Thursday, September 17, 2015

More Lies from Magnum Hunter Resources?

The price of Magnum Hunter Resources (MHR - $0.52) soared more than 70% to $1.33 per share on August 10 when the Marcellus/Utica NG driller announced intent to farm-out certain undeveloped and unproved oil and gas leasehold acreage currently held by a wholly-owned subsidiary.

The putative deal was to be structured so that cash-starved MHR would receive – in total – an infusion up to $430 million to co-develop acreage located in the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale in Monroe and Washington Counties, Ohio from this un-named venture capital fund.

Following the achievement by the fund of the greater of (i) a 12% internal rate of return on invested capital and (ii) a 1.20x multiple on invested capital, 100% of the Fund’s working interests in the acreage would automatically revert to Triad, save for a non-operated working interest of 10% by the fund. 

These days, Magnum Hunter seems to be “growing a tree of falsehood from a small grain of truth (Polish poet Czeslaw Milovz).”

Similar to the supposed asset sale of its Eureka Hunter pipeline, this joint venture looks more like another desperate act of dissimulation by management: the regulatory filing stated that a definitive agreement would be executed within “the next 30 to 45 days.”

Come September 25, investors will find out if Gary Evans & company are dealing in truths or lies.

Editor David J Phillips holds a financial interest in the stock mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Does Magnum Hunter Resources Have a Winning Bid - or Not?

Management of Magnum Hunter Resources ($0.67) said on the August 5 earnings call that a decision on the Eureka Hunter pipeline asset sale was "imminent."

Direct quote: "We've gotten three more bids now – or three total bids. We're expecting more over the weekend and this week. And so we will pick a horse probably by the end of the next week or at the latest the beginning of the following."

It's now September and no deal has been announced -- and the stock price continues to hit new lows. Whom should investors believe - Gary Evans, the CEO of this struggling Marcellus/Utica NG driller or selling shareholders?  At present, a sagging share price suggests "no deal."

Gary Evans, "come on down" and prove to Wall Street you do have a winning bid for your showcase.

... And on a related note: According to a recent SEC filing, as MHR struggles to maintain solvency it hands over the keys to a company-owned residence in Marietta, Ohio to employee, Jim Denny, a former MHR executive at Triad Hunter, an Appalachian subsidiary,

Editor David J Phillips holds a financial interest in the stock mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking at Southcross Energy's 21% Yield? Don't

At  $7.50, the share price of Southcross Energy Partners (SXE) offers a 21.3% dividend yield. Income investors who have stopped to sniff around this midstream master limited partnership, however, might want to pick up their piggy banks and keep walking.

The majority of its revenue is derived from fixed-fee contracts, which have limited direct exposure to commodity price levels. Nonetheless, the continued slowdown in producer drilling activity is crippling income, as most sales are based on volumes of natural gas (gathered, processed, treated, compressed and transported). In the most recent quarter ended June 30, sales fell 14.3% to $167.2 million.

Southcross Energy is highly leveraged, carrying total debt more than ten times trailing twelve-month EBITDA of $48 million. A continued deterioration in financial performance suggests the mouth-watering $1.60 dividend (per share) is likely to be materially slashed – if not eliminated in its entirety.

Management hinted as such in the recent second-quarter 10Q filing: “our forecast indicates a shortfall in the amount of consolidated EBITDA (as amended in May 2015) necessary to remain in compliance with the consolidated total leverage ratio of our Financial Covenants.”

The company will need to raise at least $35 million to cure this deficiency.

Weak market fundamentals augur a dividend cut will be high on any list of necessary executed actions. 

Editor David J Phillips does not hold a financial interest in any stocks mentioned in this article. The 10Q Detective has a Full Disclosure Policy. 

Friday, May 01, 2015

Looking for Value? Start with Truth-Telling at EXCO Resources

Wow! How refreshing to witness a senior executive immune to the “Bullsh-t Syndrome” (the commonplace corporate condition where imaginary events are presented as fact). C. John Wilder, who recently joined EXCO Resources' (XCO - $2.05) Board of Directors as Executive Chairman, had this to say on the Q1 earnings’ call about challenges currently facing the natural gas producer amid low energy prices:

  • “EXCO is highly levered. The company's net debt to market cap of 72% and net debt to EBITDA 4.3x are simply not sustainable. We have annual cash interest fixed costs of $107 million. We must improve these metrics, and that will take both time and ruthless execution.
  • EXCO has underutilized gathering and firm transportation commitments of approximately $90 million per year. Of this amount, approximately $40 million isn't used at all. This is a critical problem, which will require commercial ingenuity to solve.
  • EXCO's net drilling inventory is inadequate. EXCO suffers from a lack of a high networking interest locations with a current average operating net working interest across the shale portfolio of 35%, we're essentially a contract driller. We need to reposition the portfolio to average 60% to 75% net working interest. EXCO has a highly qualified operational team, and needs more economic interest in its project.
  • EXCO's drilling and completion costs are too high. EXCO has made progress reducing drilling and completion costs, but we still need to reduce cost by an additional 15% to 20%. This is our number one objective and we will require lean manufacturing practices across the portfolio.
  • EXCO's corporate G&A is simply too high for its drilling program. EXCO needs to book NPV from drilling of about 5X its corporate overhead. Today, NPV accretion is about equal to annual G&A. To fix this, we need to improve both sides of the equation, reducing G&A and increasing the amount of NPV generated by drilling.
If Wilder can execute on survivability and value creation through operational efficiencies, EXCO could be well-positioned to capitalize on the current commodity cycle – and yield significant gains for risk-tolerant investors when forward gas & oil price decks move higher.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Oil Glut Doesnt Mean U.S. Running Out of Crude Storage Capacity

