3 Energy Stocks Hit 52-Week Highs: WES, MWE, SRE

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.

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MarkWest Energy

The natural gas company is scheduled to report fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday after the market closes. Analysts, on average, anticipate profit of 49 cents a share on revenue of $403.7 million.

"We are raising our 2012E DCF by another $44mm to $574mm, well above MWE's most recent guidance ($480-$540mm) that was issued with MWE proposed JV buyout of EMG in the Marcellus Shale," Morgan Keegan analysts wrote in a Feb. 3 report.

Shares of MarkWest Energy hit a 52-week high on Tuesday of $60.73. The stock's 52-week low of $39 was set on Aug. 8.

MarkWest Energy has a forward P/E of 21.64; the average for pipeline companies is 70.94. For comparison, Kinder Morgan Energy ( KMP) has a higher forward P/E of 34.02.

All nine of the analysts covering MarkWest Energy rated it a buy.

MarkWest Energy gets an A+ grade from TheStreet Ratings with a buy rating and a $77.40 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.

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-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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