RRC - $31.04 - Range Resources ** Stop Loss $29.50 **
RRC actually managed to set a new high on Thursday despite the profit taking in the markets. However, it is moving up very slowly and I am going to remove it next week if it does not breakout this week. Too many fast movers to waste time and money on one that has slowed.
RRC reported earnings that increased +117% on production that rose +28%. Nobody can argue with those results but the stock price remained range bound between $30-$31. Seems spectacular earnings were already priced into the stock. Funds looking for a stellar performer could be looking for RRC when new money arrives next week. RRC is expensive at a PE of 35 but only has 86 million shares outstanding. What is +100% growth worth?
Range Resources Corporation (RRC) is an independent natural gas and oil company engaged in the exploration, development and acquisition of oil and gas properties, primarily in the Southwestern, Appalachian and Gulf Coast regions of the United States. As of December 31, 2004, RRC has proved reserves of 1.18 trillion cubic feet (Tcfe) of natural gas equivalent, of which 81% natural gas; 64% is proved developed reserves, and 77% operated with a reserve life of 14.9 years. The Company owns 2,428,000 gross (1,890,000 net) acres of leasehold plus over 400,000 royalty acres. RRC has a multi-year inventory of drilling projects that includes over 5,000 identified drilling locations. On June 23, 2004, RRC purchased the 50% of the remaining Great Lakes that it did not own. In December 2004, RRC also purchased additional Appalachian properties through the purchase of PMOG Holdings, Inc, a private company, or Pine Mountain.
Dec 2005 $30 CALL RRC-LF @ $2.90
Entry $30.50 (7/13)
APA - $68.43 - Apache ** Stop Loss $67.00 **
Apache has been chopping around under resistance at $70-$71 for a month now with no material effort to breakout. We were triggered on one of it's earlier breakout attempts and are underwater at this time. If APA does not form an uptrend this week with oil at a new high I am dropping it.
APA posted earnings that rose +54% at $1.76 but missed analyst's estimates for $1.84. APA said production increased +6% to 470,000 bbls per day. Apache said aggressive drilling programs in Cnanad, Egypt, the North Sea and Australia point to continued production growth in the second half of 2005. After spiking to a new high at $71.22 the price fell to $67.75 on the earnings miss. A slight rebound was sold on Friday but it remained above it's lows for the week. We were initially filled on a gap open above $70 so the decline puts us into a negative position. There is no insurance put and the stop remains $65.
Apache Corporation is an independent energy company that explores for, develops and produces natural gas, crude oil and natural gas liquids. In North America, the exploration and production interests are focused in the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf Coast, the Permian Basin, the Anadarko Basin and the Western Sedimentary Basin of Canada. The Company has interests in seven countries, such as the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, the United Kingdom, China and Argentina. Its segments are the United States, Canada, Egypt, Australia, North Sea and Other International. On August 20, 2004, Apache signed a definitive agreement to acquire all of Anadarko's Gulf of Mexico-Outer Continental Shelf properties (excluding certain deepwater properties). During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company participated in drilling 1,913 gross wells, with 1,735 (90.7%) completed as producers.
2008 $75 LEAP CALL YWA-AO @ $13.70
Entry $70.50 (7/12)
EOG - $61.95 EOG Resources ** Stop loss $58.50 **
EOG has not been able to climb out of its post earnings rut around $62. It was downgraded after earnings as "not having enough excitement ahead". That was entirely different than what I read but the stock has languished ever since. We are still up about +$2 on the leap but I am going to snug up the stop to exit on any weakness.
EOG posted earnings that rose +74% and raised its production targets for the rest of 2005 to +15.5% from +13.5% due to better than expected output for the first six months. EOG management emphasized the strong growth outlook throughout its core operating regions excluding the Barnett Shale play. Unfortunately Smith Barney and Banc America cut them to a hold because there was a lack of significantly positive news. Say what? Earnings rose +74% and production targets raised are not significant items? The stock was hammered from $66 back to $59 but has mounted a steady two-day rebound. Can you say "entry point?"