Although the U.S. rig count has fallen dramatically, reaching the lowest level since April 2011, domestic crude output continues to soar. At last count, total US crude stocks stood at 468 million barrels, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA) report issued on March 13.

Seizing the theme that petroleum production from conventional and shale deposits has yet to show signs of a slowdown, the collective media narrative portends an apocalyptic future where “U.S. oil glut will fill storage” – leading to a classic Econ 101 supply-demand model where the price of crude collapses to $10 to $20 a barrel.

The IEA says the principal storage hub in Cushing, Ohlahoma held 49.2 million barrels by end-February, equating to 70% of total working storage capacity at the nation’s largest hub.

Given ballooning crude stocks, is America truly running out of places to store all this crude?

Contrary to the vatic utterances by headline seeking “talking heads,” we are not running out of storage capacity – and E&P companies will not be forced to sell crude at give-away prices.

In “The Truth about U.S. Crude Storage,” a percipient Robert Rapier, managing editor at Energy Trends Insider, reminds us that Cushing isn’t the only place crude oil is stored:

“If Cushing continues to fill, oil producers will start looking at some (of those) other areas to store their crude. And with 200 million barrels still available, oil producers could continue to add a million barrels a week for nearly 4 years before crude oil storage is actually full,” says Rapier.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Linn Energy's Price Decline to Accelerate

Attracted to Linn Energy’s (LINE-$10.93) turnaround potential (share price is off 62.5% from its 52-week high) and 11.2% payout ($1.25 dividend/share)? Think again.

In only one of the last four years has LINE been able to cover fixed charges, including dividend payments: Earnings were insufficient to cover fixed charges by approximately $457 million and $696 million for the year ended 2014 and 2013, respectively.

Like operating profits, asset valuations could prove illusory, too. LINE has spent more than $30 billion to acquire working and royalty interests in producing U.S. basins holding total proved reserves of 7.2 Tcfe, allegedly worth an estimated $12.5 billion in (discounted) future cash flows. Allegedly because the calculus driving this valuation assumes natural gas and oil prices of $4.35 MMBtu and $95.27 per barrel.

Given the precipitous decline in commodity prices, investors should expect further massive “non-cash” impairment charges – which could hinder LINE’s ability to finance future capital needs:  buried under $10.3 billion in debt, the company has “limited unpledged assets” to put up as collateral for needed borrowings.

New drilling programs to be funded with capital from Blackstone will do little to clean up LINE’s anemic balance sheet and liquidity issues: Assuming constant capital spending and distributions over the next three years, analysts estimate net debt to EBITDAX ratios could increase to 6.8x by year end and up to 7.1x by year-ending 2016 (as higher priced hedges roll off and cash flow declines).

If LINE is to survive, look for that 11 percent dividend yield to vanish like the value of its hydrocarbon assets. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

EU Kicks Can on Greek Debt Down the Road -- Again

Eurozone finance ministers demonstrated their continued lack of resolve by kicking the can down the road – again: an agreement has been reached to extend Greece's financial rescue by four months.

This action sends yet another message that Europe (EU) lacks resolve: politically [Ukraine and the Islamist jihad problem] and economically [Greece]. 

The European Central Bank must stop supporting fundamentally flawed and weak economic institutions and let “Grexit” move forward.

Is the ECB afraid letting Greece fall will hasten the unraveling of both the EU and the Euro? Or, could it be the politically-connected are using influence to prevent billions in bond portfolio write-downs?

As Greece and the troubles of other EU economies demonstrate: fiat currencies are a joke. Might it be time to revisit the Gold Standard?  

For those too young to remember: the Gold Standard is a monetary system that fixes the prices of sovereign domestic currencies in terms of a specified amount of gold. Under the gold standard, a government is legally limited as to how much paper money it can print. A bankrupt country lacking hard reserves to back up its paper currency would lose license to print and put into circulation even more worthless currency.

The Gold Standard effectively came to an end last century when Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Richard Nixon severed the formal links between global currencies and hard commodities (to prevent a run on the U.S. dollar).

What institutional holders of sovereign European debt will not acknowledge publicly is that the EU is in a death spiral. How ironic that the Germanic leader Odoacer overthrew  
Romulus, the last of the Western Emperors in the divided Roman Republic, in 476 C.E. Today, too, the fate of the European experiment (EU) lay in the hands of another German, Chancellor Angelica Mercer.