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Why Anadarko Could Be Worth 40 Percent More, or Even a Buyout Candidate

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: APC) has been called a great value in the oil and sector before, but times like these in the oil and gas sector bring very few analyst upgrades of any sort. After all, how many analysts want to make a bold call when oil keeps drifting lower and lower and when supply issues are weakening the corporate outlooks for the quarters (or years) ahead?

It turns out that the independent research firm Argus sees an even better opportunity for Anadarko Petroleum ahead. Argus already has Anadarko on the firm’s Focus List, and it decided to raise its price target to $105 from $100 in its analyst call that was refreshed on Tuesday.

The higher price target reflects Anadarko’s success in driving down well costs and by improving capital efficiency during a period of low oil prices. Anadarko’s solid balance sheet and access to liquidity are also said to be positive differentiating factors during the current industry downturn.

Argus further likes the company’s substantial base of reserve assets that will be (or can be) developed or monetized ahead. Its current asset portfolio and deepwater and exploration expertise was even said in the Argus call to make the company an attractive acquisition target for larger integrated firms which may be interested in buying assets on the cheap in the downturn.

ALSO READ: 6 Analyst Picks Called to Rise 50% to 100%

The new upside target and Buy rating reflects Anadarko’s exploration abilities and its expectations for 5% to 7% annual production growth through 2020. On the recent earnings report, Argus said:

Anadarko reported adjusted second-quarter net income of $4 million or $0.01 per share, compared to earnings of $669 million or $1.32 per share a year earlier. Despite the sharp drop from last year, the second quarter results were better than the consensus loss estimate of $0.52 per share and our loss estimate of $0.41 per share. The lower earnings were primarily the result of lower realized commodity prices. Anadarko has worked to mitigate the impact of lower commodity prices by growing its high-margin oil business and by cutting drilling and well completion costs, particularity in its Lower 48 acreage. Average production volume from continuing operations rose 1.7% year-over-year to 846,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Anadarko’s capital budget in 2015 remains $5.55 billion, down about 35% from 2014. Approximately 55% of the 2015 capital budget will be allocated to short-cycle projects, primarily focused on improving cash-margins, rather than on growth.

Argus further narrowed its 2015 non-GAAP loss estimate to $1.37 per share from $1.86 per share. And for earnings ahead, the firm’s 2016 estimate was raised to $0.56 from $0.36 per share.

On the long-term value, and on potential acquisition hopes, Argus concluded:

We think that Anadarko deserves to trade at a premium to peers based on the company’s visible project backlog, which is expected to deliver 5% to 7% annual production growth through 2020. In addition, Anadarko has a successful exploration program and has created substantial shareholder value through active portfolio management. It also has a strong balance sheet and adequate liquidity. We believe that the company’s current asset portfolio and deepwater and exploration expertise may make it an attractive acquisition target for larger integrated firms.

As far as other analysts calling for value here, we have seen Merrill Lynch call it a compelling buy. Anadarko was also loosely noted as a buyout candidate in a Cowen call in early July. Stifel tried to call a bottom back in march, when Anadarko shares were about 10% higher than now.

Anadarko shares were last seen down by 1.1% at $74.83 in late afternoon trading on Tuesday. The company’s 52-week range is $69.40 to $113.51, and its consensus analyst price target is $98.61.

By Jon C. Ogg


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