Shares of upstart liquefied natural gas exporter Tellurian Inc. (NASDAQ:TELL) rose 12% in May. While a large percentage of the gain came after the company reported earnings, there wasn't exactly much in the earnings report that would get Wall Street excited one way or the other.
Here's the thing with Tellurian: It doesn't have any revenue-generating assets yet. The company is the brainchild of Cheniere Energy (NYSEMKT:LNG) founder and former CEO Charif Souki. He brought along some of his previous team at Cheniere including Tellurian CEO Meg Gentile, who was the former CFO and executive vice president of marketing at Cheniere and was responsible for signing customers up for those lucrative 20-year take-or-pay contracts that underpin the investment thesis in Cheniere today.
On May 10, the company reported its earnings, but it was more of an investor update than an actual earnings report. In it, management recapped some of its most recent accomplishments including obtaining approval to export LNG to countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement and that a proposal has been sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to obtain approval for constructing and operating its proposed Driftwood LNG facility. Finally, management laid out a rough timeline that expects construction to start one year from now and full operations by 2022.
The only other thing that happened this past month was a proposed public share offering, but that proposal was immediately rescinded the next day. Management said that it was the wrong time to do a share issuance because of "the current market environment," which is an admission that its stock price is too low to justify an equity raise.
If Tellurian gets approval for its LNG facility, then it will need to raise some money for construction. That will either come from the issuance of debt or equity. That said, the company doesn't have to do it today, so opting to wait for a better stock price isn't a bad idea.
For any investor looking at this stock, keep in mind that this is going to be a bumpy ride. It is also important to watch for significant milestones: long-term contracts that cover a majority of production capacity, approval to sell to non-free trade agreement countries, and a construction process that stays on schedule and on budget. As long as the company can hit these milestones, then Tellurian could be a decent stock to keep on your radar.