Another revenue stabilizer is that the prices charged by long-haul pipeline operators are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
That said, some investors are worried that the realization of President Barack Obama's latest tax proposals -- some of which is seen as unfriendly towards energy companies -- will hurt the MLPs' tax advantage.
"Will there be a fundamental reform in the tax code?" asks Cunnane. "If there were, that's where I think MLPs would be exposed to a change. When does it become more likely? Maybe in a scenario where the house, senate and presidency are all held by same party."
"They wouldn't be singled out in the change," he continued."I think the odds of MLPs being impacted by tax change are extremely minimal over the next year. But there are rising odds as you pass that period -- especially if we end up in a scenario where one party controls all. In a fundamental reform, I think there would be some concern." In the meantime though, Spears of Swank Capital thinks that Blueknight Energy Partners (BKEP) and EV Energy Partners (EVEP) are among the MLPs with big growth prospects. Check out TheStreet's quote page for Blueknight Energy for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more. Blueknight Energy, which focuses on crude oil transport and storage and has significant assets in Cushing, Okla. and West Texas, just posted a very strong fourth-quarter profit as well as robust earnings in the previous two quarters; has completed a highly complicated restructuring stemming from difficulties at its former parent SemGroup; and is benefiting from robust domestic crude production and an increased need for crude and crude product storage and terminaling. "I believe it's on a path towards growth," says Spears. On EV Energy Partners, Spears says that the company has a "very strong management team" that's been able to deliver on expectations. "Its Utica play is a new play and the prospects look very promising." The MLP, says Spears, is also in a very good hedged position, limiting its exposure to price risks. The company has hedged out its commodity prices far into the future and 74% of its oil and gas cash flow and production are hedged out this year. Blueknight has a forward annual dividend yield of 6.5%, while EV Energy's is 4.4%. Wall Street is very bullish on the EV Energy Partners with all eight analysts covering the stock at either strong buy (6) or buy (2), and the 12-month median price target sitting at $93.50, implying potential upside of more than 30% from current levels. But Wall Street is more cautious on Blueknight Energy Partners, with one analyst covering Blueknight having a hold recommendation and the other having an underperform view. The 12-month median price target sits at $7 vs. Wednesday's close at $6.41. Check out TheStreet's quote page for EV Energy for year-to-date share performance, analyst ratings, earnings estimates and much more.
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