While Fools should generally take the opinion of Wall Street with a grain of salt, it's not a bad idea to take a look at particularly stock-shaking analyst upgrades and downgrades -- just in case their reasoning behind the call makes sense.
What: Shares of Triangle Petroleum (NYSEMKT: TPLM) fell 2% today after Global Hunter Securities downgraded the unconventional shale oil and natural gas explorer from buy to neutral.
So what: Along with the downgrade, analyst Mike Kelly reiterated his NAV-based price target of $10, almost exactly where the stock closed yesterday. So while momentum traders might be attracted to Triangle's price strength in recent months, Kelly's call could reflect a sense on Wall Street that the risks surrounding the company's growth trajectory are being largely overlooked.
Now what: According to Global Hunter, Triangle's risk/reward trade-off isn't too appealing at this point. "[W]e believe that TPLM will have to show that its acreage is capable of generating top-quartile returns in the Bakken in order to warrant upside beyond our price target," said Kelly. "On this front, TPLM's very best quarter of well results on record has yielded 90 day cumulative rates of 55.5 Mboe, which is lower than EOG's Q4:13 average 90-day cum's of 127 Mboe in its Core and Antelope Fields (not all Bakken is created equal). Additionally, TPLM's average well cost in 2013 of $12.38MM ($348MM for 28.1 net wells and excludes the money paid to its RockPile subsidiary), tells us that the economics will quickly become marginal with a pullback in crude prices." When you couple those risks with Triangle's still-hefty debt load and highly volatile shares, it's tough to disagree with Global Hunter's cautiousness.