10 Popping MLP Distributions

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Master limited partnerships receive a lot of attention because of their lucrative distributions to investors. Now that all of the third-quarter results are in for our cherished MLPs, we are free to rank them in order of biggest distribution increase. The list is varied, containing partnerships like PetroLogistics , Dorchester Minerals , Atlas Resource Partners , Access Midstream Partners , and Western Gas Partners . Let's take a look.

Top 10
Without further ado, here are the top 10 biggest distribution increases on a year-over-year basis:

Source: Company releases and Yahoo! Finance.

PetroLogistics takes the crown with a 114% year-over-year bump to its distribution. It would also easily place first if we compared the quarter-over-quarter increases of not just this group but all MLPs. The partnership is relatively new to the Street, debuting just last year. It's a variable-rate MLP, which explains the giant pop sitting side by side with one consecutive quarter of raising its distribution. Variable-rate MLPs pay out what they can on a quarter-to-quarter basis. This just happened to be a great one for PetroLogistics.

You'd think looking at Atlas Energy's dividend history that it too was a variable-rate MLP, but that is not the case. Instead, Atlas paid a meager $0.27 distribution last year, and now that things are back on track, the partnership is paying up. Much of the improved performance is happening at Atlas Resource Partners -- also listed here -- and Atlas Pipeline Partners and flowing up to Atlas Energy in the form of incentive distribution rights.

Dorchester Minerals is the second variable-rate MLP on this list after PetroLogistics, and we've got a similar situation where there is a big pop in the distribution but no consistency to speak of by way of consecutive increases. Dorchester has paid a distribution in every quarter since going public in 2003, with payouts ranging from $0.206 to $0.948.

I'd be remiss to let Access Midstream, Sunoco Logistics, and Western Gas Partners go without mention. These three have the longest consecutive increase streaks of any MLPs on this list, a combination that can be quite the boon for an investor's portfolio. In fact, very few MLPs have a longer distribution streak than Sunoco Logistics. Western Gas is trying to get there, as is Access Midstream, whose streak goes back to its days as Chesapeake Midstream Partners. The partnership is on an absolute tear right now, and given that it expects to nearly double organic EBITDA growth this year over last, investors shouldn't expect its streak to end anytime soon.

Bottom line
Big increases are nice for unitholders and a great way to get some stocks on your radar you might not have considered, but it remains as important as ever to look past the headlines and do your research.

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The article 10 Popping MLP Distributions originally appeared on Fool.com.

Fool contributor Aimee Duffy has no position in any stocks mentioned, and neither does The Motley Fool. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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