Data as of July 31, 2018 unless otherwise noted
Performance (total returns)
|Alerian MLP Index (AMZX)||6.58%||5.91%|
|Alerian Midstream Energy Select Index (AMEIX)||3.70%||1.41%|
|ICE BofAML U.S. High Yield Energy Index (HY Energy)||1.00%||2.40%|
|S&P 500 Energy Index (S&P Energy)||1.42%||8.23%|
Performance data quoted represents past performance and is no guarantee of future results. An investment cannot be made directly in an index.
Midstream continues rally as oil plateaus: After declining in June, MLPs rallied in July as the AMZX returned 6.58%. July continued a positive run for the energy sector in general, as the AMEIX, HY Energy and S&P Energy indices each notched their fourth consecutive monthly gains. Crude oil prices fell from a multiyear high at the end of last month to $68.76/bbl as uncertainties have arisen in the commodity market. On the supply side, it is still unclear how much OPEC will be able and willing to ramp crude production, while on the consumption side, risks include the possibility that trade tensions between the world’s largest energy consumers, the U.S. and China, could dampen demand. Energy infrastructure continued to perform well due to positive underlying fundamentals, including both growing commodity production and the potential for pipeline capacity constraints in the U.S.
FERC clarification adds kindling to midstream fire: Back in March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released initial guidance that it would no longer allow interstate oil and gas MLPs to claim an income tax allowance (ITA) in the rates they charge on certain pipelines. Most worrisome, the new rule would have potentially decreased the amount some MLPs could charge by barring them from “adding back” income taxes to their rates. In July, the market positively received final guidance from FERC on the issue, which appears to reduce the potential negative impact to MLPs. However, there are still several uncertainties as to how FERC will interpret the rule going forward, which warrants additional monitoring. At a minimum, the revised ruling paints a more accommodating picture for MLPs than did the March guidance, and it certainly was a factor in MLP outperformance in July. Against that favorable backdrop, trends such as improved commodity pricing, infrastructure constraints in many basins and more potential shareholder-friendly simplification transactions each also point to potentially improving midstream fundamentals going forward.1,2
- Despite a moderate decline in oil prices, July was another positive month across the energy sector.
- Midstream equities were the top performers for the month, with MLPs in particular rallying.
- A revised regulatory ruling from FERC contributed to a positive backdrop for the midstream sector.