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American Midstream slashes distribution by 75%; shares plummet

American Midstream Partners LP slashed investor payouts citing prohibitively high public equity costs that require a laser focus on cash retention.

The partnership on July 27 announced a second-quarter distribution of 10.31 cents per common unit, or 41.25 cents annualized, down 75% from the previous quarter when shareholders received 41.25 cents per common unit, or $1.65 per unit annually. American Midstream expects the distribution to free up an additional $65 million of capital per year that can be used to pay down debt and be put toward growth projects.

"Equity capital market constraints for master limited partnerships and the availability of equity capital at acceptable costs and in sufficient quantities, warrants retaining an increased portion of operating cash flow to support growth of the partnership," American Midstream said in a statement.

Investors were not impressed by the new strategy, sending American Midstream shares down almost 38% before the market opened on July 27.

The MLP said it also plans to sell approximately $350 million to $400 million of non-core assets in addition to a previously announced divestiture from its $210 million marine terminals business and a proposal to offload its $138.5 million refined products terminals segment "due to delays in obtaining federal regulatory approval."

American Midstream anticipates the asset sales will allow it to achieve a nearly 4x long-term leverage ratio by mid-2019, in an effort to boost credit ratings.