U.S. crude oil climbs 3.2% to $52.45/bbl after EIA data showed that refiners processed a record amount of crude and that supplies fell at the Cushing, Okla., storage hub.
U.S. refiners churned 17.1M bbl/day of crude into fuel last week, the highest weekly figure going back to 1982, while Cushing stockpiles, which have been rising in recent weeks, fell by 579K barrels.
Prices recovered after initially falling in reaction to a higher than expected rise in total crude oil inventories to 4.1M barrels, and U.S. production jumped to more than 8.9M bbl/day during the week, the highest read since April.
But analysts say the stockpile gains largely were driven by an increase in oil imports, which rose to their highest level since 2012 as shipments of crude that were delayed at the end of last year for tax purposes are starting to appear.
Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ) +10.4% premarket after Delek US Holdings (NYSE:DK) agrees to acquire the remaining 53% of outstanding shares it does not already own, in an all-stock deal with an equity value of $464M based on Friday's DK closing price of $12.13/share.
The enterprise value of the deal is ~$675M, including $152M of debt; the companies say the enterprise value of the combined entity will total ~$2.8B.
With margins high, many refiners have delayed routine work over the past couple of years to run flat out, but now pipe fitters and ironworkers are in short supply amid a glut of billion-dollar projects, including liquefied natural gas export terminals from Cheniere (NYSEMKT:LNG) and a new petrochemical unit for Dow (NYSE:DOW).
U.S. refiners are expecting to spend $1.26B on planned maintenance next year, a 38% increase and the highest level since at least 2010, according to IIR -- but IIR also expects the Gulf Coast region to be short about 37,400 craftsmen needed to complete all the planned projects.
This week’s Colonial Pipeline explosion and shutdown (I, II, III) looks like another weight for the refining sector which already is pressured by gasoline stockpiles that are holding on to historic highs for this time of year, with a glut left over from the summer, WSJ reports, and traders now expect supplies in the Gulf Coast and southwest to build up, stranded without a fully operational Colonial.
Delek US (DK -3.9%) and Alona USA Energy (ALJ -7.3%) are the week's biggest losers so far, down ~10% in just two days, and Valero Energy (VLO -1.8%) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC -3.1%) also are sharply lower; the pervasive pessimism even drags down some that may benefit from Colonial’s problems, such as east coast refiner PBF Energy (PBF -2.4%), which has given back some of yesterday's gains.
Refiners also continue to face rising costs for crude sold in later months and renewable fuel credits, as well as signs that the stabilization in gasoline prices has caused U.S. consumers to pull back on rapid demand growth.
Alon USA Energy (NYSE:ALJ) +12.4% premarket after confirming it received a buyout offer from Delek US Holdings (NYSE:DK) to acquire all ALJ's outstanding common shares at a fixed exchange ratio of 0.44 shares of DK stock for each outstanding share of ALJ.
ALJ's Special Committee, which says it has reviewed a number of strategic alternatives, intends to consider DK's proposal and determine how to respond.
Oil refiners have lagged to the point that “value signals are getting investors interested," Credit Suisse says while cautioning that it wants to see global product inventories drawn down before buying shares, and the process is only just getting started.
Nevertheless, the firm upgrades Tesoro (TSO +0.8%) and Alon USA Energy (ALJ +2.4%) to Outperform from Neutral, joining Marathon Petroleum (MPC -1.1%) and Western Refining (WNR +0.5%) as its favorites names in the group, while stressing that November-January is the typical entry point.
Meanwhile, Credit Suisse downgrades PBF Energy (PBF -4.3%) and Delek USA (DK -3.6%) to Neutral; PBF has the largest macro sensitivity to refining and RINs, which are depressing PBF earnings at a time when net debt has been elevated after the Torrance and Chalmette acquisition, the firm notes.
Delek US Holdings (DK -1.8%) and Alon USA Energy (ALJ -0.1%) are initiated with Buy ratings, with respective $23.50 and $10 price targets, at Citigroup, which says a potential merger of the two companies seems increasingly likely and could unlock value.
DK already owns a 48% stake in ALJ and recently sold its retail assets to COPEC, raising sufficient funds to acquire the remaining 52% stake via cash, Citi says.
Besides the synergies in procurement of crude and marketing of products, the firm says the clearest synergy is $71M that ALJ outlined in EBITDA that could be dropped into DK’s MLP, a value that alone represents 100% of ALJ’s market cap.
Israel's Delek Group (OTCPK:DGRLY, DK) is considering New York, London or Amsterdam for an IPO of its stake in the Tamar natural gas field valued at $3B-$4B, Bloomberg reports.
Delek has held talks with HSBC and JPMorgan Chase on a plan to spin off its 31% stake in the offshore field into a special-purpose company and sell shares on one of the overseas bourses, according to the report.
Delek has five years to sell its Tamar holdings as part of an agreement reached with the government last year to resolve monopoly concerns.