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Latest Valuentum Commentary
Jul 6, 2020
Berkshire Hathaway Expands Its Bet on North American Natural Gas
Image Shown: A look at the Cove Point LNG export facility in Maryland, one of half a dozen that are currently operational in the US. Image Source: Dominion Energy Inc – February/March 2018 Fixed Income Investor Meetings Presentation. On July 5, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, a majority-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, announced it was acquiring natural gas pipeline and storage assets along with an equity stake in a liquified natural gas (‘LNG’) export facility in Maryland from Dominion Energy Inc. This deal is valued at $9.7 billion by enterprise value and is expected to close by the fourth quarter of 2020. We continue to like Berkshire Hathaway in the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio.
Jul 6, 2020
Interview with Valuentum’s Callum Turcan
Callum Turcan helps head up Valuentum’s research product and is co-editor of the company’s newsletters. We sat down with Callum to get his thoughts on new developments in the market and economy. Let’s kick things off with his thoughts on the recent Berkshire/Dominion deal.
Jun 16, 2020
Exxon Mobil Puts on a Brave Face
Image Source: Exxon Mobil Corporation – November 2019 Guyana IR Presentation. Near-term oil prices and most importantly, the oil price futures curve, have improved materially since just a couple of months ago when it looked like the sky was falling. For the first time ever, WTI turned negative in April 2020 for physical deliveries due May 2020 of light sweet oil to Cushing, Oklahoma, as storage options were limited (and arguably, many speculators had jumped into the market not fully aware of the risks they were taking on). Exxon Mobil Corp has seen its share price recover considerably since the drop, though we caution that management’s commitment to the dividend will prove a hard task if things do not improve materially in the short-term. As of this writing, near-term futures for WTI and its international counterpart Brent are trading near $40 per barrel. In the face of COVID-19, low raw energy resource prices (Exxon Mobil’s upstream operations form its largest single business segment), and subdued demand for refined petroleum and petrochemical products (from gasoline to plastics) have significantly weakened Exxon Mobil’s cash flow profile. The ongoing coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic has shaken energy markets to their core in ways we have not seen ever before. Shares of XOM yield ~7.4% as of this writing. We give Exxon Mobil a Dividend Cushion ratio at 0.2, though its Dividend Safety rating is “GOOD” given the company’s ability to tap capital markets, especially debt markets as the oil giant carries high quality “A-rated” investment grade credit ratings. There is a limit to how much debt Exxon Mobil can take on to cover its dividend obligations, however, which we will cover in greater detail in this article.
Jun 11, 2020
5 Years Later – #ThrowbackThursday on MLPs
Since Valuentum warned against the significant risks of the MLP business model June 11, 2015, on a price basis, the Alerian MLP ETF has fallen by more than 65%, while the S&P 500 has surged nearly 50%. There have been dozens and dozens of explicit (or phantom) MLP distribution cuts since we released our thesis 5 years ago to this day, and many MLPs have subsequently simplified their business models, rolling up into C-corps, as we predicted.
Apr 20, 2020
Our Reports on Stocks in the Oil & Gas Pipeline Industry
Image Shown: Valuentum's thesis on MLPs prior to their collapse in mid-2015. Our reports on stocks in the Oil & Gas Pipeline industry can be found in this article. Reports include ENB, ET, EPD, KMI, MMP.
Apr 13, 2020
Historic Oil Deal Reached
Image Source: Chevron Corporation - March 2020 Security Analyst Meeting Presentation. Over the Easter holiday weekend, members from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (‘OPEC’), non-OPEC members that are part of the OPEC+ group (countries that in the recent past have joined forces with OPEC to curtail global oil supplies in a formal manner), and non-OPEC members outside of the OPEC+ group such as Brazil, Canada, and the United States came to an agreement to cut their collective oil output by north of 10 million barrels per day. Global oil and other raw energy resource prices have been simply demolished year-to-date due to a combination of demand destruction from the ongoing coronavirus (‘COVID-19’) pandemic and the emergence of a price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Please note that oil demand destruction due to the “cocooning” of households (and the related drop off in refined petroleum product demand from automobiles, airplanes, etc.) may be as high as 35 million barrels per day according to some analysts, an enormous figure that’s resulting in major stockpile buildups all over the world. Other analysts don’t necessarily see the level of demand destruction as that high (projections are being updated constantly); however, they are still calling for a drop off in demand that’s in the ten(s) of millions of oil barrels per day range (at least in the short-term, depending on how long the pandemic lasts). Even if this agreement is effectively implemented, that won’t result in oil prices (and other raw energy resource prices) returning to pre-COVID-19 levels in the short/medium-term, in our view, but will make emerging from this pandemic an easier task given that global oil storage capacity is nearing its limit. As of this writing on April 13, oil prices are trading up modestly but are still down by well over 50% year-to-date.
