Lombardi: Stock Market Commentary & Forecasts, Financial & Economic Analysis Since 1986

Posts Tagged ‘oil prices’

My Top Value Play in Bakken Oil

By for Profit Confidential

Top Value Play in Bakken OilThe weakness in oil prices was pretty sudden and has changed the financial dynamics for many producers. Typically, weaker oil prices are slow to translate into lower prices at the pumps.

Domestic junior oil stocks have been hot commodities until recently. Many of the market’s best growth stocks in this sector continue to be expensively priced and finding value has been a difficult endeavor.

One company we’ve considered before in these pages is Northern Oil and Gas, Inc. (NOG). (See “My Favorite Bakken Oil Play.”) This outfit is based in Minnesota and operates in North Dakota and Montana. The stock is not expensively priced, and the company is back online with solid sequential growth in production.

Northern has experienced infrastructure problems and weather-related issues that have hampered well completions, but the company’s latest quarter was a big success and full-year 2014 production guidance was upgraded to between 20% and 25% growth over 2013, compared to previous guidance of 15%.

According to Northern, its 2014 second-quarter production grew 17% sequentially and 41% year-over-year to 1.4 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe), averaging 15,369 boe per day.

The company’s total oil and gas sales in the second quarter of 2014 increased dramatically to $121 million, compared to $80.0 million in the second quarter of 2013.

But management incurred a significant loss on the mark-to-market of a derivative instrument and on the settlement of a derivative instrument, which resulted in actual second-quarter revenues being knocked down to $74.6 million, compared to $96.0 million in the second quarter of 2013.

As a result of the derivative loss (perhaps the reason why the … Read More

Why Are Oil Prices Collapsing?

By for Profit Confidential

Global Economy Just Getting WeakerOil plays a critical role in economic growth as oil is used in a variety of industries. In times of economic growth, oil prices rise. When the economy is soft, or getting soft, oil prices fall as demand for oil wanes.

Over the past two months, oil prices have collapsed for the simple reason that the global economy is getting weak.

The chart below shows the steep sell-off in oil prices that started in mid-June.

Light Crude Oil-Spot Price ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

What’s interesting to note is that oil prices are falling at a time when we have numerous troubling events in the Middle East and Russia. In normal circumstances, these developments would have caused oil prices to soar.

One more chart I want to show you today (which continues to spell trouble ahead for the global economy) is the Baltic Dry Index (BDI). Since the beginning of the year, this indicator of global economic activity has been collapsing.

Baltic Dry Index ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Since January, the BDI has fallen 45%. The BDI is an indicator of trade in the global economy; the less trade in the world, the weaker the global economy.

Over the past few months, the chances of the global economy witnessing an economic slowdown have risen significantly.

As I have been writing, the eurozone is in very deep economic trouble again. Japan, the third-biggest hub in the global economy, is begging for growth. And the manufacturing and real estate sectors in the Chinese economy are slowing at a staggering rate.

The continued growth of the global economy is critical for the U.S. economy. In 2012, 46.6% of the S&P 500 … Read More

Big Growth Ahead for These Three Shale Oil Plays

By for Profit Confidential

Three Shale Oil Plays with Good UpsideI was listening to hedge fund guru and energy baron T. Boone Pickens on CNBC the other day and, as he always has, he wants to stop the flow of OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) oil into this country. This, folks, is not fiction; it is actually realistic, given the surging production of domestic shale oil and natural gas. Pickens wants to create a North American energy partnership through which the United States would align with Mexico and Canada to develop an energy conglomerate.

In my view, this makes sense, and it could perhaps drive oil prices lower, which could create a buying opportunity for investors (albeit I doubt the big oil companies would want such a thing to happen).

The oil patch is driving riches from Texas to North Dakota and Montana. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude is holding above $100.00 per barrel.

The key to energy independence will be the ability to drive shale oil production higher. Consider that in 2012, shale gas represented 39% of total natural gas production in the United States, making it the top shale oil producer worldwide, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Canada came in second at 15%. The numbers are estimated to get even bigger and with this, I see a buying opportunity.

Even the “cartel” OPEC realizes the impact of shale oil on its operations. In a report undertaken by OPEC in 2013, the cartel estimates a decline in its market share as shale oil production rises. (Source: Lawler, A., “OPEC to lose market share to shale oil in 2014,” Yahoo! Finance web site, … Read More

Why It’s Not Too Late to Enter the Hot Oil Sector

By for Profit Confidential

Oil Sector Hot Here's How to Get in on the ProfitsThe spot price of oil is holding up and there are countless oil stocks pushing their highs.

