CenterPoint to Buy Texas Assets - Analyst Blog

By Zacks | June 20, 2012 AAA

Leading electric and gas utility, CenterPoint Energy Inc. (CNP) announced that its indirect, wholly owned natural gas gathering, processing and treating subsidiary CenterPoint Energy Field Services, LLC, or CEFS, has entered into two agreements to purchase gathering and processing assets located primarily in northeast Texas. The first is an agreement to acquire gathering and processing assets from Prism Gas Systems I, L.P., a wholly owned subsidiary of  Martin Midstream Partners L.P. (MMLP), and certain other gathering and processing assets from Martin Midstream Partners' Natural Gas Services segment for around $275 million, subject to certain adjustments. The assets to be acquired include Prism's 50% interest in Waskom Gas Processing Company.

In another deal, CEFS has entered into a 15-year agreement with Encana Oil & Gas Inc., a subsidiary of Encana Corporation (ECA), to gather and treat its natural gas production from the Amoruso and Hilltop fields located in Robertson and Leon counties in east Texas. In connection with entering into the gathering agreement, which includes volume commitments and acreage dedication, CEFS bought Encana's 139-mile Amoruso gathering systems for approximately $89 million.

CenterPoint Energy, with its balanced portfolio of electric and natural gas businesses, provides a diversified risk profile, along with stable earnings and cash flow. Once again, quarterly earnings were saved by the company's broad and diversified portfolio. Its service territory is spread across six states that protect it from individual state specific risks.

Going forward, our bullish outlook for the company is supported by its strong liquidity position, stable regulated operations, ongoing infrastructure development projects, and a strong balance sheet.

However, these positives are partially offset by pending regulatory cases, including the outcome of the Texas rate case, a tepid economy, lower demand for electricity, declining wholesale natural gas prices and a significant presence in a hurricane-prone section of the U.S.

CenterPoint Energy presently retains a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) that corresponds with our long-term Neutral recommendation on the stock.

 
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