EOG is engaged in the exploration, development, production, and marketing of natural gas and crude oil, primarily in major producing basins in the U.S., as well as in Canada, Trinidad, the United Kingdom North Sea and, from time to time, select other international areas. At December 31, 2004, EOG's total estimated net proved reserves were 5,647 billion cubic feet equivalent (Bcfe), of which 5,047 billion cubic feet (Bcf) were natural gas reserves and 100 million barrels (MMBbl), or 600 Bcfe, were crude oil, condensate and natural gas liquids reserves. At such date, approximately 50% of EOG's reserves (on a natural gas equivalent basis) were located in the United States, 25% in Trinidad, 24% in Canada and 1% in the United Kingdom North Sea. EOG's operations are all natural gas and crude oil exploration and production related. (source EOG)
Joe Allman, natural gas analyst at RBC Capital Markets said EOG and companies like them generate a 30% to 50% rate of return on assets. Sometimes even 100% on certain projects. EOG grew +30% in 2004.
EOG finished first in an investor relations survey by Greenwich last week. Rounding out the top five were Noble Corp, Carnival, Dell and UTX.
2007 $60.00 LEAP Call OAC-AL @ $9.50
No insurance put
Entry $59.00 (7/05)
ECA $43.02 Encana Corp ** Stop Loss $41.00 **
ECA continues to tick higher fed in part by Jim Cramer's relentless table pounding on the stock. It appears to have added volatility to the price and I raised the stop just in case the Cramer home gamers run elsewhere.
Encana soared to a new three-week high at $43.20 after earnings that rose +78% to 73 cents per share but fell -6 cents short of analyst's estimates. The stock sold off slightly on profit taking after the company said higher costs due to a wet spring delay on bringing new wells online. A shortage of drilling rigs and production equipment also contributed to the delay of bringing new wells online. Encana said it had ordered 27 new rigs built to their specifications that would resolve these types of shortages. Rig costs have skyrocketed for leased rigs due to competition for available inventory and the demand for increased drilling. At $41 we are right at our entry point and a +78% grower will be in favor for the next rebound.
ECA owns the largest independent gas storage network but that is not the primary focus of its business. ECA has been divesting itself of non-core assets in an effort to focus on its main business. It will divest itself of the gas network either through a competitive bid or IPO by early 2006. This represents a major cash generation point for ECA and they will use the cash to acquire more reserves. This is the kind of story we want in our LEAPS portfolio. Unfortunately ECA does not have leaps and we will have to use the Jan-06 calls. That should get us through the Fall demand cycle and allow us to take profits ahead of the spring dip.
With an enterprise value of approximately US$44 billion, EnCana is one of North America's leading natural gas producers, is among the largest holders of gas and oil resource lands onshore North America and is a technical and cost leader in the in-situ recovery of oilsands bitumen. EnCana delivers predictable, reliable, profitable growth from its portfolio of long-life resource plays situated in Canada and the United States. Contained in unconventional reservoirs, resource plays are large contiguous accumulations of hydrocarbons, located in thick or really extensive deposits, that typically have low geological and commercial development risk, low average decline rates and very long producing lives. The application of technology to unlock the huge resource potential of these plays typically results in continuous increases in production and reserves and decreases in costs over multiple decades of resource play life. (source Encana)
Encana does not have leaps so we are going to use the January-06 calls. The demand cycle runs through November giving us plenty of time to rotate out and reenter on the spring demand dip.
JAN 2006 $45 CALL ECA-AI @ $2.70
Entry $42 (7/05)
MRO $59.96 Marathon Oil ** Stop Loss $56.00 **
Marathon posted a new all time high on Wednesday but gave up ground to the profit taking. We saw a nice rebound off the 100 day average on the 30 min chart, which has been support in the past. MRO still looks positive as long as gas/oil prices continue higher.
MRO posted profits that nearly doubled with $1.92 per share compared to $1.02 in the same quarter in 2004. Analysts had expected MRO to earn $1.57. Revenue rose to $12.09 billion. MRO said Q3 earnings would dip slightly due to hurricane shut-ins in the Gulf. Traders evidently did not care and MRO hit a new high at $59.12 on Friday. I raised the stop to $56.
It appears Chevron will end up with Unocal and that leaves CNOOC hungry and looking for other targets. XOM also has nearly $30 billion in cash and needing to make an acquisition. Marathon is one of the largest remaining independents and a likely target due to its diverse operations. MRO has several large properties in Asia and within China's sphere of influence.
