Are MLP Valuations Too Rich?

July 23, 2014

This week’s Chart of the Week takes a look at Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”) and their current valuations based on their EBITDA Multiple (calculated by Enterprise Value divided by the 12-month EBITDA). Generally, a higher multiple implies a more expensive valuation. Relative to long-term averages and the S&P 500, MLPs appear expensive today. The elevated valuations, however, are pricing in higher expected rates of growth. These higher growth expectations do not come as a surprise given the recent increase in domestic energy production and expected midstream infrastructure expenditures, which could approach $640 billion between now and 2035.1  Compared to the prior study done in 2011 ($261B), the 2014 estimates represent a 145% increase in infrastructure spending.

Paying a premium for MLPs relative to historical averages may not necessarily be a bad thing assuming that the estimated growth within the energy infrastructure sector comes to fruition. If, however, there is a catalyst in the market such as a rapid increase in interest rates, regulatory change, or an international crisis, MLPs may experience a correction.

1 Interstate Natural Gas Association of America

The opinions expressed herein are those of Marquette Associates, Inc. (“Marquette”), and are subject to change without notice. This material is not financial advice or an offer to purchase or sell any product. Marquette reserves the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

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