aim of securing $2 billion to $3 billion on new expansion projects per year. The company has several other expansions in development that it could sanction in the coming year, including some oil pipeline projects in the Rockies and Texas, a third gas pipeline out of the Permian Basin, and another LNG export terminal. Its success in securing these and other projects will enhance the company's ability to grow its cash flow and dividend at healthy rates beyond next year.

Verdict: Kinder Morgan is still a good buy

Kinder Morgan might no longer trade at a ridiculously cheap valuation, but it's still attractive even after this year's 30% rally. Add to that a compelling 5%-yielding dividend that's not only on solid ground but on track to grow by another 25% next year. On top of all that, the company is growing at a healthy pace these days and has plenty of fuel in the tank to maintain that momentum for the next few years. That trio of factors should give Kinder Morgan the fuel to continue generating market-beating returns in the coming years, making it an ideal stock to buy right now.

Matthew DiLallo owns shares of Kinder Morgan. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Kinder Morgan. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.