With oil prices slowly on the rise and the recent announcement that OPEC is finally electing to curb its production, the level of optimism around the oil industry is higher than it has been in a long time. Investors may want to start looking at buying oil stocks. If you are unsure where to look, though, we have you covered.
We asked three of our contributors to highlight a stock they think is a great investment in the oil industry this month. Here's what they had to say.
The right balance of mergers, acquisitions, and cost-cutting
Suncor, which generates the majority of its business from its oil sands production in Canada, has largely underperformed its peers in 2016 on account of the devastating Fort McMurray fire in Alberta in May that temporarily shut down its operations. During the second quarter, Suncor produced a net loss of $735 million and noted that the forest fires reduced oil production by approximately 20 million barrels. The forest fires also had an adverse impact on its refining business, with reduced throughput at its Edmonton refinery.
However, I'd opine that this miserable quarter is the perfect reason to consider by a broken stock, not a broken business model, which was devastated by an unfortunate, yet one-time, event.
If we look at the bigger picture, Suncor Energy is making plenty of moves that should have long-term investors smiling.
On one hand, Suncor is working to reduce its costs in an environment where crude prices have fallen dramatically. The company is on track this year to reduce its capital budget by $750 million, and it's actively engaged in divesting non-core assets. During the second quarter, Suncor announced that it would be divesting its lubricants business, which could wind up fetching as much as $800 million over the next year. It also, despite the Fort McMurray Fire, maintained its per-barrel oil cost forecast at $27 to $30, leaving enough of a buffer to remain profitable even at today's prices.
On the other hand, Suncor has solidified its production in the oil sands by purchasing a majority stake in Murphy Oil's Synacrude, and acquiring Canadian Oil Sands earlier this year for what amounts to about $3.2 billion. Given these substantial investments in the oil sands region, Suncor shoud be able to boost production by approximately 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. Even with the dilution investors experienced leading up to the Synacrude stake, the long-term benefit of this added production should have investors excited about Suncor Energy's future.
With more than $2 in full-year EPS expected by 2019, and nearly $6 in cash flow per share, Suncor could be the definition of "black gold."
The company that helps producers get more for less
Jason Hall: Core Laboratories N.V. (NYSE:CLB) provides technical analysis and expertise that helps oil and natural gas producers get the most out of their oil and gas deposits. Whether it's more efficiently developing a new field, or improving the recovery of resources from existing wells, Core's proprietary technology and expertise is valuable to oil producers all around the world. And the recent announcement that OPEC, which controls about one-third of global oil output, is ready to lower its output could be a big boost for Core.
On the surface, it may not sound good for Core Labs that some of the world's biggest producers are planning to back off on their production. But where this is good for Core is OPEC's motivations: increasing the price of oil. If OPEC's plans make it past the boardroom and actually reach the oilfields, crude prices are almost certain to start going up. And when that happens, it's a certainty that tight formation producers in North America will increase investment in developing reserves here. And that's good for Core.
Furthermore, even OPEC nations' capping output will likely be good for Core, assuming that oil prices do increase. After all, we are about two years into the downturn, and spending to maintain production around the world has fallen below sustainable levels. Higher prices are likely to lead to increased maintenance spending, which is also good for Core.
But the bottom line is this: Whether OPEC's output cut happens or not, Core remains a very important company to the oil patch given its role of helping maximize resource development. But once oil prices do start climbing higher, Core should be one of the biggest winners.
Strong and steady dividend stock
Tyler Crowe: Typically a company of Holly Energy Partners' (NYSE:HEP) size doesn't lend itself as well to being a stable dividend-paying stock like much larger companies in the pipeline and energy infrastructure business. What Holly lacks in size, though, it makes up for in other aspects of its business.
Unlike so many others in this industry that mostly protect themselves from commodity prices, Holly completely protects itself from commodity prices by generating 100% of its revenue from fee-based contracts and are mostly covered by minimum volume commitments. It also helps that the assets that Holly Energy Partners owns are centered around either delivering crude to its parent company, refiner HollyFrontier (NYSE:HFC), or transporting and storing the refined products from HollyFrontier's facilities. These kinds of assets that are driven by the demand of a consumer rather than the supply of a producer are much more stable in terms of volume and are less likely to see declines like field-gathering lines owned by many others.
The other thing that's working in Holly Energy Partners' favor is that its managers have taken a much more conservative approach to growing its business and growing its payout. While total investment dollars are modest compared to others -- Holly Energy's 2014-2017 capital budget is in the $400 million to $450 million range -- that spending a high impact, as the company expects to grow EBITDA by 50%. That will most definitely help the company keep its streak of 47 consecutive dividend increases intact.
With shares trading at a lucrative dividend yield of 6.8%, it seems like October is a great month to look at picking up shares of Holly Energy Partners.