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Here's What Fueled Pengrowth Energy Corp's Epic 70% Surge in March

By Matthew DiLallo - Apr 5, 2016 at 9:44AM

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The Canadian oil driller caught the eye of a billionaire investor.

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What: Pengrowth Energy (NYSE: PGH) enjoyed an epic rally in March, jumping just over 70%. Fueling that rise was a rally in the price of oil and the fact that a Canadian billionaire investor bought a big stake in the company.

So what: The price of crude oil rallied 14% last month, which was its best return in nearly a year. That fueled a massive rally in oil stocks, including Pengrowth. Fueling crude oil's rise last month were reports that Russia and OPEC were working together on a coordinated production freeze. Such an effort is intended to help stabilize crude so that the market can work off its glut.

While the rising tide of rising crude oil lifted all boats last month, it wasn't the only fuel that drove Pengrowth higher. The other news of note was the fact that famed billionaire Canadian investor Seymour Schulich bought a 14.7% stake in the company. While that stake only cost him $78.4 million, it was meaningful because Schulich doesn't buy too many stocks. In fact, according to an interview he gave last year, he only owned five stocks at that time, including a 26% stake in fellow Canadian energy producer Birchcliff Energy (BIR).

It's the similarities Pengrowth has to Birchcliff Energy that are what caught Schulich's eye, which is that both have large untapped acreage positions in the Montney shale gas play. It's a play that's expected to be an important source of gas for Canada's LNG export market, which is something Schulich is very bullish on.

Now what: Despite the rebound in crude oil and the addition of Seymour Schulich as a key shareholder, nothing fundamental changed for Pengrowth last month. In particular, the company still has a lot of debt, including more than $500 million due next year. Until the company addresses that debt, or oil rises and stabilizes at a much more meaningful level, Pengrowth still faces an uphill battle, especially since its natural gas upside is years away from being realized given that not one LNG export project is even close to starting construction.

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