The upcoming election season is heating up, but overheated valuations are a bigger concern for investors in utility stocks. With a highly contentious presidential race likely to stoke strong emotions, investors should keep a level head and focus on what can actually change with election results. Above all, remember to bet on probabilities, not your personal politics.
The Master Limited Partnership (MLP) Association hosted its annual investor conference in Orlando last week and, as always, the Energy & Income Advisor team was on the ground to talk to management teams and fellow investors. Here are some of our bigger-picture takeaways from the event.
After plunging almost 50 percent from early May 2015 to mid-February 2016, the Alerian MLP Index has defied the critics and torched slow-to-react short sellers by surging 45 percent since its nadir. But the easy money has been made: Investors must now focus on which names are best-positioned to grow in an environment where energy prices remain lower for longer.
Activity levels and pricing for oil-field services and equipment will likely remain under pressure in the US onshore market this year, with early 2017 bringing a bit of a recovery on both scores. But a return to the levels witnessed during the boom years appears unlikely, especially if Saudi Arabia opts to tap some of its spare capacity to take market share and keep oil prices in check.
This leading provider of sterilization equipment and services boasts a defensive business that generates significant recurring revenue and offers exposure to steadily growing demand from hospitals, surgical centers, pharmaceutical manufacturers and medical-device companies. A recent acquisition promises to fuel top-line growth in the near term and over the long haul.
We remain bullish on exploration and production companies with franchise assets, low production costs, strong balance sheets and high-quality management teams; these names stand to take market share in an environment where energy prices struggle to break out of their trading range. But investors need to buy at the right price.
An extended period of extraordinarily accommodative monetary policy has distorted asset prices, resulting in some curious (and concerning) dislocations. The S&P 500 trades at historically elevated valuations usually seen during periods of robust economic growth, while some of Europe’s strongest sovereign credits sport negative yields.
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