Where Yield-Hungry Investors Can Go

While consumers have been much more relaxed at the gas pumps of late, you’d be hard pressed to find energy/income-oriented investors who share the sentiment. Wherever they turn these days, they see either falling oil and gas prices or troubled energy income trusts. But, there might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

On any given day, you’re likely to find me checking out good commodity stocks, be they, for example, in the oil and gas sector or the precious metals sector. But, I like “brick and mortar” companies even more. What I’m referring to are those companies that provide building blocks or essential services to others on the front lines of drilling and exploration. And, what’s piquing my interest lately are pipeline companies.

Pipeline stocks remind me somewhat of my history teacher. Give him a few minutes of your time, and your lights will go out faster than you can say “1789.” And, until income trusts came about in the 1990s, investing in pipelines produced almost an identical effect. For the most part, such stocks were thought of as the most boring investment choices on the planet.

When income trusts made it to the public capital arena, things got worse for pipelines and other utility stocks. It wasn’t only that they were boring, but, with income trusts in the play, not even “widows and orphans” wanted to invest in such companies. But, when Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pulled the “April Fool’s Day” on Halloween, I’m sure quite a number of CEOs shared a few chuckles.

Not long afterward, investors looking for higher yields, as well as companies in need of hard cash, found themselves trekking along the same road. Canada’s investment banking activities in the sector are already heating up. Enbridge started the party by raising about CDN$523.0 million, and TransCanada Pipelines is getting ready to launch its CDN$3.0 billion debt and equity offering.

The best part is that these usually “sleeping beauties” are far from tired. The need for new and more efficient existing infrastructure is obvious to everyone, including the usual bottlenecks, such as government regulators and environmentalists. Having said that, it is quite possible that, in 2007, the growth curve of pipelines and other utilities could literally take off.

So, there you have it. If you are an investor looking for life after income trusts, high-yield pipeline stocks might be another good idea worth looking into.