Investors should love it when companies outperform their own guidance. If a company is guiding for 10% growth and then grows at 20%, not only does it bode well for the short term, but also for the long term.
If the company can beat short-term estimates, that means it is all the more likely to beat long-term growth estimates as it can invest the additional cash flow back into the business.
One fast-growing player in the Bakken that recently updated investors on its production volume is Kodiak Oil & Gas (NYSE:KOG). Kodiak reported that it was producing 35,400 boe/d at the end of the third quarter.
This is huge because it represents 123% year-over-year growth and is up 54% from a quarter ago. The cherry on top is that crude oil made up 90% of production and grew faster than natural gas production.
This is great news, Kodiak's growth story is still well intact. Even better is that management is already beating its own guidance of 30,000-34,000 boe/d for 2013. Kodiak has an upcoming earnings release where it will update investors on one of its pilot projects, the Smokey play. Due to the stellar results this quarter investors should expect to hear good things during the conference call.
Kodiak has shown investors it can grow, but what it also has shown us is that the growth story is far from over. If Kodiak can beat its triple-digit growth projections three months ahead of schedule, just imagine what it will be able to do with future 12 well downspacing projects combined with more cash flow. Kodiak has been rewarded by investors this year, with the stock up 46% YTD.
Not the only one
Kodiak isn't the only small-cap E&P player raising guidance. Carrizo Oil & Gas (NASDAQ:CRZO) is also hopping on the growth bandwagon.
Previously Carrizo saw production hitting 10,600-11,200 bpd in 2013, but that was blown away as investors cheered on higher production.
Carrizo was producing 11,747 bpd in the second quarter of 2013. Now Carrizo sees third quarter production hitting between 11,800-12,200 bpd. This has given investors much love for this stock and is why it's up over 100% YTD.
Carrizo's higher levels of production enable it to invest that additional cash flow into operating more rigs and further pushing up production. Just like with Kodiak, Carrizo has a big chance of growing faster than previously expected over the next few years.
Why is there so much love?
Both of these companies have seen some great returns this year as production roars higher. Why is it that investors are showing so much love for these two companies? Because when growth goes up not only does the fundamental picture get better, not only does the long-term growth rate increase, but there also is a chance for valuation expansion.
If investors were willing to pay $10 a share for a company growing at 10% annually, they definitely will be willing to pay more for that company if it started growing at 20% annually.
Beating estimates is good, but companies need to do more than that to show they have long-term growth prospects. Originally Kodiak was going to operate only six rigs for most of 2013 and was only going to spend $600 million. Now Kodiak is spending $1 billion this year and is operating seven rigs. This will allow Kodiak to bring more wells online and increase its rig count further with the additional cash flow.
For Carrizo, even though its capex is 3% less than last year, it is still seeing 45% production growth. This is due to better drilling techniques increasing the amount of recoverable oil per well.
Previously, after 720 days Carrizo's wells would have produced 450,000 boe, but now its wells produce 550,000 boe in that same time period. Carrizo is devoting all of its focus to the Eagle Ford and is selling off non-core assets to increase its liquidity and pay down debt. Recently it sold off $268 million in the Barnett Shale, East Texas, and the Marcellus Shale.
Kodiak's plan to increase well completions through larger capex and more rigs is the best way to go and is why it has been beating guidance by a long shot. Anyone who wants a high-growth play with limited amounts of risk should look into Kodiak as a possibility.
Carrizo is focusing on the liquid-rich Eagle Ford, a great way to boost growth. Carrizo's asset sales will help it pay down debt as well.
Callum Turcan owns shares of Kodiak. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.