NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- ONEOK (OKE) is a little-known energy company that has been growing its dividends per share at an average annual rate of 17% since 2006, and it might just continue going this way.
In a research report emailed to TheStreet, Ted Durbin, analyst at Goldman Sachs predicted the company's dividends are expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17% between 2014 and 2017. This is higher than the average growth rate of 15.6% of about a dozen midstream corporations covered by Goldman Sachs such as Enbridge (ENB) , Kinder Morgan(KMI) , Spectra Energy (SE) and TransCanada (TRP) in the corresponding period.
Unlike most of the other energy companies, ONEOK, a C-Corporation, is a pure-play general partner of ONEOK Partners (OKS) , which is a master limited partnership engaged in processing and transportation of natural gas and owns one of the leading natural gas liquids systems in the U.S.
ONEOK provides all the resources required for growth to ONEOK Partners, which does the heavy lifting. In return, the corporation gets an increasing percentage of distributions from the partnership which fuels the growth of ONEOK's dividends.
According to ONEOK's estimates, the C-corporation gets two-thirds of every incremental adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization dollars generated by the partnership. Moreover, ONEOK Partner's earnings per unit could gradually grow from $2.26 last year to $3.25 by 2018, according to Durbin.
For its growth, the partnership has been investing billions to expand its natural gas processing capacity, particularly in the Williston and Powder River Basins in North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. On Monday, ONEOK Partners said that it would invest between $480 million and $680 million to build two natural gas processing plants in these regions with a combined capacity of 180 million cubic feet per day.
So far this year, ONEOK Partners announced between $1.5 billion and $1.9 billion of new projects, of which between $995 million and $1.35 billion will be spent on Williston and Powder River Basins projects, the company's spokeswoman Stephanie Higgins said in an email toTheStreet.
The new projects are a part of ONEOK's larger $7.5 billion to $8.2 billion capital growth program planned through 2016 aimed at expanding the partnership's natural gas processing footprint, of which it has already completed around more than $4 billion of projects. Overall, since 2010, the partnership has announced 11 new natural gas processing plants and other related assets of which eight are located in the Williston Basin. In this region, the partnership aims to increase its natural gas processing capacity by more than 11 times by 2016 as compared to 2010.
Higgins identified five major projects "that are nearing completion or that have been announced" which would drive the partnership's growth in the next couple of years from its core regions. These include Lonesome Creek and Demicks Lake facilities, each representing capacity of 200 million cubic feet per day, and are "our largest Williston Basin plants in terms of capacity," she said. The former is scheduled to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2015 while the latter is slated to come online by the third quarter of 2016. The two plants and other related facilities have come with a price tag of more than $1 billion.
Besides these, ONEOK is also developing new natural gas processing plants, pipelines and other infrastructure assets in its core, as well as non-core regions, such as a major natural gas processing plant due to be completed by the end of 2016 in Oklahoma.
Jeremy Tonet, analyst at JP Morgan said in a research report emailed to TheStreet that the partnership's new projects have enhanced its long-term growth visibility. Moreover, ONEOK Partners has "ample liquidity" of around $2 billion to fund most of the announced growth projects.
For the year to date, ONEOK's shares are up 1% with a yield of 3.7% while the partnership's units have climbed 4.6%, offering a yield of 5.5%. JP Morgan has an overweight rating on the company and is neutral on the master limited partnership while Goldman Sachs is neutral on both.
At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.