Proppant producer Hi-Crush Partners (NYSE: HCLP ) beat Wall Street estimates on both earnings and revenue, which sent its stock higher. The company, which is structured as an MLP, sees the good times continuing as it anticipates stronger demand for its product in the future. With that as context, let's take a closer look at this past quarter and find out what investors can expect in the future.
Digging into the numbers
Hi-Crush reported revenue of $27.1 million, which crushed estimates by $5.13 million or more than 23%. That enabled the company to beat on the bottom line, too, as it delivered net income of $14.7 million or earnings per unit of $0.53, which was $0.03 higher than analysts were expecting. What's more important for investors is that the company was able to deliver distributable cash flow of $15.6 million, which was more than enough to cover its $0.475 per unit distribution for the quarter.
Two areas really drove the beat this quarter. First, the company's recently completed D&I acquisition delivered $0.025 per unit of income despite closing with just 19 days left in the quarter. In addition to that, the company delivered record production levels of sand proppants this past June thanks to increased demand from its customers. Combined, these two trends really bode well for the future of Hi-Crush.
One area that's really driving demand is increased proppant intensity by producers, which is the amount of proppants used to frack each well. For example, Pioneer Natural Resources (NYSE: PXD ) noted that it is using lower-cost white sand -- which is what Hi-Crush mines -- in much greater volumes to frack its Eagle Ford wells. Not only is it saving about $1.1 million per well over ceramics, but its seeing production results that are just as good. That's one reason why it is planning to continue increasing both the amount and intensity of the sand it uses as a proppant, which is also why sand is now its proppant of choice.
In one sense this is bad news for a company like CARBO Ceramics (NYSE: CRR ) , which makes ceramic proppants. However, the industry as a whole is increasing proppant intensity and has a massive potential for future wells, meaning that there also is plenty of room for CARBO to profit. In fact, some plays like the Bakken have found better success with ceramics, so it appears that proppant preference will be on a basin-by-basin basis. The bottom line though is that proppant intensity should continue to rise as more wells are drilled:
Speaking of basins, Hi-Crush's move into the Marcellus and Utica though its acquisition of D&I appears to be very well timed. It noted that it saw "striking results from producers in the Marcellus and encouraging well results from producers in the Utica." Overall, the demand for future proppants in the region looks really solid and speaks well for the company's future.
Final Foolish thoughts
Hi-Crush is in the right place at the right time to really benefit from long-term proppant trends. As a low-cost leader, this income-focused MLP should deliver solid distributions to investors for years to come. Even though its business might be sand, it is rock solid, and therefore so is its distribution to investors.
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