NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- These energy stocks hit 52-week highs on Tuesday: Western Gas Partners ( WES), MarkWest Energy ( MWE) and Sempra Energy ( SRE).
Western Gas Partners 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.
Sempra Energy The energy services company reported Tuesday fourth-quarter earnings of $292 million, or $1.21 a share, up from $280 million, or $1.15 a share, a year earlier. "In our view, SRE is more likely to do a high single digit div increase over the next several years and grow into an average yield," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts wrote in a Feb. 14 report. "Some investors may be expecting another larger than normal dividend increase of around 15% in Feb. 2012, which is possible, but the yield would still be below average (3.8%)." Shares of Sempra Energy hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $59. The stock's 52-week low of $44.78 was on Aug. 9. Sempra Energy has a forward P/E of 12; the average for multi-utility companies is 14.44. For comparison, both Duke Energy ( DUK) and Centerpoint Energy ( CNP) have higher forward P/Es of 14.27 and 15.77, respectively. Eight of the 12 analysts who cover Sempra Energy rated it a hold. Three analysts gave it a buy rating and one rated it sell. TheStreet Ratings gives Sempra Energy an A grade with a buy rating and a $66.61 price target.