The Best Play I’ve Seen For The U.S. Energy Renaissance

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014 - 5:45pm

by John Morgan

Some experts argue that history never repeats itself exactly -- there is always some twist to even familiar events that make them different from what occurred in the past.

Take U.S. oil production, for instance.

As recently as the early 1970s, before OPEC rose to prominence and easy-to-tap domestic oil reserves were still abundant, American energy production was the envy of the world. It cost $0.36 a gallon to fill up a gas-guzzling full-size Buick in 1971, and oil patch buccaneers from Texas to California were exporting oceans of crude oil.

America is unlikely to return to those gas prices or gas-guzzling autos, but energy production and exports appear to be headed for a deja-vu renaissance.

By now, most everyone has heard of the fracking revolution that is reviving the U.S. energy industry and returning the United States to its historic role as the world’s largest energy producer.

That renewed volume of oil and gas is good for America. It will be especially good for those companies that transport, store and distribute the new energy wealth -- more of the stuff will be moving to market than it has in decades, while global demand is more voracious than ever before.

One company right in the middle of all of that energy commerce is Oiltanking Partners, LP (NYSE: OILT), a master limited partnership (MLP) that provides integrated terminaling, storage, pipeline and related services for energy producers. In short, the company handles many of the chores and functions related to getting energy to market.

MLPs can be superb investments because they combine the tax benefits of a limited partnership and the liquidity of a publicly traded company, while paying cash distributions to investors.

Oiltanking’s clients are companies engaged in the production, distribution and marketing of crude oil, refined petroleum products and liquefied petroleum gas and include a who’s who of integrated oil managers and chemical firms.

OILT is boosting its assets at a rapid pace along the Gulf Coast, ranging from pipeline capacity to storage facilities, and is actively positioning itself for a burst of energy exports. The Gulf Coast is where many of the nation’s oil refineries are located.

The company looks especially strong when compared against industry averages.

Earnings per share grew 45.41% for the trailing twelve months (TTM) versus the industry average of 38.06%. Revenues have grown 55.16% in the TTM. The industry average is only 10.52%. And operating margins are 60.76%, while the industry average is 8.44%.

Analysts tend to like Oiltanking -- a lot. The company has a mean buy recommendation from 13 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters. It is also included in the Barron’s 400 Index, a measure of U.S. companies with superior fundamentals and growth prospects.

But Oiltanking is not resting on its laurels by any means.

A new third-party pipeline is under construction. It’s capable of carrying up to 200,000 barrels of shale oil per day to Oiltanking’s Houston, Texas terminal facilities, and is expected to be completed in 2016.

During the company’s August earnings call, CEO Kenneth Owen confirmed Oiltanking will likely participate as a partner in a new ethane export facility in Texas with a loading rate of 240,000 barrels per day. Ethane is a form of liquid natural gas sought by the petrochemical industry.

Risks To Consider: MLPs are interest-rate-sensitive because investors are looking for cash distributions. A backup in rates could impact shareholder demand. However, Oiltanking is benefitting from such fast growth in assets that it should be able to continue raising its distributions.

Action to Take--> Buy OILT common shares. The company is situated at the junction of a renaissance in U.S. energy production and of renewed hopes that oil & gas exports will match their mid-20th century heyday.

P.S.-- My colleague Dave Forrest also recommended Oiltanking Partners back in January. If you bought the stock when he recommended it, you would be up more than 50% today. That’s the beauty of Dave’s premium newsletter, Junior Resource Advisor. He finds the best energy and resource investments months before anyone else. To see what he recommended this month, click here

John Morgan does not personally hold positions in any securities mentioned in this article.
StreetAuthority LLC owns shares of OILT in one or more of its “real money” portfolios.