EOG Resources (NYSE:EOG) recently reported second-quarter results. As it always does after releasing results, the company's management team held a conference call with analysts and investors. In concluding his prepared remarks, CEO Bill Thomas offered five important takeaways for investors in the independent oil and natural gas producer.
First, EOG is focused on returns. EOG's high return production growth is showing up as strong growth in cash flow, net income and through increasing ROE and ROCE metrics. ... EOG is well-positioned to be a long-term leader in returns on capital in the energy sector.
Over the past four years, EOG Resources has had the highest annual organic crude oil growth within the large-cap exploration and production sector. The company expects to continue delivering best-in-class growth through at least 2017. However, this isn't growth for the sake of growth. The company's cash margins, as the following slide notes, have gone from $20.04 per barrel of oil equivalent, or BOE, in 2010 to $43.31 per BOE this past quarter, so growth is clearly boosting the bottom line.
Second, EOG is a growth leader and it's organic. EOG's estimated 2014 oil growth on a barrel per day basis is greater than any other company in the peer group and this growth is all organic. We have the assets and the inventory depth to sustain this growth. ... Growing oil as we did 33% in the Lower 48 this quarter is a remarkable achievement.
Since 2009, EOG Resources has grown its crude oil production by a compound annual rate of 39%. As the following chart points out, the company has now passed Occidental Petroleum (NYSE:OXY) and Chevron (NYSE:CVX) to become the oil production leader in the lower 48 states.
Uniquely, EOG Resources has achieved this growth without buying smaller rivals or asset packages. That stands in comparison to peers such as Devon Energy (NYSE:DVN), which bought its position in the Eagle Ford shale. Instead, EOG has achieved its surging oil production growth from the hard work of its exploration program. The program will fuel the company's next phase of growth: EOG has already added five new crude oil plays this year, which has extended its drilling inventory at the current pace from 12 years to 15 years.
Third, exploration and technology focus, we've again increased our high return drilling inventory on existing acreage with the addition of the Second Bone Spring Sand. We also reported good preliminary down spacing results from the Leonard A and B zones. The Second Bone Spring Sand and the Leonard Down spacing results are two examples of how EOG generates new plays through exploration and the use of in-house technology.
EOG Resources is finding ways to get even more oil from its existing assets by testing new zones, as well as improving techniques that enable it to drill wells closer together. As the following slide shows, it has nearly cut the spacing of its Leonard shale wells in half, while also enjoying improved oil production.
By continually improving its operations, EOG can create more value from each acre within its portfolio. This has enabled the company, for example, to boost its net potential reserves in the Eagle Ford shale from 900 million BOE in April 2010 to 3.2 billion BOE this past February without acquiring additional acreage.
Fourth, we're committed to generating long-term value for our stockholders. We increased the dividend on the common stock for the second time this year. This combined with net debt reduction has been our plan for discretionary cash flow.
EOG has grown its oil production substantially over the past few years. However, the company hasn't forgotten its shareholders. It boosted its dividend by 33% in February and then by 34% this month, illustrating the company's focus on returning a growing portion of its cash flow to investors.
Finally, our return on growth profile is unique. ... Based on 2014 estimates we are at the head of the class in terms of combined production growth and financial returns among all upstream sectors including the majors, integrateds and independents. That's a powerful statement and our IR slide (see below) is quite impressive regarding financial returns and we plan to maintain this lead by continuing to reinvest in high rate of return oil plays.
EOG Resources wants investors to know that its returns are better than major oil companies such as Chevron, as well as integrated peers like Occidental Petroleum and even pure independent exploration and production peers like Devon Energy. Furthermore, as the slide below notes, its returns continue to improve as its organic oil growth program delivers strong returns.
EOG Resources doesn't just want to be the fastest-growing oil company in the United States, it wants to be the best. That's why it is focused on using technology and its exploration program to create as much value as possible within its existing acreage. So far it's doing an admirable job, and nothing would suggest that it won't continue leading the way.