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Energy Transfer Partners' Shares Get a Bump From a Hedge Fund Buying

By Tyler Crowe - Feb 16, 2016 at 11:54AM

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A recent purchase by Appaloosa Management's David Tepper has improved Mr. Market's perception of Energy Transfer Partners' stock.

What: Shares of Energy Transfer Partners (NYSE: ETP) are up 10% as of 11:30 a.m. EST. While the company's shares have moved up and down pretty wildly so far this year, to the point that a 10% move seems pretty common, it looks as though Tuesday's move comes from hedge fund manager David Tepper announcing he has opened up a stake in Energy Transfer Partners.

So What: According to David Tepper's Appaloosa Managements 13-F filing that was released last Friday, Tepper jumped into shares of Energy Transfer Partners, and moved in big. The $171 million investment was his largest of this past quarter and now makes the pipleine company Appaloosa's ninth largest holding. As you see when major hedge funds make purchases of this size, today seems to suggest there are a lot of copycat investors out there thinking that if a big time hedge fund manager is buying shares, they should too.

With shares down more than 55% over the past year, Energy Transfer Partners is now sporting an absurd distribution yield of 16%. For a company that relies on selling equity to fund acquisitions, this is too high. To make matters even more challenging is the fact the Energy Transfer Partners managing entity, Energy Transfer Equity (ET 0.40%), is in the middle of a high profile acquisition of Williams Companies (WMB 0.26%). The high debt load of Williams, and the higher debt load that Energy Transfer Equity will have once the merger is complete, suggests that the Energy Transfer umbrella of companies is under an unsustainable debt load and the chances of distribution and dividend cuts seem highly likely right now.

Chances are, Tepper is well aware of this situation and is either 1. looking at the numbers and thinking the company can pull it off without a cut, or 2. shares have declined enough that a distribution cut is baked in to the share price already and still makes for a decent investment.

Now What: Based on the stock performance of Energy Transfer as of late, a 10% move in either direction can almost be expected. So don't let Tuesday's price change make a big difference in how you view the bigger picture of the company. Seeing some high profile hedge funds jump into the company as of late may be encouraging, but keep in mind that the company is still under a bit if financial stress right now and some drastic distribution cuts are very much in play. If the appeal of buying Energy Transfer on the cheap is attractive and you are OK with a much lower yield at Tuesday's price, then perhaps it's worth a look.

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Stocks Mentioned

The Williams Companies, Inc. Stock Quote
The Williams Companies, Inc.
WMB
$31.29 (0.26%) $0.08
Energy Transfer LP Stock Quote
Energy Transfer LP
ET
$10.02 (0.40%) $0.04

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