Enterprise Product Partners
The expanded capacity would cater to the new natural gas processing plants being built in that region. Not surprisingly, this adds to the deal Enterprise recently struck with Anadarko Petroleum
So, what should Fools make of this effort?
Why natural gas?
Following the Japanese nuclear crisis, there is lots of talk around an expected surge in the demand for natural gas. The crisis raised concerns over the safety involved with the use of nuclear power, and coal is not a favored option, since the setting up of a coal plant is costly and there are also various emission related concerns. Considering this, natural gas seems to have emerged as the best and cheapest alternative. With this tailwind, Enterprise may have a few bullish years ahead. These trends are starting to show up in the numbers, too.
This past year, revenues from Enterprise's NGL Pipelines & Services segment grew by nearly 27.32% to $24.4 billion in 2010 from the previous year. Gross operating profits in this segment were $989.9 million. The Rocky Mountain region contributed to $31.6 million to this figure last year. Currently, the MAPL system adds 300,000 barrels per day, and the planned expansion will result in an increase of almost 80,000 barrels per day, a substantial increase which will definitely boost Enterprise's numbers.
As to whether it is able to take on the expansion, Enterprise has been paying off its debts, and is also comfortably positioned to service further debts in the future as its interest coverage ratio indicates. It has gone up to 3.1 from 2.7 a year before. Although its unlevered cash flow has fallen to $163.5 million from $713.7 million (mostly because of these expansion efforts), I think Enterprise is still equipped to take on further expansions through debts.
Moreover, this expansion will help the midstream service providers, creating an efficient link between natural gas producers and consumers as it looks to capitalize on the expected surge in demand for natural gas.
The Foolish bottom line
Enterprise's expansion plans will definitely help boost the company's top and bottom lines, as they look to capitalize on the expected demand for natural gas. I'm bullish about the deal and see Enterprise's profits rising.