Oil’s Out of Favor? Try Natural Gas

The Dow is stuck in a thousand-point range, Cramer said Friday, working its way back and forth between 9,700 and 10,700. Soon enough, though, we’ll be near the peak, and when we get there you’ll want some dividend-payers in your portfolio. These stocks rarely fall as sharply as the rest of the market, but if they do their yields shoot higher.

“Which means you can comfortably and happily buy more shares at a better price and a better yield,” Cramer said.

When it comes to high-yielders, Cramer likes MarkWest Energy Partners . A Denver-based natural gas company, it boasts a "gigantic" 8% dividend yield. MarkWest is at its high because of the BPoil spill, as anything nat gas took off this week, but Cramer thinks there could be more gains to come as this cleaner, more plentiful commodity overtakes crude oil as the US’s fuel of choice.

Like a utility company, MarkWest operates natural gas gathering systems, pipelines and nat gas processing facilities. It has widespread infrastructure, so Cramer thinks it is a good play on unconventional natural gas shales, like the Marcellus shale in Appalachia. Because its pipes are already in the ground, Cramer said the company doesn't need to worry about discovering natural gas. Instead, it has become the go-to infrastructure play in the Marcellus. MarkWest is the largest gatherer and processor in the Marcellus and the largest gas processor in the entire Appalachian basin. The Marcellus made up 25% of MarkWest's operating income in 2009, but Cramer thinks it will increase to 34% in 2010.

"Their position in the Marcellus is what makes this stock attractive," Cramer said, “but the company does business all over America."

Cramer also likes MarkWest's business structure. He said the company gets up to 44% of its income from fee-based business, with plans to increase it to 50% by 2012. The company has some exposure to natural gas prices and other commodities, but 70% of the company's volumes are hedged for 2010 and 2011. That means earnings are safe because only a quarter of the company's operating income has exposure to commodity price swings. Its dividend is also safe, Cramer said, because the company has enough cash flow to cover its dividend distribution 1.4 times over.

With MarkWest's 8.2% yield, the worst that happens is its stock goes down and the yield increases.

"Now that's what I call a real high-quality problem," Cramer said.

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