If the 1990s were the decade for technology stocks, then the 2010s are the decade for independent oil producers.

While the largest integrated oil and gas companies are struggling to grow production, mid-tier, independent producers are filling the gap, and there are countless growth stories in the marketplace.

EOG Resources, Inc. (EOG) has been a top stock market performer and is likely to continue ticking higher. The company has net proven reserves of some 2,119 million barrels of oil equivalent, of which 94% is located in the United States.

Of the company’s total 2013 production, 88% came from the U.S. and Canada, representing a nine-percent gain over 2012.

First-quarter 2014 earnings were $661 million, compared to $495 million in the first quarter of 2013.

The company’s total crude oil and condensate production rose 42% over the comparable quarter last year, and management has significant hedges, locking in oil prices just under $100.00 a barrel. Approximately 30% of North American natural gas production is hedged for the remainder of 2014 at a weighted average price of $4.55 per million British thermal units (MMBtu).

The Street expects EOG Resources to grow its revenues by about 17% this year and about seven percent in 2015.

Previously in these pages, we looked at Cimarex Energy Co. (XEC), which has been very strong on the stock market since the beginning of February. (See “Where to Find the Best Price Momentum Right Now.”)

This oil and gas growth story is slowing, but the company is still expected … Read More

The Top Risk-Capital Sector for Speculators Right Now

By for Profit Confidential

Risk-Capital Investors Should  Looking MarketDespite pent-up expectations, more reasonable pricing has returned to junior energy companies.

Earnings have caught up to share prices, and while sentiment for more speculative stocks has diminished in recent months, there’s almost some value in fast-growing oil and gas producers.

Of course, institutional investors are especially fickle and will jump ship on slowing growth. But the domestic energy boom still has legs, even in the most popular basins, and it’s as good a sector as any for speculative investors to be looking.

Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG) is a Bakken oil producer we’ve looked at a number of times in these pages. This growing energy producer operates in two Rocky Mountain basins: the Williston Basin of North Dakota and Montana, and the Green River Basin of Wyoming and Colorado.

At the company’s operation in the Williston Basin, oil is produced from multiple zones, including the Bakken shale, Mission Canyon, and Red River formations. In Wyoming, Kodiak’s asset is in the Vermillion Basin, where it targets deep, over-pressured, tight gas sands and shales.

Kodiak’s share price is about a point-and-a-half below its all-time high. It’s still a growth story and the position remains highly liquid.

The company’s 2014 first-quarter oil and gas sales soared to $257 million, up from $165 million comparatively, on 3.1 million barrels of oil sold, which represents a 57% quarter-over-quarter gain in equivalent sales volume.

Earnings were $29.1 million, or $0.11 per diluted share, up from earnings of $19.4 million, or $0.07 per diluted share.

Like many other producers operating in North Dakota and Montana, a tough winter meant a sequential quarterly decline in oil … Read More

How Past Investment Trends Predicted This Stock Market Action

By for Profit Confidential

Speculative Fervor Declines on Growing RiskIt’s just the same old story with stocks. One day they’re up; the next day they’re not.

If 2013 was a breakout year from the previous long-run recovery cycle, 2014 is a year of choppiness.

Stocks just can’t seem to latch onto any particular trend. A convolution of influences from earnings results to geopolitical events continue to beat down what positive sentiment sprouts from the data.

It’s no surprise to have choppy capital markets after such a strong year of capital gains. And that’s the thing I always try to keep in the back of my mind: stocks are about the future—a future stream of earnings discounted for every potential eventuality at prevailing rates of interest.

With downside leadership in equities provided by the high-valuation large-cap technology stocks, it’s difficult to imagine the main market indices accelerating near-term, especially as the marketplace has already voted on this earnings season.

A familiar mantra coming from a lot of Wall Street analysts is that the pace of U.S. economic activity should accelerate towards the end of the year. Several firms are calling for stronger oil prices and lower gold prices accordingly.

But if the choppy action in stocks so far this year is any guide, things are unlikely to unfold as expected. And the catalyst for downside is unlikely to be due to corporate performance or the Federal Reserve. Companies are expecting to meet existing guidance, and the central bank continues to provide a stable low interest rate environment.

