I'm a sucker for a good, boring business that I can buy and mostly forget about for years at a stretch. That's pretty much the gig at limited partnership Penn Virginia
Business in the second quarter was quite solid. Overall operating income more than doubled from the year-ago level, and net income grew at a generally similar rate. Turning to a very important metric, distributable cash flow, Penn Virginia posted 74% growth for the quarter.
The company announced an increase in the quarterly distribution, largely the result of this higher distributable cash flow. The payment is moving up 5% sequentially to $0.65 per unit. That level of payout is 20% higher than the year-ago level.
The underlying businesses continue to perform well. Operating income from coal was up 70% on a 15% rise in royalty revenue. Royalties per ton climbed 26%, though production fell. The 7.3 million tons of coal produced was below the year-ago level of 7.9 million, though up 9% sequentially. Production was hampered by logistical issues involving property lines, but production should increase next quarter.
The midstream gas business chipped in 20% of this quarter's operating income. Management is still fine-tuning this business, but I expect that it should continue to be a worthwhile contributor to distributable cash flow.
Clearly, Penn Virginia management isn't just sitting on its assets and harvesting them for cash. The company recently added more than 100 million tons of coal reserves in Kentucky. It would seem to have future plans for expanding and enhancing the midstream business, as well. I'd personally like to see the company add some reserves in the Powder River Basin area, but these aren't exactly the best times to be looking to buy coal assets (at least if you're looking for bargains).
If you're a regular reader of my pieces on coal (and if you're not, you should be!), you know I expect at least a few more years of respectable pricing. That should mean solid ongoing payouts from the partnership. Even down the road a bit, when coal prices ease back, I believe this will continue to be a solid partnership worth owning.
Just the hard, coal facts:
Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that m eans he's neither long nor short the shares).