The $48 billion leveraged buyout of the former TXU Corp by KKR & Co. LP (NYSE: KKR) and other private-equity outfits set record in 2007. Now, the company's impending bankruptcy underscores the risks of looking for a quick buck in the utility sector.
We’ve yet to see third quarter results for most of the US communications industry. But it’s not too soon to ask what happened to the assertion the Big Two US Telecoms — AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) — would be skewered by rivals’ cut rate pricing and a cheaper iPhone.
The Environmental Protection Agency's ongoing crackdown on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants continues to dominate the headlines. But investors shouldn't overlook the importance of utility-regulator relations at the state and local level.
When the research firm Hedgeye came out with a report blasting a long-time favorite of mine—Kinder Morgan Energy Partners (NYSE: KMP)—my first question was what have they seen that I have not to date? Is there something most of us who research this master limited partnership have overlooked, some critical Achilles heel that could in Hedgeye’s words make Kinder and related companies a “house of cards?”
Similarly, I wondered why Hedgeye had chosen to pick on Kinder, rather than a master limited partnership (MLP) with more obvious troubles such as NuStar Energy (NYSE: NS). The latter, for example, has failed to cover its distribution with distributable cash flow (DCF) for several quarters now, even leaving aside its extremely aggressive capital spending.
Investors shouldn’t automatically assume that dividend-paying equities are inherently safer than tech stocks or other cyclical fare. When an income-oriented stock cuts or eliminates its dividend, investors not only suffer a diminution of income but also a significant loss of principal during the subsequent selloff. Understanding a company’s underlying business and its growth prospects are essential to separating the winners from the losers.
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