ONEOK (NYSE:OKE) has provided its investors with a steady stream of good news this year. In April, for example, the company boosted its dividend, added a new expansion project, and reported strong first-quarter results. All that good news has helped drive the pipeline giant's stock up 24% this year. Add in its 5.3%-yielding dividend and ONEOK's total return is up to more than 27%.
The company gave its investors even more good news last week. Not only did it increase its dividend once again, but it also added a few more expansion projects to its backlog. More positives could be on the way this week since ONEOK expects to report its second-quarter results. A strong showing in that period could give the company's stock even more fuel to continue rising. Here's what to look for in that report.
See if it remains on pace with its full-year forecast
ONEOK delivered solid first-quarter results earlier this year. The company generated $637.5 million of adjusted EBITDA and $506.8 million of distributable cash flow (DCF), which were up 12% and 17%, respectively, from the year-ago period. That solid start to the year kept the company on track with its full-year guidance. This forecast would see the company produce between $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion of adjusted EBITDA -- up 6% from 2018 at the midpoint -- while DCF would be in the range of $1.82 billion and $2.06 billion, about 7% above last year's level.
The hope is that ONEOK will report excellent second-quarter results this week that would keep it on track to achieve at least the midpoint of its 2019 forecast. One of the biggest drivers of the company's outlook is its natural gas liquids (NGL) segment, where it sees volumes rising 11%. Several factors help fuel that forecast. The company, for example, expects to complete the southern leg of its Elk Creek pipeline in the third quarter. It will also benefit from two expansion projects it finished last year. In addition to that, ONEOK should get a boost from connecting more natural gas processing plants to its system, including the Demicks Lake I plant that it expects to finish later this year. That plant will also be a key growth driver in its natural gas gathering and processing division.
Given that a critical driver of ONEOK's forecast is the upcoming completion of two large-scale expansion projects, the company needed to remain on track with construction. Ideally, ONEOK will report that it's on schedule and on budget with both projects.
Check if it secured any more expansion projects
ONEOK has been steadily adding more fuel to its growth tank this year. In April, for example, the company said it would invest $100 million to construct a 75-mile NGL pipeline. This line would connect the northern portion of the Bakken NGL pipeline to a third-party gas processing plant. The company expects to complete that project by the end of next year, which will help supply NGLs to its Elk Creek system.
Meanwhile, the company added three more projects last week. It plans to expand its Bear Creek natural gas processing facility in the Bakken, increase its ability to process NGLs in the mid-continent, and expand its West Texas LPG pipeline in the Permian Basin. Overall, it expects to invest about $700 million into those projects, which should all start up by the first quarter of 2021.
The company has more projects under development that it could potentially announce this week. One that investors should keep an eye on is a potential NGL export facility on the Gulf Coast. CEO Terry Spencer stated during the first-quarter conference call that the company's commercial team was continuing to evaluate this project. It's a noteworthy one for the company because it would enable ONEOK to provide a "wellhead-to-water" solution to customers by allowing it to gather production from wells, process it, and then export it to global markets. This full suite of services would enable ONEOK to make more money on each barrel it handles for customers.
All eyes are on execution
ONEOK needs to complete its current slate of expansion projects on schedule to stay on track with its full-year forecast. That makes it a key item for investors to watch this week. In addition, the company needs to continue securing new projects to keep its growth engine well fueled. If it can do both this week, then that good news could help push its stock price even higher this year.