ONEOK (OKE 0.21%) is enjoying an excellent year. The pipeline giant's stock has popped more than 30% so far in 2019, fueled in part by its strong quarterly results. That has enabled the company to continue increasing its dividend, which has pushed its yield up to more than 5%.
Dividend investors wiil get another look at the pipeline company's performance this week when it unveils its third-quarter results. Here are three things they should look for in that report.
1. See if its results kept it on track with its 2019 outlook
ONEOK currently expects to produce between $2.5 billion and $2.7 billion of adjusted EBITDA in 2019, along with $1.82 billion to $2.06 billion of distributable cash flow (DCF). At the midpoint, that outlook implies a 6% year-over-year increase. ONEOK was well on its way to achieving that forecast after producing $1.27 billion in Adjusted EBITDA and $1.05 billion of DCF through the first half of the year.
Ideally, the company will deliver solid third-quarter results, which will keep it on track with its forecast. That seems likely, given that the company completed the southern section of its Elk Creek NGL Pipeline in mid-July. The company "expect[s] it to provide a significant earnings uplift in the second half of 2019," according to CEO Terry Spencer. Given that view, investors should see if the company delivered. If not, they should look at what caused it to miss expectations and whether it was a short-term issue or a potentially thesis-altering problem.
2. Check the progress on the rest of its expansion projects
Elk Creek is just one of several growth projects that ONEOK currently has under construction. Others include the Arbuckle II Pipeline, a fourth NGL processing complex in Texas, and the Demicks Lake I and II natural gas processing plants in North Dakota, all of which it expects to finish by the first quarter of next year. Overall, the company anticipates investing $4.4 billion into these projects, which should drive 20% EBITDA growth in 2020.
Given the importance of this backlog to the company's success next year, investors should ensure that it remains on schedule to complete these projects. If that's not the case, then investors should see if the delay will impact its 2020 growth expectations. As long as it's not anything major, then it shouldn't affect the company's ability to continue increasing its dividend over the next year.
3. See if it added any new growth projects
In addition to that wave of expansions, ONEOK had about $1.85 billion of projects that it expected to finish in the late 2020 to early 2021 timeframe. That includes about $700 million of expansions it added to the backlog in July. Those additions enhanced the company's longer-term growth outlook, which should give it more fuel to keep increasing its dividend beyond next year.
Given that ONEOK needs to continue securing projects so that it can keep growing, investors should see if it added any new ones to its backlog during the quarter. If not, they should look for any hints at what it might have coming down the pipeline. Earlier this year, for example, the company noted that it was evaluating the potential of investing in an NGL export facility. Its success in securing new projects such as that one would give it more fuel so that it can potentially continue increasing its dividend at a fast pace well beyond next year.
Expecting more progress in the third quarter
ONEOK is currently building several expansion projects that will fuel high-octane earnings growth in 2020 and 2021. That should give it more than enough fuel to increase its dividend by at least a 9% annual rate over that timeframe. Ideally, the company will report third-quarter results that keep it on track with that outlook, while also securing new projects that push its growth visibility past the 2021 timeframe. That would make it an even better dividend growth stock to own for the long haul.