Chevron (NYSE:CVX) has decided to fight against New York attorney Steven Donzinger, who might have used fraudulent means to win a case in Ecuador against the company. The company was asked to pay $18 billion as compensation because of contamination and environmental damage caused by Texaco, a company it bought it 2001.
Chevron accuses the attorney and a group of Ecuadorians of having bribed officials in Ecuador in order to win the case. If Chevron manages to escape a ruling in US courts, its position will become stronger and consequently, it will become more difficult for Ecuadorians to seek the hefty $18 billion compensation. Chevron claims to have enough evidence to prove that the Ecuadorian judge Nicolas Zambrano not only accepted bribes but also let Donzinger write the judgment himself. Chevron's evidences depend on Alberto Guerra, a former Ecuadorian judge who initially assisted Zambrano. Donzinger and the Ecuadorians have vehemently denied the allegations.
One can't certainly say who is lying and who is speaking the truth, but investors must bear in mind that it doesn't really matter what the ruling will be. Whether Chevron wins are loses, it will continue to be an attractive investment option. Here are 5 reasons why Chevron continues to be an attractive investment option even if it loses the case:
The Supreme Court in Argentina ruled in Chevron's favor after having frozen the company's assets in the country. Chevron is now able to explore, drill and operate in Argentina without any hassles. Argentina was one of the first countries to side with Ecuador.
Brazilian prosecutors reached an agreement with Chevron a few weeks ago. According to the accord, instead of the $17.5 billion initially claimed for an oil spill in November 2011, Chevron will have to pay up only $130 million, a fraction of what it had to pay earlier.
Chevron is going to kick-start its first LNG facility in Kitimat, Canada's West Coast. The Duvernay shale play is one of the largest in Canada and holds a great deal of promise.
Lithuania has often passed laws that are unfriendly towards oil companies. Chevron had won several concessions in the Baltic nation, but its environmental laws and high taxes proved to be deal breakers. Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius announced a few days ago that his country will try to revise some of the existing laws, which may lure Chevron back to the country. As Lithuania seeks to distance itself away from Russia, it needs the help of companies like Chevron, and lenient laws are likely to follow.
A week ago, Romania announced that it too would allow Chevron to explore and drill within its borders. The Transylvanian nation is a newcomer to the oil industry, and Chevron seems to be its preferred choice to develop its fledgling shale gas industry.
It is not just Chevron which has had to fight cases with respect to fines. Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS.A) and British Petroleum (NYSE:BP) both had to not only fight cases, but also pay hefty fines. Shell was asked to pay $5 billion for the Bonga field rupture which caused 40,000 barrels of oil to spill. The country's National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency also suggested that Shell must pay $3 billion for a rig explosion. However, it was later said that the fines were not legally backed, and Shell only needs to clean up the spillage.
British Petroleum, on the other hand, may have to pay $18 billion in fines for the Deepwater Horizon disaster. BP admitted that it was unprepared for the disaster and much of the fault was its own. It also admitted that its only plan was to plan. British Petroleum has faced a huge media backlash after the accident, and its reputation has suffered after the disaster.
With a market cap of $228 billion and an enterprise value of $225 billion, Chevron is one of the largest companies in the world. Its PEG ratio is 1.42, which suggests that it is currently in the overvalued territory. However, with a revenue of $213 billion and a total cash of $22 billion, it is a mammoth of a company. Moreover, Chevron has never been clumsy about its legal dealings and has consistently won most of the legal battles, including the ones in Argentina and Brazil, where it avoided paying $17.5 billion. If Chevron wins the New York suit, it stands to avoid paying $18 billion. Even if it loses, the 5 reasons I have stated make Chevron a very attractive investment option.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.