Geopolitical events unfolding between Russia and Ukraine are a growing risk for investors. A “sell in May and go away” type of … Read More

Business Conditions Soft? Not for These Two Companies

By for Profit Confidential

Strong Businesses Stock MarketIf business conditions are good for a public company, then it’s highly likely that its share price has already been doing well in this great monetary expansion.

With the stock market at a high, it’s tricky being a new buyer/speculator. As we’ve seen with biotechnology stocks, the price momentum can quite suddenly come to a halt.

One sector where there is more price momentum to be had is in oil. Not so much in the large, integrated oil companies but in domestic mid-tier producers as well as services. (See “My Top Energy Pick with Market-Defying Momentum.”)

In the large-cap space, Baker Hughes Incorporated (BHI) is now experiencing renewed momentum, both operationally and on the stock market. This oil and gas equipment and services company is seeing solid sales growth in North American operations as well as the Middle East.

In spite of unusually cold weather accounting for a drop in North America’s well count, the company was able to grow domestic first-quarter sales by 6.7% to $2.78 billion. Total sales for the first quarter grew 10% to $5.7 billion, while earnings grew 23% to $328 million.

Baker Hughes has been buying back a lot of its own shares (3.4 million in the first quarter), and the stock recently began a new uptrend. The company’s two-year stock chart is featured below:

Baker Hughes ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Halliburton Co. (HAL) is also experiencing renewed operational and price momentum on the stock market.

The largest oil and gas services company by revenue is Schlumberger Limited (SLB). Its first-quarter sales grew to $11.2 billion, up from $10.6 billion comparatively.

Diluted earnings per … Read More

My Top Energy Pick with Market-Defying Momentum

By for Profit Confidential

My Top Energy Stock Pick for This Slow-Growth MarketThe strength in this market is with oil, as both the spot price and oil stocks are holding up very well.

While the broader market has been experiencing a well-deserved price retrenchment, both large- and small-cap oil stocks have been on the comeback trail. The price strength is helpful as speculative fervor continues to come out of equities. The performance illustrates how helpful sectoral portfolio diversification can be when asset prices fall.

ConocoPhillips (COP) is not expensively priced at approximately 9.5 times trailing earnings. The stock sold off significantly at the beginning of the year but has since recovered nicely. Currently yielding just less than four percent, this oil and gas story is similar to the other big integrated energy companies: it isn’t about production growth but more about income for investors.

One company we’ve looked at several times in these pages is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This is a Bakken oil play that’s really doing well. This stock was consistently expensive, being a highly liquid favorite of institutional investors, but earnings have caught up to the share price and the story is still intact. This junior energy producer still has a very bright future. The company’s stock chart is featured below:

 Kodiak Oil And Gas Corp ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Energy consistently has a role to play in equity market portfolios, and it doesn’t have to be pure-play production stories. In terms of resource investing, I find it much more attractive over precious metals, particularly for investors looking for some longevity in their holdings.

In an environment that’s likely to remain slow-growing for several years, I like both the income and capital … Read More

How to Play an Upside Breakout in Oil Prices

By for Profit Confidential

Oil Prices Are So Dependent on RussiaOil prices could be setting up for an upside break if the situation in Crimea intensifies and a military conflict emerges between Russia and Ukraine over the rights to Crimea.

Since the price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude broke out to over $100.00 a barrel in early 2011, oil prices have done very little, trading largely in a sideways channel with support in the $80.00 level and resistance around $110.00.

The global economic renewal has helped to support oil prices in spite of the continued stalling in China. Return to growth in the eurozone is also adding some support, but for oil prices to shoot higher, there really needs to be a geopolitical event, such as what we are seeing in Crimea. Of course, don’t forget the Middle East, which still has its major issues, especially with the speculation that Iran is building nuclear-enabled weaponry.

Light Crude Oil ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

There’s also the crazy dictator of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, who has continued on the same path his father was on, isolating the country. His testing of several missiles earlier this week into South Korea was just another signal that he craves attention.

At the end of the day, to make money in oil will largely be dependent on the hot spots of the world.

While I doubt Russia will launch a military assault on Ukraine, you never know with President Putin. If this should happen, oil prices would vault higher to above $110.00 a barrel, and likely maybe even higher toward the $150.00 level, last reached in 2008 prior to the subprime crisis.

So while oil prices could ratchet … Read More

Former Momentum Stocks Signpost to Sell?

