TransCanada Corporation (TSX:TRP)(NYSE:TRP) is down more than 10% since the beginning of the year and new investors are wondering if this is a good time to start a position in the stock.

Let’s take a look at the current situation to see if the pipeline giant deserves to hold a spot in your portfolio.

Project backlog

TransCanada’s battle to get approval for the construction of the northern leg of its Keystone XL pipeline has received most of the market’s attention over the past few years.

Keystone’s cost has ballooned to more than $8 billion, and while TransCanada says its customers still support the project, investors should make their investment decision based on the rest of TransCanada’s project portfolio.

At the moment the company has $12 billion in smaller projects it plans to complete over the next three years. This is important for investors because it guarantees revenue and cash flow growth, which should translate into higher dividends.

On the natural gas side of the business, TransCanada has about $6.7 billion in gas projects under development.

One asset of particular interest is the $1.7 billion North Montney Mainline project, which received clearance from the National Energy Board on April 16. The project will add substantial new capacity to meet the needs of the rapid development of gas resources in northeastern British Columbia.

With gas production in B.C. set to exceed domestic demand, TransCanada will play an important role in transporting the excess supply to LNG terminals on the coast where the gas with be liquefied for export to foreign markets.

Natural gas transportation is TransCanada’s largest division, but liquids pipelines are gaining more importance in the asset mix.

TransCanada’s $12 billion Energy East pipeline will carry oil from western Canada to the east coast for export to international markets. The company expects the pipeline to be completed and in service by 2020. Major producers have already booked more than 90% of the capacity on Energy East and the cash flow generated by the project should find its way into the pockets of shareholders for decades.

Dividend growth

TransCanada pays a dividend of $2.08 per share that yields about 3.9%. The company has a strong history of increasing the payout, and investors should see the trend continue as new pipeline assets move from development to active service.

Should you buy TransCanada?

Recent weakness in TransCanada’s stock should be seen as a buying opportunity for long-term investors.

The current rout in energy markets will simply weed out weaker producers, but the industry should emerge stronger and investors can expect production to expand once the shakeout process is complete.

A split of the company could be a windfall for shareholders. Analysts believe TransCanada would unlock significant value for investors by spinning-off the power generation assets into a separate company. There is no guarantee this will happen, so investors should view the possibility as a bonus.

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Fool contributor Andrew Walker has no position in any stocks mentioned.