Thoughts on MLPs
I own a number of MLPs and am generally positive on the sector. Quicksilver Gas Services (KGS) and Legacy Partners (LGCY) are smaller companies that have risen over 40% YTD; KGS is a midstream MLP and LGCY is an E&P (actually mainly P, since it mainly buys older fields). I do not consider either of them to have an economic moat, although I believe that KGS has significant growth potential and LGCY pays a very nice distribution. KGS actually hiked its distribution by 3% while LGCY is maintaining theirs. LGCY and KWK, which is KGS' parent, have significant hedging in place.
I'm not sure that either of these two is in buy territory right now. However, they do pay large and growing distributions. KGS in particular is attractive, since its parent is one of the fastest growing operators in the Fort Worth basin; KGS basically has an exclusive contract with KWK and can expect to transport a growing volume of natural gas. Even if oil and gas prices stagnate at a low level for a number of years, I don't believe that either of these firms will go bankrupt. They will still be able to maintain some level of distributions. However, there is definite risk to both these firms. KWK is highly leveraged. While KGS isn't directly exposed to commodity prices, its distributions depend on how much gas is flowing; if KWK doesn't grow its production for whatever reason, KGS suffers. LGCY is directly exposed to commodity prices.
Enterprise GP Holdings (EPE) has risen about 20%. I think it's still in buy territory. The firm's constituent MLPs have been both growing their distributions and raising liquidity. I wouldn't be surprised to see EPE itself make new acquisitions. EPE is not directly exposed to commodity prices.