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The midstream energy company reported Monday fourth-quarter earnings of $34.4 million, or 35 cents a unit, up from year-ago earnings of $33.6 million, or 48 cents.
"We view WES as a low-risk and reliable growth story," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a report on Monday. "While the stock trades at 18.7x 2012e P/CF (vs. peer group at 14.7x), we believe a premium is warranted for a best-in-class MLP with a visible and sustainable top-tier distribution growth outlook."
Shares of Western Gas Partners hit a 52-week high Tuesday of $46. The stock's 52-week low of $30.75 was set on Aug. 5.
Western Gas Partners has an estimated price-to-earnings ratio for next year of 22.45; the average for exploration and production companies is 42.79. For comparison,
Tesoro(TSO) has a lower forward P/E of 7.26;
Sunoco's(SUN) forward P/E is 24.26.
Ten of the 12 analysts who cover Western Gas Partners rated it a buy; two analysts gave it a hold rating.
TheStreet Ratings gives Western Gas Partners an A+ grade with a buy rating and a
$57.14 price target.