An Undervalued High Dividend Stock With Lucrative Cash Secured Puts

by Robert Hauver
We first wrote an earlier article about Northern Tier Energy LP, (NTI), back in early April, when the big question was whether or not this MLP would continue to pay its huge quarterly dividend. This older article also details NTI’s business model, which we like.
In February, NTI paid out a $1.27 dividend, which equated to an 18.55% forward dividend yield, making it one of the highest yielding dividend paying stocks in the market, and putting at the top of the Energy table in our High Dividend Stocks By Sector Tables.
Well, we’re happy to report that, thanks to a big blowout quarter, in which NTI reported an adjusted net income of $108.2 million, that was 20 times its Q1 2012 adjusted net income, NTI is keeping the faith, with another huge distribution, which goes ex-dividend on May 21,2013:
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“The Board of Directors of Northern Tier Energy GP LLC, the general partner of Northern Tier Energy LP, has approved a first quarter distribution of $1.23 per unit that will be paid in cash on May 30, 2013 to common unit holders of record as of the close of business on May 23, 2013.” Cash available for distribution totaled $113.2 million for the first quarter 2013.” (Source: NTI website)

This continuing huge dividend payout raises the same question it did in the 1st quarter of 2013: Will NTI keep making these big quarterly distributions, or will it trim its payouts in the next few quarters?
Fortunately, NTI also has high options yields, which give you some alternatives. We currently have a very attractive September $25.00 put listed for NTI in our Cash Secured Puts Table. This put will pay you $2.60 now, and expires in roughly 4 months, which gives you a 30%-plus annualized yield.
To put this into perspective, even if NTI matches its current $1.23/unit May payout in the next quarterly payout, in August, you’d receive $2.46 in distributions, (possibly), vs. $2.60, for sure, right now, by selling the September $25.00 put. The other benefit of this trade is that it gives you a $22.40 breakeven, which is 16% below NTI’s current price/share.
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The traditional, simpler approach is to buy NTI outright, and hold onto the shares long-term, using the dividend stream for income, and to ride out the potential ups and downs of NTI’s future share price and distributions.
We’ve adopted a combo of 2 strategies for NTI, since we believe in its business model: 1. Buy and hold for income and potential price appreciation 2. Sell cash secured puts, in order to gain additional income, and lower our ultimate breakeven cost.

NTI also has Covered Calls, which we list in our Covered Calls Table, where you can also see details on over 30 other covered calls trades.
However, the problem with adopting a short-term Covered Call trade for NTI is the uncertainty surrounding its next quarterly distribution – will it be $1.23 again, or will they cut the next distribution?
The biggest short term obstacle in NTI’s path is that they’ll be doing a scheduled shutdown of their refinery in the 2nd quarter for about 25 days. But there’s a silver lining- they’re doing the shutdown in order to expand their refining capacity. Yes, the 2nd quarter will show lower earnings, BUT, long term, the shutdown is a positive for NTI and its shareholders, due to the expanded capacity.
Institutional investors also believe in NTI’s future growth, as do analysts, who are projecting big EPS growth for 2013 and 2014, making NTI look undervalued on a PEG basis:
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Disclaimer: This article was written for informational purposes only and is not intended as investment advice.
Disclosure: The author was long NTI shares and short NTI put options at the time of this writing.