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Plains All American (PAA): Margins Hit by Regulatory Risks

PAA CNX NBL OXY

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On Nov 11, 2016, we issued an updated research report on Plains All American Pipeline, L.P. (PAA - Free Report) . The partnership is subject to various state regulations, which could increase its operating costs substantially. Moreover, intense competition in the midstream space continues to pose a threat. Nevertheless, Plains All American’s systematic capital investment strategy to expand operations via acquisitions will allow it to serve its customers more efficiently.

Recently, Plains All American reported third-quarter 2016 adjusted earnings of 40 cents per unit, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 31 cents by 29%. Quarterly earnings also surged 66.7% from the year-ago tally of 24 cents. Moreover, the partnership reported total revenue of $5,170 million, which beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $5,091 million by 1.6%.

Plains All American’s operations are subject to extensive federal, state and local regulations governing transportation and processing of materials, and protection of the environment. Government organizations have already passed numerous laws for safeguarding the environment and ensuring operational safety. While the execution of these regulations materially increased the partnership’s operating costs, violating them would expose it to the risk of administrative, civil and criminal penalties.

Meanwhile, companies like Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY - Free Report) , CONSOL Energy Inc. (CNX - Free Report) and Noble Energy Inc. (NBL - Free Report) are currently entering the midstream business by forming MLPs and upgrading infrastructure. If this trend persists, midstream players will be up against tough competition as they generate revenues from exploration and production companies by providing transportation services.

On the bright side, Plains All American maintains a systematic capital investment strategy to expand its operations through organic growth initiatives. The partnership has a deep pipeline of new projects in the resource-rich regions. This year, investments will be directed toward the completion of the Red River and Caddo pipeline systems, and other pipelines that are expected to begin commercial operations next year.

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Plains All American carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

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