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3 Refining & Marketing MLP Stocks That Are Worth a Look

In recent quarters, fuel margins for companies in the Zacks Oil and Gas - Refining & Marketing MLP industry have generally declined, falling well below the exceptional profitability achieved in 2022. While robust consumption and light product inventories should continue to support the sector, most operators see a subdued margin environment for the rest of 2024. Additionally, rising costs due to persistent inflation are eroding profits. Nevertheless, the defensive nature of these stocks and their fee-based business models, along with features to mitigate inflationary impacts, still offer some protection in an unpredictable market. For those interested in the space, we have earmarked three stocks — Targa Resources (NYSE: TRGP), Sunoco LP (NYSE: SUN) and NGL Energy Partners LP (NYSE: NGL). Industry Overview Master limited partnerships (or MLPs) differ from regular stocks since interests in them are referred to as units, and unitholders (not shareholders) are partners in the business. Importantly, these low-risk hybrid entities bring together the tax benefits of a limited partnership with the liquidity of publicly traded securities that earn a stable income. The assets owned by these partnerships are typically oil and natural gas pipelines and storage/infrastructure facilities. The Zacks Oil and Gas - Refining & Marketing MLP industry is a sub-sector of this business model. These firms operate refined product terminals, storage facilities and transportation services. They are involved in selling refined petroleum products (including heating oil, gasoline, residual oil, jet fuel, etc.) and a plethora of non-energy materials (like asphalt, road salt, clay and gypsum). 3 Trends Defining Oil and Gas - Refining & Marketing MLP Industry's Future Moderation in Refining Margins: While refining margins remain robust, they have notably softened compared to the exceptional levels of 2022. Crack spreads, which reflect the difference between refined product and crude oil prices, have also decreased. Elevated inventories and demand uncertainties could further dent profitability. Despite price controls and sanctions, Russia's redirection of oil exports to India and China has impeded the expected tightening of product supplies. This trend suggests a recent downturn in global refinery margins, impacting the earnings of downstream firms. Sustainable Cash Flows: In the current volatile oil market, marked by demand fluctuations and geopolitical tensions, investors may find master limited partnerships (MLPs) a prudent choice. MLPs provide attractive returns with significantly reduced risk exposure. Their assets, such as oil and natural gas pipelines and storage facilities, generate stable fee-based revenues ...