The past two years have been a tough slog for MLPs but the sector now offers investors “a good entry point” with the potential for market-pacing returns in the near future.

That was one of many insights a panel of energy sector financial analysts offered at the 4th annual Capital Link Master Limited Partnership Investing Forum on March 2. Ed Russell, senior managing director for Tortoise Capital Advisors LLC, served as panel moderator and opened the lively discussion with that opinion on the sector’s prospects.

Timm Schneider, senior managing director and fundamental research analyst for Evercore ISI, agreed with Russell and projected annual returns of 7% to 8%, adding “it’s the best deal-oriented sector out there.” Schneider compared limited partnerships to the utility sector, which is expected to offer annual returns of 3% to 5% “but is safer.” He added that because of the shakeout of weaker partnership during the energy downturn, “MLPs have become a much safer investment.”