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Will Hess' (HES) Structural Transformation Boost Growth?

On May 9, 2016, we issued an updated research report on global Exploration & Production (E&P) company Hess Corporation HES.

Hess has transformed to a predominantly E&P entity, thereby shifting its growth approach from high-impact exploration to low-risk unconventionals, and a smaller, more focused exploration portfolio. Also, the company divested its downstream businesses, including energy marketing, terminals, retail marketing and refining operations. In view of the global economic slowdown and new refining capacity entering the world market, the aforesaid decisions will help enhance Hess’ shareholder value.

Hess’ priority remains investment in future growth with a balanced approach between unconventional, exploitation and exploration. Recently, the company divested several assets and is in the process of shedding some more. The amount raised through asset sale is expected to help fund E&P investments. Further, North Dakota is expected to be a key production growth driver moving ahead. Therefore, the company will continue to look at all opportunities to enhance long-term shareholder value.

We expect unconventional oil (including sources like oil shales and coal-based liquid supplies) and gas extraction (using non-traditional techniques) to play important roles in the world energy mix in the long run. Following the build-up of position in the North American Bakken oil field for unconventional oil, Hess is pursuing unconventional gas in the Marcellus Shale play. Hess’ exposures to Eagle Ford and Utica shales as well as several global development projects (such as Ghana, Brunei, North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, Southeast Asia and Kurdistan) are likely to boost growth in 2016 and beyond.

However, in order to support its capital expenditures through 2016, the company continues to be highly dependent on major asset sales. Hence, the company’s growth and returns picture will likely be hindered by the asset sale programs in the near term. Moreover, in 2015, Hess registered a fall in its reserves. As of year-end 2015, Hess’ proved reserves tally was 1.09 billion oil-equivalent barrels, down 24.1% from the 2014-end level. The current scenario continues to be gloomy and depicts lower reserve and production in 2016.

Moreover, Hess has reduced its 2016 capital expenditure by 40% to $2.4 billion from $4 billion spent in 2015. In fact, capital spending during first-quarter 2016 was $544 million, down 56% year over year. Therefore, production levels are also expected to decrease and are estimated to range between 330 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (mboed) and 350 mboed. The drastic fall in oil prices has affected all oil majors and the impact can be witnessed in the reduced level of operations and cost cuts.

Stocks to Consider

Currently, Hess carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the oil and gas sector include Pembina Pipeline Corporation PBA, Transocean Partners LLC RIGP and Braskem S.A. BAK. All these sport a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report
TRANSOCEAN PTN (RIGP): Free Stock Analysis Report
BRASKEM SA (BAK): Free Stock Analysis Report
HESS CORP (HES): Free Stock Analysis Report
PEMBINA PIPELN (PBA): Free Stock Analysis Report
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