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Energy Transfer Equity, L.P. (ETE - Snapshot Report) announced that its board of directors has approved of a 2 cent increase on a pre-split basis (1 cent per common unit on a post-split basis) in its quarterly cash distribution rate. The new post split distribution rate of 34.625 cents per unit will be effective from the fourth quarter of 2013 and is scheduled to be paid on Feb 19, 2014, to unitholders of record as of Feb 7, 2014.

The current 3.9% increase in the quarterly distribution rate marked the fifth consecutive increase in the partnership’s quarterly cash distribution.

The annualized cash distribution rate of the partnership comes to $1.385 per unit, taking into consideration the two-for-one split of its outstanding common units. Post split the total outstanding common units will approximate 560 million units.

Recently, the partnership has taken a number of initiatives for creating value for its unitholders. The board of directors of Energy Transfer Equity not only authorized a stock split but also approved a $1 billion buyback program for its common units, effective immediately.

We believe that the increase in natural gas and natural gas liquids usage in the U.S. will create more demand for pipeline and allied services. Energy Transfer Equity with its pipeline, natural gas processing plants and natural gas storage facilities stands to benefit from these favorable market dynamics.

Apart from Energy Transfer Equity, a few other pipeline operators have also increased their quarterly distribution rates. Plains All American Pipeline LP (PAA - Analyst Report) increased its quarterly cash distribution to 61.50 cents per unit, reflecting an annual hike of 9.3%. ONEOK Partners L.P. (OKS - Analyst Report) increased its quarterly cash distribution to 73 cents per unit, reflecting an annual hike of 0.7%.

Energy Transfer Equity currently has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). A well-placed pipeline operator is Enbridge Energy Management LLC (EEQ - Snapshot Report), with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

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