The energy sector has delivered incredible returns for investors so far this year. The Energy Select SPDR ETF (NYSEMKT:XLE) is up 32% in total returns, almost double the 18% for the S&P 500 index over the same period as rising demand for oil and gas push energy prices -- and oil stock profits -- steadily higher.
Yet at the same time, the future of energy is still heavily pointed toward renewables, and investors who consider both the near-term and long-term implications, can find a handful of top energy stocks you can buy to benefit from today's surging demand for all things energy, while still being positioned for profits in the low-carbon future. Three top energy stocks that look very compelling today include wind turbine blade supplier TPI Composites (NASDAQ:TPIC), integrated energy giant Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX), and infrastructure operator Brookfield Infrastructure (NYSE:BIP)(NYSE:BIPC).
Chances are, there's something compelling that makes at least one a good fit for investors of all kinds. If you're looking to add a top energy stock to your portfolio this month, keep reading to learn which of these three might be the perfect, timely energy stock buy for you.
Messed up expectations creating a great buying opportunity
Over the past few years, TPI Composites has spent a lot of money building out capacity. The company, which primarily manufactures wind turbine blades for leading wind energy companies, was predicting that this new capacity would start paying off this year.
However, that's not looking likely to be the case, after management trimmed its full-year guidance in late July. As a result, TPI shares are down more than 50% from the high reached in January, and management is now cautioning that sales could be flat through 2022 as well. But I think the market's reaction might be short sighted, at least for investors willing to think bigger picture, and looking to take advantage of this sell-off. Eventually, demand for its new capacity should pay off.
In the interim, the company generates solid operating cash flow, so it should have little trouble continuing to fund its business during the current soft period in the cycle. Whether management continues tapping the debt markets to fund capital expansion remains to be seen.
Let's be clear: This isn't a value play. Shares are still more expensive than almost any time in the company's history prior to late 2020:
It's a turnaround play with plenty of growth prospects on the other side. If management can stay focused on a healthy balance sheet and getting to the next growth phase in the wind cycle, investors who buy today should be very happy they did.
Returning to profits today, building a sustainable business for tomorrow
The past year has been pretty brutal for Phillips 66. The company makes most of its money refining and selling refined products like gasoline and diesel, and last year's collapse cost it $4 billion in losses.
Yet when it reported second quarter results on August 3, the strength of its business really showed up on the bottom line with $296 million in net income after losing $141 million last year. Cash flow is starting to surge, too. Operating cash flow was $2 billion in the first half of 2021 -- $1.7 billion of that in the second quarter alone -- more than double last year's first-half result.
One thing that really stood out is that those profits came even with the refining segment still losing money. Refining operations reported a pre-tax loss of $729 million, but a big surge in profits from marketing and specialties -- fuel and refined products sales -- along with record profits from petrochemical manufacturing, helped offset the continued losses in refining. Looking ahead, it's likely the losses in refining are mostly over. Demand for fuel is surging, and Phillips 66's cash cow is likely to start producing once again.
What about the low-carbon future? Phillips 66 is making serious inroads there, too, having already converted one refinery to produce renewable diesel, and now doing the same with its Rodeo refinery in Northern California. Moreover, the company's significant natural gas pipeline and storage facility, along with its huge petrochemical manufacturing operations, are already set up to handle renewable natural gas. As more supply of this product, which is captured from human and agricultural waste, becomes available, Phillips 66's existing infrastructure will play an important role in the transition away from fossil fuels.
Investors who buy now can capture a heady 4.7% dividend yield that's likely to move higher. In the earnings release, CEO Greg Garland said, "We anticipate return to dividend growth as cash flow recovers." That high yield will make it a lot easier to hold the stock while the company transitions away from oil and to more and more renewables over time.
Brookfield keeps buying pipelines, and its cash flows keep going higher
While this isn't a pure play on energy, Brookfield Infrastructure makes the cut as a top stock with growing energy exposure that investors should buy now. That's because, over the past few years, management has made a clear decision that some of the best capital allocation opportunities out there are in the energy logistics space.
Specifically, oil and gas pipelines, storage terminals, and processing facilities, have been on the shopping list. Its latest deal, to acquire Inter Pipeline (TSX:IPL), is the most recent, and is expected to add almost $400 million in annualized adjusted EBITDA to Brookfield Infrastructure's bottom line.
Here's just how much management's focus on this segment has paid off. In the first quarter, Brookfield Infrastructure's midstream segment reported an 89% increase in funds from operations, by far the highest growth of any part of its business.
Lastly, Brookfield Infrastructure is a diversified business, giving investors exposure to telecommunications, transportation, and utilities infrastructure assets on multiple continents. The nature of its business also results in steady cash flows, making its 3%-plus dividend yield very secure.
If you're looking for some exposure to energy, but prefer a diversified business with lots of ways management can invest capital to grow, the Brookfield Infrastructure might be the right stock to buy now.