The shares of Energy Transfer Equity (ETE) are plunging after the company disclosed, via a regulatory filing after Friday's close, that it was making a change to the Chief Financial Officer of its general partner. Meanwhile, the shares of the Master Limited Partnership, or MLP, and a number of peers were downgraded by research firm Robert W. Baird. Master Limited Partnerships are publicly traded partnerships that receive tax benefits and often own oil assets.
WHAT'S NEW: Energy Transfer Equity announced that its CFO, Jamie Welch, would step down from the post. According to the company, Welch's departure was not caused by any disagreements between him and the MLP over accounting issues or financial matters. Welch will be replaced by Thomas Long, who is currently CFO of Energy Transfer Partners, L.L.C., which owns the general partner of Energy Transfer Partners, L.P. (ETP) , another MLP.
STREET RESEARCH: This morning, Baird analyst Ethan Bellamy downgraded nine MLP stocks, including both Energy Transfer names. The analyst said he would remain bearish on the sector until oil prices and high yield bottom. Bellamy expects the sector to be pressured by a number of related factors, including the bankruptcy of exploration and production companies, fund outflows, and macro economic conditions. In addition to ETE and ETP, the analyst downgraded EnLink Midstream (ENLC - Get Report) , ONEOK Partners (OKS) , Plains All American (PAA - Get Report) and Plains GP Holdings (PAGP - Get Report) to Underperform and cut Antero Midstream (AM) , ONEOK (OKE - Get Report) and Tallgrass Energy GP (TEGP) to Neutral. Addressing the departure of Energy Transfer Equity's CFO, Wells Fargo said it does not think that the CFO's departure indicates any change to the MLP's pending merger with The Williams Company (WMB - Get Report) . The firm added that it has no knowledge of any accounting issues that prompted the CFO to leave. It continues to believe that Energy Transfer Equity will rise over the longer term and it kept an Outperform rating on that stock. It maintained a Market Perform rating on Williams.
PRICE ACTION: In early trading, Energy Transfer Equity sank 26% to $5.20, Williams tumbled 24% to $13.03, Oneok dropped 13.5% to $22.10, Plains All American retreated 9.8% to $18.46 and Tallgrass sank 20% to $11.59.
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