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3 Reasons to Buy Pembina Pipeline Corp.

The market has punished pretty much every stock connected to the energy sector, but times are still good for most of the pipeline operators, especially the mid-sized players like Pembina Pipeline Corp. (TSX:PPL)(NYSE:PBA).

Here’s why I think investors should consider putting Pembina on their watch lists.

1. A key player in core markets

Few people realize how important a role Pembina plays in the transportation of Canadian oil and gas liquids. The company carries almost all of the conventional oil and condensate that is produced in British Columbia, about 50% of the conventional oil produced in Alberta, and 30% of the natural gas liquids output in western Canada.

In total, Pembina has 1,650 km of pipelines dedicated to move oil sands production and another 9,200 km committed to transport conventional oil and natural gas liquids.

The company’s midstream services include a 73,000 barrel-per-day fractionator, 21 truck terminals, and nearly 14 million barrels of storage capacity.

Pembina also provides gas services including 375 km of gathering pipelines, as well as significant natural gas extraction and processing capacity.

2. Strong project backlog

There is no shortage of demand for Pembina’s services. The company has 10 transportation and midstream service projects on the go worth nearly $6 billion. The company expects $1.7 billion to be completed and operating in 2015, another $520 million completed in 2016, and $3.7 billion in 2017.

3. Attractive financials

Pembina has a strong balance sheet with attractive debt metrics and an investment-grade credit rating. The company recently closed a $225 million preferred share offering at very reasonable terms, which shows it has no trouble accessing capital markets.

Pembina’s operating margin increased by 14% in 2014 to $1.1 billion compared with $949 million for 2013.

The company pays an annualized dividend of $1.74 per share that yields about 4.2%. The shares currently trade at a reasonable 2.6 times book value. Price-to-book has averaged 3.2 for the past five years.

Should you buy?

The rout in the oil patch is putting pressure on producer margins, but most of the players are still increasing output. This is especially true with the oil sands companies that can’t afford to shut down production. It’s simply way too expensive to turn out the lights, even if oil is trading below operating costs.

Pembina is a growing company with little direct exposure to energy prices and a reliable dividend that should continue to increase as new projects go into service. The downside risk is probably limited at this point and a rebound in oil prices should put a tailwind behind the stock.

This company is well positioned to ride out the slump in oil markets, and buying a good stock when the sector is out of favour can bring substantial long-term rewards, but you have to get the timing right.

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

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