Marathon Oil Corporation (Marathon) is engaged in worldwide exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. It operates through three segments: exploration and production (E&P), which explores for and produces crude oil and natural gas; refining, marketing and transportation (RM&T), which refines, markets and transports crude oil and petroleum products, and integrated gas (IG), which markets and transports natural gas and products manufactured from natural gas, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and methanol. The Company's principal operating subsidiaries are Marathon Oil Company and Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC (MAP). During the year ended December 31, 2004, the Company's worldwide liquid hydrocarbon production averaged 170,000 barrels per day (bpd) and sales of natural gas production, including gas acquired for injection and subsequent resale, averaged 999 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd).
On Thursday (June 30th) MRO completed acquisition of $3.7B in properties from Ashland Inc (ASH). Asland owned 38% in Marathon Ashland Petroleum (MAP) and two other businesses. ASH fell -$11.72 on the deal which represented the payment from MRO to Ashland and Ashland shareholders of stock and cash. Ashland applied $2.5B of the proceeds to payoff debt.
2007 $55 LEAP Call VXM-AK @ $7.90
No put insurance
Entry $54.74 (6/27)
CHK - $28.46 Chesapeake Energy ** Stop $25.50 **
You can't get more excited than this with CHK soaring to a new all time high on Friday after posting earnings that doubled from the prior quarter. Insider buying is off the scale and the CEO said on CNBC that gas demand was rising faster than reserves and prices were going higher. He was pounding the table on his own stock as undervalued and that is something you don't often see.
CHK earnings more than doubled in the past quarter due to increased production and higher oil/gas prices. Production jumped by +31% from the prior quarter. They also said since the end of Q2 they had acquired 33 mcfpd of gas production and 113 bcf of proved reserves along with 181 bcf of unproven reserves.
Chesapeake Energy Corporation is the third largest independent producer of natural gas in the U.S. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company's operations are focused on exploratory and developmental drilling and producing property acquisitions in the Mid-Continent, Permian Basin, South Texas, Texas Gulf Coast and Ark-La-Tex (including the Barnett Shale) regions of the United States.
Chesapeake Energy derives 90% of its revenues from natural gas. They are very aggressive about replacing reserves and will capitalize on the continued increase in prices. Gas prices have soared in the U.S. due to the addition and conversion of electric plants to the cleaner fuel. Several times over the last winter the gas levels supplying those plants dipped to dangerous levels. The demand is increasing faster than supply and the production peak is now estimated to be 2007. Prices are going to continue higher, much higher and Chesapeake is positioned to benefit.
This summer much of northern California will get its electricity from gas due to a drought in the northwestern hydro-electric grid. Generation levels will be below normal and natural gas is the fall back fuel.
2007 $20 LEAP Call VEC-AD @ $4.00
Entry $19.00 (05/13)
APC - $85.84 Anadarko Petroleum ** Stop $83.00 **
APC has trended down for the last week and is nearing our stop. Investors appear not to like the sale of non-core assets although it allowed them to pay off debt and streamline costs. We are up about +$9 in the leap and I will not hesitate to take profits if the stop is hit.
APC reported a +25% jump in earnings but production fell as it sold off non-core assets. APC has been restructuring to devote all its efforts to its main business of exploring and producing oil and gas. Production on current assets increased +10% for the period. Sales of non-core assets allowed it to pay off $1.4 billion in debt and reduce interest expenses -24% for the period. It also used the proceeds to buy back 1.4 million shares in July. APC has another $300 million of shares remaining to complete its $2 billion share buyback. APC came close to a new high on Friday at just over $90 so it appears investors applaud the APC efforts.
Anadarko Petroleum Corporation's mission is to deliver a competitive and sustainable rate of return to shareholders by developing, acquiring and exploring for oil and gas resources vital to the world's health and welfare. As of year-end 2004, the company had 2.37 billion barrels of oil equivalent of proved reserves, making it one of the world's largest independent exploration and production companies. Anadarko's operational focus in North America extends from the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, up through Texas, Louisiana, the Mid-Continent, western U.S. and Canadian Rockies and onto the North Slope of Alaska. Anadarko also has significant production in Algeria, Venezuela and Qatar, and exploration or production positions in several other countries.
