28, 2002; Greed Gauge Stocks Stumbling
Along with the change
in currency values we have seen further erosion in investor confidence as more
shady practices are disclosed in the energy infrastructure industry.
The embarrassments include restated accounts, self-dealing, hidden debt,
and false transactions. Yet the
shady practice that disturbs us most gets almost
no critical attention. In fact more
blatantly conflicted transactions continue to be announced.
One of the latest is Enbridge making a billion dollar transfer of assets
from the parent to its limited partnership, Enbridge Energy Partners (EEP),
fourth ranked on the Greed Gauge. The
transfer is made at inflated prices that the limited partners are expected to
pay only to find that in a few years the general partner, who is also the
seller, allocates a disproportionate share of cash flow to itself.
A backlog of new equity financing seems to be building up.
Perhaps some of the offerings have been quietly delayed.
Underwriters under investigation by government agencies for conflicts of
interest may be having second thoughts about misrepresenting investments in
partnerships sponsored by El Paso, Dynegy and Williams.
Perhaps the Securities and Exchange Commission is taking a closer look at
the filings for new offerings.
The top ranked entity on the Greed Gauge seems to continue to skate free
of much serious critical scrutiny. After
a previous postponement, this is supposed to be the month that Kinder Morgan
raises perhaps a billion dollars in the version of its partnership
tax-engineered for institutional investors.
By our reckoning institutions would be paying some $35 for a security
worth perhaps a third of that.
We strongly recommend the sale of Kinder Morgan on the basis of what we
know, but a lot is not disclosed. Kinder
Morganís largest customer is Reliant, another Houston company that recently
admitted financial wrongdoing. One
insider knows. Mr. Morgan has sold
$50 million of his stock this year. The
last transaction took place at the peak of a mysterious temporary run up in