By for Profit Confidential

Price Momentum Suggests Portfolio RebalancingA good amount of speculative fervor has come out of this market so far this year, but there’s still quite a bit of valuation froth around.

Across the board, 3D-printer stocks have come back. 3D Systems Corporation (DDD) still boasts a trailing price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of around 150.

Tesla Motors, Inc. (TSLA) is still going strong. It’s one of few super-hyped stocks that made a strong recovery in January after a material sell-off months before. (See “Buy High, Sell Higher: Top Investment Strategy for Buoyant Markets?”) The position just bounced off $265.00 per share. Next year, Wall Street estimates the company will do more than $5.0 billion in sales.

Looking at the stock market currently, there’s a lot of indecisiveness and geopolitical events are overshadowing the action.

Watch large-cap biotechnology stocks (or the NASDAQ Biotechnology Index) for their trading action specifically. This group of stocks reaccelerated strongly in February and is very much overdue for a material correction.

I’ve noticed several key momentum stocks within the group have started rolling over. This should be a strong contributing indicator to the short-term action unrelated to specific events happening in Ukraine.

Gold is holding up well with the geopolitical tensions, and oil prices are too, but to a lesser degree.

Stocks are due for a break. What looked like the makings of a material correction in January, equities reversed direction after the Federal Reserve, once again, reiterated its willingness to be highly accommodative to capital markets.

This kind of market (after such a strong 2013 for stocks) warrants a significant degree of caution. I wouldn’t be jumping onto any bandwagons. … Read More

If This Indicator Turns, the Stock Market’s in Trouble…

By for Profit Confidential

Factors Now Creating a Positive Backdrop for This Stock MarketWith the stock market jittery due to geopolitical events, its underlying strength is highlighted by the relative outperformance of the NASDAQ Composite, the Dow Jones Transportation Average, and the Russell 2000. If these indices are doing relatively better than the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average, then there is still an underlying strength to a market that hasn’t experienced a material correction for far too long.

The stock market has done a very good job of recovering from January’s sell-off. Certainty from the Federal Reserve, fourth-quarter earnings results that were modest but mostly met expectations, and strong corporate balance sheets are providing a decent fundamental backdrop. The stock market can have another decent year if it isn’t sidetracked by some sort of lasting shock.

The other indicator that is not directly related to the stock market but certainly is worth taking note of is the spot price of oil. Oil prices have been holding quite solidly above the $100.00-per-barrel level.

Stronger oil prices are a reflection of their own specific fundamentals, but they’re also a barometer or gauge on the part of speculators regarding future economic activity. The spot price has brought back a lot of oil stocks that recently sold off and valuations are creeping up close to previous levels (which was very expensive for Bakken oil stocks).

I maintain a positive outlook for the stock market given current fundamentals and recognize, of course, that geopolitical events can turn investor sentiment on a dime. If the stock market were to experience a substantial price correction right now, I would view it as a buying opportunity.

Earnings estimates for … Read More

Upside for Oil Appears Limited, but Investments in Oil Markets Aren’t

By for Profit Confidential

Why I Believe the Upside for Oil Is LimitedOil prices have rallied back to the $100.00-per-barrel level on some near-term supply and inventory concerns.

While the upside move is rewarding the buyers of oil stocks, I don’t think oil prices are set for an extended rally.

The chart of the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil shows oil prices bouncing higher after the formation of a bullish double bottom, based on my technical analysis. And while oil prices can head higher on the chart, I just don’t see any moves being sustainable.

Light Crude Oil ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

The catalyst for higher oil prices has more to do with tight inventories driven by a rise in demand. The inventory of oil contracted by 1.5 million barrels per day in October to December 2013, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The IEA suggests the demand for oil will rise by 50,000 barrels per day to 1.3 million barrels in 2014. (Source: Johnson, C. and Sheppard, D., “Robust demand tightening oil market, IEA says,” Reuters, February 13, 2014.) If this estimate pans out, oil prices could edge higher and hold above $100.00, but I doubt the move will last that long.

Now, if China jumps out of its sluggish growth (read “Investment Opportunities in Depressed Chinese Stocks”) and Europe can drive its economic renewal, then we could see brighter prospects for oil prices.

On the supply side, America is relying less on the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and foreign oil as American oil companies continue to squeeze more oil out of the ground, specifically shale oil.

