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Master limited partnership (MLP) Ferrellgas Partners L.P. (FGP - Analyst Report) marches ahead with its strategy of acquiring new businesses that complement its portfolio. The partnership, yesterday, announced the signing of a deal to acquire Williams Panhandle Propane, a Florida-based independent propane retailer. Williams Panhandle Propane mainly has units located in Tallahassee and Carrabelle, Florida.  

The acquisition opens new market areas for Ferrellgas. The acquisition is a strategic fit for Ferrellgas Partners as the partnership strives to buy assets in the vicinity of its existing operations thereby expanding its market base. This is the partnership's fifth consecutive acquisition since the start of its fiscal year, which began on August 1, 2010.

Through the acquisition of Williams Panhandle the partnership has significantly and strategically expanded in Florida's growing state capital, as well as along its Gulf coast. This acquisition also exposes the partnership to an attractive market that complements its existing Ferrellgas operations.

The partnership follows a growth-by-acquisition strategy and has made as many as 225 acquisitions in over 70 years to transform itself from a single-location, independently owned propane retailer to one of the largest propane retailers in the United States.

Ferrellgas is scheduled to release its fourth quarter 2011 earnings results on September 26, 2011. Currently, the Zacks Consensus Estimates for the fourth quarter of fiscal 2011, fiscal 2011 and fiscal 2012 are a loss of 41 cents, a loss of 41 cents and a loss of 80 cents per unit, respectively.

Overland Park, Kansas-based Ferrellgas Partners L.P. is a leading distributor of propane and equipment in the U.S. The partnership provides propane services to Residential, Industrial, Portable Tank Exchange, Agricultural and Wholesale customers. The major competitors of the partnership are AmeriGas Partners L.P. (APU - Snapshot Report), Energy Transfer Partners L.P. (ETP - Analyst Report) and Suburban Propane Partners L.P. (SPH - Snapshot Report).

Ferrellgas Partners retains a Zacks #5 Rank (short-term Hold rating), which also supports our long term ‘Underperform” rating on the stock.

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