3 Top MLPs to Buy For High Dividend Yields

We believe that investors searching for income consider owning master limited partnerships, or MLPs. These stocks typically provide very high yields, often in the high single- to low double-digit range.

Of course, high yields often come with high risk, so investors need to identify high-quality MLPs that are likely to continue to at least maintain, if not raise, their distribution.

Three of our top high-yield MLPs that we believe will continue to pay high yields to shareholders include:

  • Enterprise Products Partners (NYSE:EPD)
  • KNOT Offshore Partners (NYSE:KNOP)
  • Magellan Midstream Partners (NYSE:MMP)

Enterprise Products Partners (EPD)

Our first name for consideration is Enterprise Products Partners, one of the largest MLPs in the industry. The $54.5 billion partnership generates annual revenue of close to $41 billion.

Enterprise Products Partners stores and transports oil and gas through its massive pipeline system. In total, the partnership has nearly 50,000 miles of pipeline that transport natural gas, natural gas liquids, crude oil, and refined products. Enterprise Products Partners has storage facilities that can hold more than 250 million barrels.

The partnership’s extensive network of pipeline grants it a diversity of asset and geographic reach. Enterprise Products Partners is also able to pivot its pipeline system to move whatever energy product it wishes. This gives Enterprise Products Partners an asset base that few other in the industry can match. It would be cost prohibitive and maybe even politically impossible for another partnership to try to replicate what the partnership has created.

Enterprise Products Partners’ collects fees on the materials that it transports and stores, making the partnership a toll road for those wishing to move energy products. This helps to insulate the business from the ups and downs of the energy price cycle.

Enterprise Products Partners is also well positioned to take advantage of the growing demand for liquefied natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas. The partnership has a number of terminals that will aid the business as the U.S. exports grow in size over the next few years.

A credit rating of BBB+ and Baa1 from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, respectively, means that the partnership has a better balance sheet than the vast majority of MLPs.

The business is been very successful over the years, which has allowed Enterprise Products Partners to raise its dividend for 23 consecutive years. This includes a 3.3% increase for the February 11th, 2022 payment. Enterprise Products Partners differs from most other companies in that it often raises its dividend every quarter, except for 2021, where the dividend was held constant all four payments. Using the new annualized dividend, distributions have a CAGR of more than 4% over the last decade.

Shares yield 7.4%, more than five times the average yield of the S&P 500 Index. The dividend also looks to be in very sound ground, as Enterprise Products Partners has an average distributable cash flow per unit payout ratio of 57% over the last decade. Combining this reasonable payout ratio with a distribution coverage ratio of more than 1.6x, Enterprise Products Partners is poised to continue to raise its already generous dividend.

KNOT Offshore Partners (KNOP)

Our next pick of MLPs is KNOT Offshore Partners, which owns and operates shuttle tankers in the North Sea and Brazil. The partnership has a market capitalization of $525 million and revenue of $279 million last year.

Knutsen NYK Offshore tankers AS, which is the sponsor for the partnership, has the responsibility of finding, purchasing, and dropping down of ships to KNOT Offshore Partners. As a result, the business is extremely efficient and has just one employee, its CEO.

The partnership provides loading, transportation, and storage of crude oil under time charters and bareboat charters. Currently, there are seventeen shuttle tankers in service, most of which has long-term and fixed contracts that must be paid regardless of the price of energy. KNOT Offshore Partners’ shuttle tankers have an average age of just under 8 years, which means that the partnership could see several decades of use from its present fleet.

Due to its business model, KNOT Offshore Partners hasn’t seen the fluctuations in distributable cash flow per unit that many of its peers have experienced. This is due to its contractual agreements and its ability to see higher rental rates when the price of energy is higher. This pattern is likely to continue as the sponsor could drop down as many as three new shuttle tankers through the end of the year.

At the time of its most recent quarterly report, KNOT Offshore Partners had a utilization rate of 91.9%. This was below the prior year’s result, but this was due mostly to the timing of a charter contract and mechanical issues with another shuttle.

KNOT Offshore Partners has maintained the same quarterly distribution of $0.52 per share since the November 13th, 2015 payment. The expected coverage ratio for last year is just 1.2, lower than it has been in recent years. The expected distributable cash flow payout ratio is also higher than normal at 84% for 2021. Historically, the payout ratio has been near 70%. Therefore, we do not anticipate that the partnership will raise its dividend in the near future. The tradeoff to this lack of growth is that shareholders are receiving a 13.4% yield today.

Even with a high payout ratio and lack of dividend growth, we remain confident that KNOT Offshore Partners will be able to continue making its payments to shareholders. The business model has proven successful at navigating other difficult operating environments and will energy prices surging, KNOT Offshore Partners is expected continuing to see high demand for shuttle tankers.

Magellan Midstream Partners (MMP)

Our final pick among MLPs is Magellan Midstream Partners, which operates a vast pipeline network. The partnership is valued at $10.4 billion and has annual revenue of $2.8 billion.

Like Enterprise Products Partners, Magellan Midstream Partners operates one of the longest pipeline systems of refined products in the country. The partnership operates 9,800 miles of pipeline and 54 terminals used in the transportation of refined products. Two storage facilities can hold 18 million barrels of product as well. The partnership also has 2,200 miles of crude oil pipeline and can store 37 million barrels. Magellan Midstream Partners connects to nearly half of the refining capacity in the U.S., giving it a size and scale that few, if any, are able to compete with.

Given the breadth of Magellan Midstream Partners’ pipeline and storage network, the partnership is able to offer customers connection between refineries and gas stations and railroads throughout much of the country. As a result, Magellan Midstream Partners’ contracts often include inflation adjusted increases in fees, which is almost certainly benefiting the partnership given the rise in inflation.

Magellan Midstream Partners has a fee-based model. Less than 10% of operating income is sensitive to energy prices, helping to insulate the partnership against downturns in the market. This could limit some upside potential, but this business model offers some stability in an industry where stability is rare.

Magellan Midstream Partners had raised its dividend 70 consecutive quarters prior to freezing it due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The partnership last raised its dividend 1% for the November 12th, 2021 payment date. The payout ratio is expected to be 80% for 2021, in-line with the average of the last five years. Leadership also has a coverage ratio target of at least 1.2. Our expected coverage ratio for 2022 of 1.25 is ahead of this target.  Shares of the partnership yield 8.5%.

Final Thoughts

Investors searching for sources of high yields that are secure don’t often have too many options to choose from. Enterprise Products Partners, KNOT Offshore Partners, and Magellan Midstream Partners are three names we believe can continue to offer investors generous yields that appear safe from a dividend cut.

Each of these MLPs has competitive advantages that help separate it from the rest of the industry, leading to the generous yields that each offers. Each partnership also has sufficient coverage that a dividend cut does not appear to be imminent.

This suggests that investors looking for safe and high yields consider adding Enterprise Products Partners, KNOT Offshore Partners, or Magellan Midstream Partners to their portfolio.

On the date of publication, Bob Ciura did not have (either directly or indirectly) positions in any of the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

Bob Ciura has worked at Sure Dividend since 2016. He oversees all content for Sure Dividend and its partner sites. Prior to joining Sure Dividend, Bob was an independent equity analyst. His articles have been published on major financial websites such as The Motley Fool, Seeking Alpha, Business Insider and more. Bob received a bachelor’s degree in Finance from DePaul University and an MBA with a concentration in investments from the University of Notre Dame.

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