2014 is Going to Be a Big Year for One Oil Producer in the Bakken

Want to know what Kodiak Oil & Gas' (NYSE: KOG  ) New Year's resolution is? Make a ton of money for its investors.

A new year, a new budget
Talk is cheap, practically free. The big question is how will Kodiak Oil & Gas deliver?

If you take a look at Kodiak's 2014 budget, there are two things that pop right out if you have been following the company for a while. The first thing to take note of is how much Kodiak is going to spend next year.

Take a little off the top
This year Kodiak Oil & Gas spent ~$1 billion to grow production by 123% year over year (as of its last quarter), which helped Kodiak become consistently profitable. Kodiak is now raking in more than $200 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization a quarter.

The second thing that pops out in Kodiak's press release is that 2014 will continue to bring production growth, even as Kodiak spends $60 million less on capital expenditures. Some $940 million will allow Kodiak to complete 100 net wells in the Bakken, similar to 2013 levels, while allocating $50 million for further acquisitions and infrastructure build outs. Those wells will allow Kodiak to boost output by 45% next year.

This is where Kodiak Oil & Gas' resolution kicks in. If Kodiak can keep growing production, yet spend $60 million less to complete the same number of wells, then its bottom line will explode.

Some math
Keep in mind that this is a simplification of what could happen, but bear with me. If you take that $60 million and divide it by four quarters, you get $15 million a quarter. Also, assuming production growth roughly parallels that of earnings, Kodiak will grow its bottom line by $96.3, if margins and received oil prices remain constant.

The $96.3 million plus $15 million is $111.3 million. Divide $111.3 million by $214 million and Kodiak could grow its EBITDA by 52% in 2014. While plenty of other factors could change this growth rate one way or the other, the general idea is that Kodiak Oil & Gas could post earnings growth of ~50% in 2014.

Approximately 50% earnings growth is nothing to laugh at, especially when Kodiak trades at a Price-to-Earnings ratio of 24x. This is why investors should consider Kodiak Oil & Gas for their portfolio, as it is a great Bakken growth story that still has plenty to give.

A cherry on top
The production and earnings story looks promising for Kodiak Oil & Gas, but there are other things to be excited for as well.

Kodiak's revolving credit line was increased by $250 million to $1.3 billion, which allows for Kodiak to grow beyond its cash flow and repay the debt later with larger production.

16 > 12
In 2013, the big story for Kodiak was its downspacing tests in the Smokey and Polar areas, which both yielded good results. Kodiak was able to successfully bring 12 wells online in both areas on just one unit. This downspacing utilization allowed Kodiak to tap into more benches of the Bakken and Three-Forks plays, which maximizes the amount of recoverable oil on its acreage.

Management saw the impressive figures coming out of each play and decided to push onward with its downspacing efforts. Just east of the Polar area, Kodiak Oil & Gas is going to try and complete 16 wells on one 1,280 acre unit. The unit will contain four pads each with four wells, which Kodiak has stated will tap into each bench of the Bakken and Three-Forks.

Two of those wells will be devoted to the lower bench of the Three-Forks. Plenty of wells in North Dakota have been completed that don't tap into the lower part of the Three-Forks. Now some exploration and production players are waking up and realizing that the Three-Forks could hold much more oil than previously expected.

"America's oil champion"
According to its website, Continental Resources (NYSE: CLR  ) is "America's oil champion." Regardless of whether or not that's true, Continental Resources did complete the first high-density project in the Bakken that tapped into each bench of the Bakken and Three-Forks plays.

The Hawkinson downspacing project is proof that there is much more oil in the Bakken and Three-Forks than previously expected. A while ago, Continental Resources saw 24 billion barrels of recoverable oil equivalent. Now Continental Resources sees the amount of recoverable oil equivalent ranging from 32 billion to 45 billion barrels, depending on the recovery rate.

If Continental Resources is able to tap into the lower Three-Forks benches successfully with its three other downspacing projects, maybe it could one day become "America's oil champion." Until then, Continental Resources will be working side by side with Kodiak Oil & Gas as oil producers, as both companies try to maximize their acreage on what could be one of the biggest oilfields in the world. 

Foolish conclusion
Kodiak Oil & Gas has had a stellar 2013 with triple-digit earnings and output growth. Going into 2014, Kodiak will continue to grow substantially with double- digit earnings and production growth. Considering Kodiak's low valuation versus its growth prospects, I would definitely recommend this stock to investors looking for Bakken exposure. 

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Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (0)

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  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 10:34 AM, ChuckXX wrote:

    I prefer CLR myself.

  • Report this Comment On December 27, 2013, at 11:31 AM, amvet wrote:

    I disagree with the analysis.

    (1) If the $2.19B debt costs 6% interest, $131MM per year will vanish to interest.

    (2) The Bakken oil production decline rate is around 70% or more the first year.

    (3) The sweetest spots have already been drilled, therefore projecting that new wells will be as productive as the older wells is not justified.

    (4) Debt needs to be reduced not increased.

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