Mar 20, 2020
Stress in the Oil & Gas Industry Grows as Major Energy Exporters Hunker Down
Image Shown: WTI is down almost 61% over the past year as raw energy resources prices were decimated by the news that OPEC and non-OPEC members couldn’t reach another production curtailment deal in early-March 2020. Upstream capital expenditures are coming down aggressively in the US shale patch and elsewhere, and just as importantly, even the bigger firms are throwing in the towel and scaling back their ambitions. Exxon Mobil has recently pledged to make material cuts to its capital expenditure budget, while Chevron is considering such a move, as are others. It will take a lot more than that to stabilize raw energy resources pricing given the demand destruction caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with many households in major demand regions (namely the US and Europe) now “cocooning” in their homes to wait out the crisis. That’s on top of an expected surge in oil supplies from OPEC and non-OPEC nations, with an eye towards Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Russia. We caution our members to not catch a falling knife here.
Mar 11, 2020
Worst in Energy Not Over, Stay Away from Leveraged Enterprises, Seeds of Financial Crisis Sown?
Image Shown: The energy and banking markets continue to be experiencing pain. Since we removed the Energy Select Sector SPDR (XLE) and Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) from the Best Ideas Newsletter portfolio and Dividend Growth Newsletter portfolio, the XLE has fallen more than 50% and the XLF has fallen 13%, while the SPY has held up roughly 2%. We continue to believe staying away from energy and financials/banks will be a source of significant alpha.These are challenging times. The oil price swoon has complicated an already-dire situation with COVID-19. We’re seeing cracks in the credit markets, and the European banking system is far from healthy. The US banks may face knock-on impacts from energy loan defaults and hold significant counter-party risk from their European brethren, which have breached post-Lehman lows. We’re doubtful any fiscal stimulus will stave off this crisis, and it may just set up the markets for the next leg down, if Congress ends up in a stalemate. We will continue to keep our members informed on the state of global energy markets as more information becomes available, but we think avoiding energy and banks/financials will continue to be a source of alpha. We removed the XLE and XLF from the newsletter portfolios in August of last year. We’re reiterating our 2,350-2,750 target range on the S&P 500.
Mar 9, 2020
Oil Markets Get Decimated
Image Shown: Oil prices have been decimated year-to-date. The outlook for independent upstream names has become dire. In an industry that’s generated little to no free cash flow since 2010, and instead has relied heavily on capital markets to stay afloat; for all the hype surrounding surging US production of raw energy resources there hasn’t been much shareholder value creation to show for it. Consumers and certain US states have been big winners, sure, but equity holders and now potentially credit holders have largely taken it on the chin. We will continue following the space for our members going forward, and please note there’s a very good reason we removed the Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF from our newsletter portfolios back in August 2019 (link here), the outlook for the energy space (particularly oil & gas) was lackluster at the time and has since become dire.
Mar 9, 2020
Oil Prices Collapse, Reiterating 2,350-2,750 S&P 500 Target Range; Credit Crunch Looming?
From Value Trap: “The banking sector was not the only sector that faced considerable selling pressure during the Financial Crisis of the late 2000s, of course. Other companies that required funding to maintain their business operations faced severe liquidity risk, or a situation where refinancing, or rolling over debt, might be difficult to do on fair terms, making such financing prohibitive in some cases. Those that faced outsize debt maturities during the most severe months of the credit crunch faced a real threat of Chapter 11 restructuring had the lending environment completely seized. In thinking about share prices as a range of probable fair value outcomes, equity prices tend to face pressure as downside probabilities such as a liquidity event are baked into the market price and at a higher probability. Because debtholders are higher up on the capital structure than equity holders, shareholders can sometimes get nothing in the event of a bankruptcy filing. Entities that are extremely capital-market dependent, or those that require ongoing access to new capital to fund operations, often face the greatest risk of the worst equity price declines during deteriorating credit market conditions.” Value Trap: Theory of Universal Valuation, published 2018
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The High Yield Dividend Newsletter, Best Ideas Newsletter, Dividend Growth Newsletter, Nelson Exclusive publication, and any reports, articles and content found on this website are for information purposes only and should not be considered a solicitation to buy or sell any security. The sources of the data used on this website are believed by Valuentum to be reliable, but the data’s accuracy, completeness or interpretation cannot be guaranteed. Valuentum is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for results obtained from the use of its newsletters, reports, commentary, or publications and accepts no liability for how readers may choose to utilize the content. Valuentum is not a money manager, is not a registered investment advisor and does not offer brokerage or investment banking services. Valuentum, its employees, and affiliates may have long, short or derivative positions in the stock or stocks mentioned on this site.