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Third Avenue Management Comments on Susser Petroleum Partners

September 18, 2013 | About:
Holly LaFon

Holly LaFon

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Susser Petroleum Partners (SUSP): In September 2012, Susser spun off its Susser Petroleum Partners ("SPP") wholesale fuel business into a Master Limited Partnership (MLP) structure that provides fuel to Susser, as well as to third parties. While this structure creates a degree of "analytical noise" as it relates to the company's reported GAAP financials, it creates a more appropriately valued "currency" for SPP that it can use for growth and acquisitions while it effectively lowers Susser's cost of capital. Moreover, in addition to being the controlling general partner and majority limited partner of the MLP, Susser also holds a hidden asset of sorts in the form of Incentive Distribution Rights (IDRs) which effectively entitle Susser to an increasing portion of the MLP's distributions as it grows. While the distributions will likely be modest over the near term, SPP has attractive growth opportunities over the long-term through organic growth, acquisitions, and Susser stores being "dropped down" into the MLP via sale-leaseback transactions. The business model also provides a significant competitive advantage to Susser as it is able to take advantage of SPP's combined retail and wholesale fuel purchasing volume to obtain attractive pricing and terms.

• Financial position: Since coming public in 2006, the strength of Susser's balance sheet has steadily improved. In the wake of the SPP initial public offering and resulting proceeds, Susser has been able to refinance its debt at attractive rates and ultimately reduce its net debt to about one times EBITDA 3 (down from about four times EBITDA in 2007).

• Valuation: Despite being recognized as among the highest-quality businesses in the convenience store industry, we were able to invest in Susser's retail operations at an implied valuation4 of less than six times trailing EBITDA, which represents a glaring discount not only to broader industry valuations but also to private market transaction values. In addition to its high-quality operations, we would argue that Susser deserves a premium valuation for its ownership of Laredo Taco Company in light of the brand's strength within Texas and the relatively high valuations ascribed to similar public "quick service restaurant" concepts.

From Third Avenue Management's semi-annual 2013 report.


Rating: 2.3/5 (3 votes)

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