|ENTERPRISE PRODUCTS PARTNERS L P filed this Form 10-K on 02/28/2018|
Cash provided by financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2016 was $321.7 million compared to cash used in financing activities for the year ended December 31, 2015 of $616.0 million. The $937.7 million year-to-year change in cash flow from financing activities was primarily due to:
Cash Distributions to Limited Partners
Our partnership agreement requires us to make quarterly distributions to our unitholders of all available cash, after any cash reserves established by Enterprise GP in its sole discretion. Cash reserves include those for the proper conduct of our business including, for example, those for capital expenditures, debt service, working capital, operating expenses, commitments and contingencies and other significant amounts. The retention of cash by the partnership allows us to reinvest in our growth and reduce our future reliance on the equity and debt capital markets.
In January 2018, the Board declared a cash distribution of $0.4250 per common unit with respect to the fourth quarter of 2017. In addition, our management announced plans in October 2017 to recommend to the Board additional quarterly cash distribution increases of $0.0025 per unit with respect to each of the four quarters of 2018. For additional information regarding our expected distribution growth rate, see “Significant Recent Developments” within this Item 7.
We measure available cash by reference to “distributable cash flow,” which is a non-GAAP liquidity measure. Distributable cash flow is an important non-GAAP financial measure for our limited partners since it serves as an indicator of our success in providing a cash return on investment. Specifically, this financial measure indicates to investors whether or not we are generating cash flows at a level that can sustain or support an increase in our quarterly cash distributions. Distributable cash flow is also a quantitative standard used by the investment community with respect to publicly traded partnerships because the value of a partnership unit is, in part, measured by its yield, which is based on the amount of cash distributions a partnership can pay to a unitholder. Our management compares the distributable cash flow we generate to the cash distributions we expect to pay our partners. Using this metric, management computes our distribution coverage ratio.
Based on the level of available cash, management proposes a quarterly cash distribution rate to the Board of Enterprise GP, which has sole authority in approving such matters. Unlike several other master limited partnerships, our general partner has a non-economic ownership interest in us and is not entitled to receive any cash distributions from us based on incentive distribution rights or other equity interests.
Our use of distributable cash flow for the limited purposes described above and in this report is not a substitute for net cash flows provided by operating activities, which is the most comparable GAAP measure. For a discussion of net cash flows provided by operating activities, see the previous section titled “Cash Flows from Operating, Investing and Financing Activities” within this Item 7.