Anadarko has just completed a restructuring program and raised estimates on May-2nd. They expect output to rise +5% in 2005 and costs to be below industry trends. S&P is estimating $8.55 for earnings in 2005 and a price target of $85.
APC signed a new pipeline deal in late June to accommodate 750 mcfpd from its Bear Head terminal currently under construction. APC announced last week it is on track to meet its annual production growth target of +5% to +9% per year through 2009. APC said it had identified 2.1 boe of additional resource potential. Half of the new resources are already on APC properties under development.
2007 $75 LEAP Call OCP-AO @ $10.10
COP - $63.70 Conoco Phillips ** Stop $61.00 **
COP rallied to a new high at $65 on Wednesday and +$16 over our entry price. COP is still seen as the fastest growing major oil and the profit taking on Friday barely managed to scratch COP with only a -43 cent loss.
COP posted earnings of +51%, $3.14 billion, $2.21 per share and easily beat analyst estimates of $2.02. COP is the nations third largest oil company and an aggressive grower of reserves. The CEO said they were not seeing any reduction in demand. COP produces 1.7 mbpd with capacity utilization at 97% and refineries near full capacity. COP is working on a $9 billion capital improvement program over five years including $3 billion to upgrade refineries to process sour crude. He said that crude deliveries around the globe were becoming increasingly sour as sweet crude becomes scarcer. Those refiners who have to chase the dwindling supplies of sweet crude will pay constantly higher prices and see margins shrink. COP said they see stronger production for the rest of 2005 with about a 4% increase. COP has increased its share of Lukeoil to 12.6% and plans to increase it to 20% soon.
COP is one of the fastest growers on the planet despite its size. It is my number one oil pick for buy and holders. While XOM and BP are shrinking COP is growing.
COP has been aggressively purchasing assets around the globe and especially in Russia. Putin has said repeatedly that COP assets and agreements are not at risk and that COP is a partner with Russia in producing their oil.
On July 1st COP and Russia's Lukoil finalized a joint venture to develop energy fields in Artic Russia as part of a broader strategic alliance. COP has very good contacts in Russia and has been mentioned several times by Putin as a strategic partner. COP owns 12.6% of LUKOIL and has been approved to buy up to 20%.
2:1 Split on June 2nd gave us 2 of each.
(2) 2007 $50 LEAP Call OJP-AJ @ $7.88
Entry (4/18 $49.00)
OXY - $81.42 Occidental Petroleum ** Stop $79.00 **
OXY was hammered on Thr/Fri for a -$2 loss but given the early week spike to new highs we ended neutral for the week. OXY reported earnings three weeks ago so the excitement may be leaving. A good dose of another new high for oil prices could turn that around quickly.
OXY reported an agreement with Oman to invest $2B in the Mukhaizna oil field and upgrade production from 10,000 bbls per day to 150,000 per day. I would happily invest $2B once to get $3B return per year. Good job!
OXY announced it had been given approval to resume operations on its historical contract in Libya. It was forced to abandon operations when sanctions were imposed in 1986 due to the Pan-Am bombing. OXY expects to be producing up to 15,000 bbls per day by year end from the Libyan fields. It also won contracts on new blocks in a January auction along with COP and AHC.
OXY is the 239th largest company in the world and an oil giant.
S&P reiterated its bullish outlook on OXY given the additions in the Permian Basin, recovery of its Lybia assets and the Oman contract award. Things seem to be going very well for OXY.
2007 $70 LEAP Call VXY-AN @ $10.00
XLE - $48.40 Energy SPDR ** Stop $46.75 **
The decline in XOM was offset by the spike in the drillers and the XLE posted a gain for the week despite the profit taking on Friday. It tagged a new all time high on Wednesday at $49.30.
The XLE SPDR is composed of 27 energy stocks and represents about 8% of the SPX. This is the 8% that helped push the SPX to the current levels with the rise in oil over the last year. In fact the XLE has far exceeded the SPX in performance over the past year.
I chose a leap close to the money because there was no material price difference for the Leaps $2-3 away. Insurance is cheap and I expect this to be a very long-term play.