There may even be a time down the road when … Read More

Oil Returns as Major Indicator of Capital Markets?

By for Profit Confidential

Oil Investments Back in PlayThe lull between earnings seasons will soon be here and with the absence of corporate results, trading action can get choppy.

It’s still important to follow transportation stocks and the NASDAQ Composite. Transportation stocks have a tendency to lead the broader market, and outperformance from the NASDAQ Composite (compared to the other major indices) signals speculative fervor remains.

The one commodity that’s very much back in play in terms of a reflection of investor sentiment is oil. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) has come back to the $100.00-per-barrel level on what looks like speculative betting on better economic growth this year.

There were actually quite a few disappointments in big oil’s recent financial results and production is definitely an issue. Both large-cap and small-cap oil stocks have not seen their share prices rise commensurately with oil prices, but some value is finally appearing in this sector.

One company that we looked at previously is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This is a Bakken oil play that, until recently, was expensively priced. (See “While Few See It, This Stock Sector Is Getting Risky.”)

Kodiak expects to produce 42,000–44,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) this year, which represents about a 45% gain over last year. The company’s stock chart is featured below:

Kodiak Oil and Gas Corp ChartChart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com

Kodiak reports its fourth-quarter and year-end financial results at the end of this month. Junior oil companies may see their fourth-quarter numbers affected by the severe cold in terms of the number of well completions.

While Kodiak may be considered a hold currently, this position is becoming more attractively valued. The … Read More

Despite Consolidation in Oil Sector, These Junior Oil & Gas Stocks Have Momentum

By for Profit Confidential

Oil in Consolidation, but Momentum Remains in Junior Oil & Gas StocksThose interested in the oil business will know that smaller stocks in the sector have mostly been doing very well, even as the spot price of the commodity dropped below $100.00 a barrel.

The run-up has been pronounced in a number of companies, likely in anticipation of third-quarter earnings. Oil stocks advancing on declining spot prices is a very unusual development in the resource sector. But there is definitely an appetite out there among institutional investors for junior oil and natural gas producers.

One company we looked at previously is Kodiak Oil & Gas Corp. (KOG). This Bakken oil play reports tomorrow, and expectations are high.

Wall Street consensus is for Kodiak to generate sales growth of around 150% in its upcoming quarter. Earnings have the potential to double over the third quarter of 2012.

Company management recently announced its full-year 2013 average daily production will be approximately 30,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). This compares to an average of 14,000 boepd in 2012. This year’s exit production rate is currently estimated at 42,000 boepd.

So, there’s definitely economic growth in the domestic oil and gas business due to new technology and the willingness of investors to finance junior companies.

Kodiak is trading right at its all-time record high after experiencing a meaningful consolidation throughout 2012 and the first half of this year. The stock is fully priced, which is no surprise. If oil prices were to reaccelerate, this position would be even higher.

Also reporting tomorrow is ConocoPhillips (COP), which is outperforming other big oil companies on the stock market.

ConocoPhillips spun off Phillips 66 (PSX) last … Read More

Investment Strategies for Those Bearish on Unraveling Oil Prices

By for Profit Confidential

Investment Strategies for Those Bearish on Unraveling Oil PricesHooray, gasoline prices at the pumps have declined to their lowest levels this year! Better yet, they’re looking to head even lower, as oil prices begin to unravel below $100.00 per barrel.

The level of oil reserves jumped by 5.2 million barrels for the week ended October 18, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). There are some 379.8 million barrels of oil in our reserves, and that doesn’t include those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

With the rise in reserves and lower demand due to the recent government impasse, the country is importing only 7.7 million barrels per day versus the four-week average of 8.0 million, according to the EIA. (Source: “Summary of Weekly Petroleum Data for the Week Ending October 18,” Energy Information Administration web site, last accessed October 25, 2013.)

Today, the United States is less dependent on foreign oil than at any time in its recent history. The country is producing more domestic oil specifically from the shale oil in North Dakota and Montana. (Read “Why You Shouldn’t Be Worried About Surging Oil Prices.”).

The EIA says North America is now the biggest producer of usable shale oil in the world, and it’s only going to get bigger as new technologies surface that can extract even harder to get oil. In 2012, shale gas represented 39% of total natural gas production in 2012 in the United States, according to the EIA. Canada was second at 15%.

In my view, the rapid development of shale oil will continue to lessen the country’s dependence on OPEC oil, and this is good for both the economy and … Read More

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