Analysts' Concern Over FERC Tax Ruling Remains After Magellan Midstream Earnings

Crude pipeline and storage facility operator Magellan Midstream Partners LP (MMP) reported adjusted earnings Thursday, May 3, of 98 cents per unit that missed analysts' expectations for the first quarter, but the company recorded revenue of $678.8 million, slightly beating consensus estimates. 

Analysts surveyed by FactSet expected the company to report earnings of $1 per unit on revenue of $675.2 million. Adjusting for a one-time pension correction, Magellan said it earned $1.05 per unit for the quarter. 

With earnings and revenue both roughly in line, analysts pointed out that the company's distributable cash flow, or DCF, read relatively poorly. The company reported DCF of $258.9 million, short of analysts' expectations of $261 million. 

Both the earnings and DCF were affected by a one-time $16 million expense related to a cumulative adjustment to correct an error made by the partnership's third-party actuary for pension valuation estimates, dating back to 2010, the company said. 

But Magellan is confident going forward. The company raised its fiscal year 2018 DCF target by $30 million to $1.08 billion, which would be a record year for the company and meet the management team's guidance for a 1.2 distribution coverage ratio. 

Tusla, Okla.-based Magellan Midstream is a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS. TheStreet's Action Alerts Plus team on Thursday said the earnings report was mostly in line with expectations, and the team continues to like Magellan for its strong distributable cash flow generation and growth expectations, solid DCF coverage ration and limited exposure to commodity price swings, as the majority of its operations remain on the fee-based transport side. 

The analysts noted, however, that a recent ruling by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, that revises income tax allowances for fee-based pipeline operators will hinder MLPs' ability to raise and return distributable cash past 2020. 

Analysts will look for more clarity on the potential for this impact to Magellan's business on the company's 1:30 p.m. earnings conference call. Read more from the AAP team on Magellan here

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