Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’
— Bob Dylan, “The Times They Are A-Changin’”
Though scores of musicians have covered this Bob Dylan classic during the 50 years since its 1964 release, it’s probably safe to say that none of them were thinking about MLPs when doing so. But the times they are a-changin’ for MLPs too. When reflecting on the growth of the MLP industry over the years, most stakeholders point to the same statistics: number of securities, market capitalization, institutional participation, and number of access products. But perhaps no metric is more appropriate–and related to the lyrics above–than the number of MLP conferences. The waters are MLP conferences, and we’re drenched.
Just how high are the waters? It depends on what you consider an MLP conference. As a proxy, we looked at the number of bank conferences that the largest MLP, Enterprise Products Partners (EPD), suffered through attended in 2014 as reported via press releases, and compared that to the company’s participation rate 10 years before. The math suggests that a six-fold increase in enterprise value over the time period has translated into six times as many conferences attended. Then-CFO-now-CEO Mike Creel was the lone EPD representative in 2004, presenting three times. He spoke at three conferences in 2014 as well, but CFO Randy Fowler and Treasurer Bryan Bulawa also handled eight and seven engagements, respectively. Another press release didn’t specify the EPD participant, bringing us to a grand total of 19 bank conferences. This number doesn’t even account for non-deal roadshows, buy-side access days, and other industry events. Put another way, 35% of EPD’s 55 press releases in 2014 were related to management’s attendance at bank conferences.
In the paraphrased words of another famous artist, Mo Success Mo Conferences.