Brookfield Infrastructure Partners L.P. (NYSE:BIP) reported solid third-quarter results before the opening bell this morning. Organic growth projects drove a 6% increase in funds from operations, or FFO, over the previous year, which more than offset some losses from asset sales. Let's take a closer look at what drove these results.
A look at the numbers that matter
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners reported net income of $72 million, or $0.29 per unit. While that was well below the $0.57 per unit that Wall Street was seeking, that's not surprising, because this is simply a number that analysts have a hard time guessing. Furthermore, the more important number for Brookfield is FFO, which came in at $178 million, or $0.85 per unit. That was up from last year's third quarter, when the company delivered FFO of $167 million or $0.80 per unit.
Driving FFO this quarter was the company's transportation unit, which generated FFO of $102 million, 24% higher than last year's third quarter. This increase was driven by the company's Brazilian toll roads as Brookfield doubled its ownership in the asset this past September. The other big drivers this quarter were the partial contribution from the company's new Brazilian rail business, which closed in mid-August, as well as higher volumes being transported on its Australian railroad operations.
The result from Brookfield Infrastructure Partners' utility business was a bit lower than last year, as FFO dropped from $97 million to $93 million. However, these lower results were due to the sale of the company's Australasian regulated distribution business, which closed in the fourth quarter of last year. Adjusting for that sale, results were actually up 17% due to the start-up of the company's Australian terminal and electricity transportation business.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners' final operating segment, energy, was also a bit weaker compared to last year's third quarter. The business generated FFO of $10 million, which is $4 million less than last year. The company's North American gas transmission business was the weak link here as lower gas storage spreads and weak summer demand affected cash flow.
A look at outlook
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners sees its solid cash flow growth continuing. The company's focus next quarter is to complete the integration of its Brazilian rail business into its operating platform. In addition to that, the company has several acquisitions in the pipeline that it intends to close as well as a few organic growth projects it's working to bring online. Once these initiatives are complete, the company sees these new assets generating meaningful cash flow growth in 2015. That sets the company on course to meet its long-term goal of growing FFO by about 10% per year.
Overall, Brookfield Infrastructure Partners delivered a solid quarter. The combination of acquisitions and organic growth projects continues to drive meaningful growth in FFO, which is the key to growing the company's distribution to investors. The bottom line is that Brookfield remains on pace to deliver the steady results we've come to expect from the company.