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ONEOK (OKE) Q1 Earnings: What's in Store for the Stock?

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Diversified energy company, ONEOK Inc. (OKE - Free Report) is scheduled to report first-quarter 2016 results on May 3, after the closing bell. Last quarter, the company reported a negative earnings surprise of 2.17%. Let’s see how things are shaping up for this quarter.

Factors to Consider

ONEOK continues to work on its new projects, which are located mainly in the Williston Basin, Permian Basin and other mineral-rich areas, through ONEOK Partners, L.P. , thereby creating opportunity to accelerate growth in long-term fee-based earnings.

The company continues to expect the partnership's natural gas liquids volumes gathered to increase in 2016, primarily from the Williston Basin and the West Texas LPG system. It plans to add nearly 250–350 well connections this year in a bid to bring additional volumes to the system.The Natural Gas Liquids segment is expected to contribute $995 million to operating income and earnings in 2016.

ONEOK’s contract restructuring efforts and controlling operating costs should continue to boost margins.

However, a sharp decline in commodity prices has slowed down drilling plans of ONEOK’s producer customers. As a result, demand for midstream services may not improve as much as expected.

Surprise History

The above chart indicates that ONEOK was able to generate positive earnings surprises in one of the last four quarters. The average negative surprise was 5.86%.

Earnings Whispers

Our proven model does not conclusively show that ONEOK will beat estimates this quarter. That is because a stock needs to have both a positive Earnings ESP and a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), #2 (Buy) or #3 (Hold) for this to happen. But that is not the case here, as you will see below.

Zacks ESP: The Earnings ESP, which represents the difference between the Most Accurate estimate and the Zacks Consensus Estimate, is -4.65%. This is because the Most Accurate Estimate stands at 41 cents, while the Zacks Consensus Estimate is pegged higher at 43 cents.

Zacks Rank: Though ONEOK’s Zacks Rank #3 increases the predictive power of ESP, the company’s negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

Note that we caution against stocks with a Zacks Ranks #4 or #5 (Sell-rated stocks) going into the earnings announcement, especially when the company is seeing negative estimate revisions.

Stocks to Consider

Here are a couple of operators in the oil and gas pipeline space worth considering on the basis of our model, which shows that they have the right combination of elements to post an earnings beat this quarter:

Enable Midstream Partners, LP (ENBL - Free Report) has an Earnings ESP of +21.05% and a Zacks Rank #1. The company is expected to report first-quarter 2016 results on May 4 before the market opens.

Spectra Energy Partners, LP has an Earnings ESP of +2.27% and a Zacks Rank #2. The company is expected to report first-quarter 2016 results on May 4 before the market opens.

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