2007 $40 LEAP Call ORJ-AN @ $5.60
Entry $39.75 (4/18)
VLO - $88.37 Valero Energy ** Stop $81.00 **
VLO was the rocket this week posting a strong gain over last week despite finishing -2 off its highs. Any week I can raise the stop loss +4 and still be well out of range is a successful week.
VLO posted its highest profit ever of +3.06 per share and said the rest of 2005 and 2006 would be better than ever. The CEO said demand for refined products had never been stronger and was growing. Their margins grew to $9.61 per bbl compared to $1.61 in Q2-2004 due to their ability to refine sour crude. He said the presence of very high margins in the middle of the summer proved how strong the demand was and how tight refining capacity was at full speed. He predicted a loss of 500,000 bbls of production by other refineries in 2006 when higher sulfur restrictions come into play. This will put additional pressure on refineries that can refine the heavy crude and make demand for light sweet crude even more excessive. VLO is positioned to profit from this change and will see volumes increase dramatically with its acquisition of Premcor.
VLO remains in the best position to profit given their ability to refine the heavy sour crude currently available in the market. As prices rise on distillates VLO will continue to gain margin against other refiners.
VLO has been weak since the announcement it was buying Premcor. This should be a very good deal for them and the combined companies will control a large portion of the refinery business. Think of it as a buying opportunity.
Valero is the largest independent refiner in the U.S. and one that has made the switch to the higher profit margins of sour crude. Oil prices are generally quoted using the West Texas Light Sweet price. The sour crude sells for significantly less and will become the dominant variety as oil supplies dwindle. Sour crude has been running about $10 a bbl under sweet crude. Valero is seeing even bigger discounts from less desirable grades from Mexico and Alaska. It costs more to process the sour crude and fewer refineries can handle it. This forces the price of that sour crude lower. Finished gasoline is priced basically on the price of a barrel of sweet crude. This means the same gas Valero produces from cheaper sour crude sells for the same price as the gas produced from sweet crude. This enables Valero to capture a significant profit margin. They had a record year in 2004 due in part to their ability to process the cheaper grade of oil. The company has already said 2005 profits will be higher in 2005 even if margins narrow for others.
Company website: http://www.valero.com/About+Valero/
Valero announced on June-30th it was going to retire the Diamond Shamrock brand and put up Valero signs at its 2,900 Shamrock stations. This will give the Valero brand and image a huge boost since few if any consumers know Valero owned the chain. Valero has gone from a single refinery with 170,000 bbls of output to 14 refineries and 2.5 mbpd of output and 4,700 retail stores over just a few short years. It will become the largest refiner in the nation when it completes its acquisition of Premcor later this year.
2007 $75 LEAP Call VHB-AO @ $14.10
Entry $68.00 (4/15)
CVX - $60.33 Chevron Texaco ** No stop **
Chevron is only two days away from completing its acquisition of Unocal as long as shareholders vote for the deal and a new bidder does not appear suddenly. CNOOC pulled out of the bidding and Chevron broke out of its two months of congestion.
If the vote is positive on Tuesday sell the insurance put, currently 35 cents, and add a stop loss at $57.50.
Chevron rallied to a new short term high at $58.41 after posting earnings of $1.76 that beat estimates of $1.69. That high did not last long after investors read that Chevron's production fell -15% in the U.S. and -2% internationally.
Chevron will likely sell off about $3 billion in non-core assets once the Unocal deal is consummated. The main asset Chevron wanted was the 1.7 billion barrels of proven reserves and tens of thousands of acres of additional leases still to be explored. Chevrons current average cost of produced crude is $27. After selling the non-core assets they will end up with the Unocal proven reserves at about $9 a bbl plus billions in other assets like gas fields, power plants and joint ventures around the world. This was a very sweet deal for Chevron even at the raised price.
The Unocal leap was actually triggered when the price hit $59 on the announcement. With UCL trading at $58.74 at Friday's close there would not have been any material movement. Because any Unocal leap will eventually end up being a Chevron leap I am electing to use the previously recommended Chevron leap as the actual position. I am using Friday's close for the entry price.
2007 $60.00 LEAP Call VCH-AL @ $5.60
We held both CVX and UCL leaps when the buyout was announced. I dropped the UCL listing as a duplicate to focus on the eventual merged company.
New Put 6/19
Entry $56.67 (04/07)