While the Federal Reserve has been increasing interest rates this year, most investments still offer a relatively unappealing income yield. For example, the dividend yield of the average stock in the S&P 500 is currently around 1.6%. It’s therefore hard for income-focused investors to produce a lot of income from their investments.
However, there are some attractive income stocks out there. Several master limited partnerships (MLPs) offer big-time yields these days. Two that stand out are Crestwood Equity Partners (CEQP -1.78%) and Energy Transfer (ET 1.16%), which currently offer monster yields. On top of that, they have some upcoming catalysts over the next year that could fuel strong price appreciation in the future. Add that to their high yields, and they could produce big-time total returns in the coming years.
A free cash flow gusher is coming
Crestwood Equity Partners currently offers a 9.7% distribution yield. While a payout that high is usually very high risk, that’s not the case with Crestwood’s distribution. That’s evident in the MLP’s recently reported second-quarter results.
The company generated enough cash flow to cover its ultra-high-yield distribution by 1.7 times. That allowed Crestwood to fund its entire capital program with more than $1 million to spare. For the full year, Crestwood expects to cover its distribution and increased capital spending program following some recent acquisitions with $5 million to $45 million left over.
Crestwood believes those investments will pay big dividends next year. The company expects to deliver substantial free cash flow generation in 2023, driven by rising volumes and reduced capital expenses. That should enable the MLP to achieve its long-term leverage target. It should also allow the company to return more cash to investors through continued distribution growth — it boosted its high-yielding payout by 5% earlier this year — and its repurchase program. These catalysts could give Crestwood the fuel to deliver strong total returns in 2023 and beyond.
Energy Transfer currently has a distribution yield above 7%. That payout is on an extremely firm foundation. Energy Transfer covered it with cash flow by a super-comfy 3.36 times in the first quarter, allowing it to retain an extra $1.5 billion in cash. The MLP used those funds to pay off another $290 million in debt, fund $390 million in expansion projects, and acquire some underground storage assets.
This capital allocation strategy has the MLP on track to achieve its leverage target in the coming quarters. That has allowed Energy Transfer to steadily increase its distribution. The company recently gave its investors another 15% raise. That’s the third one this year, bringing the total increase to 50%. Energy Transfer expects to continue increasing its distribution. The MLP’s ultimate goal is to return its payout to its former peak, which is more than 30% above the recently increased level.
Energy Transfer could reach that goal by next year. The company continues to fund its entire capital program with retained cash while paying down additional debt. With its leverage target within reach, the MLP won’t need to keep as much excess income for debt reduction in the future.
In addition to those catalysts, the company is getting closer to approving some potentially needle-moving expansion projects. It’s looking to finally sanction its Lake Charles LNG export terminal project and expand into the chemicals sector. In addition to customer securing contracts to lock in the future cash flows of those investments, Energy Transfer is also seeking financial partners to help fund some of the capital commitment. Success in securing these and other expansion projects could provide the MLP with the fuel to eventually boost its payout well past its former peak. These growth drivers could help drive up its unit price in the coming years.
Get paid well while waiting for these catalysts to unfold
Crestwood Equity Partners and Energy Transfer have some compelling catalysts that could help fuel strong price appreciation in 2023 and beyond. In the meantime, these MLPs pay big-time distributions. That enables investors to get paid well while they wait for these catalysts to come to fruition.
Matthew DiLallo has positions in Crestwood Equity Partners LP and Energy Transfer LP and has the following options: short October 2022 $8 puts on Energy Transfer LP. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.