VettaFi Head of Energy Research Stacey Morris Discusses Strong Performance for Midstream Sector

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VettaFi Head of Energy Research Stacey Morris joined Steve Darling from Proactive to discuss the robust performance of the midstream energy sector. The midstream energy dividend UCITS ETF has exhibited strong growth, rising 11% year-to-date. This performance outpaces major European energy companies and the Euro Stoxx 600 oil and gas index. The sector's growth is primarily driven by companies generating substantial free cash flow and increasing their dividends. Impressively, 90% of the index's companies have raised their dividends in the past year.

Morris highlighted that first-quarter earnings in the sector exceeded analyst expectations, prompting some companies to raise their annual guidance. The sector also saw a significant $1.5 billion in equity buybacks, underscoring the financial health and shareholder-friendly policies of midstream companies.

One of the key drivers benefiting the midstream sector is the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in data centers, which is boosting demand for natural gas. This trend supports the midstream sector without exposing it to the volatility of commodity prices. Morris emphasized that investors should consider midstream investments due to their stable returns derived from fees for moving and processing natural gas, attractive yields, and defensive energy exposure.

Despite the strong performance, valuations in the midstream sector remain attractive relative to historical averages. This presents potential opportunities for re-rating as companies continue to execute their strategies effectively. The outlook for the remainder of the year is positive, with expectations of continued dividend growth and equity buybacks. Importantly, these positive trends are expected to persist regardless of the upcoming elections, providing investors with a degree of certainty and stability.

Morris noted that the midstream sector's ability to generate consistent free cash flow and its commitment to returning capital to shareholders through dividends and buybacks make it an appealing investment. The sector's resilience and growth potential are underpinned by strong operational execution and favorable market dynamics.

Looking ahead, VettaFi expects the midstream energy sector to continue delivering robust performance. The combination of attractive valuations, stable income streams, and growth opportunities driven by increasing natural gas demand positions the sector for sustained success. Investors are encouraged to explore midstream energy investments to capitalize on these favorable trends.

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