Thu, Apr. 30, 8:15 AM| Comment!
Wed, Apr. 29, 9:14 AM| Comment!
Fri, Apr. 10, 5:17 PM
- The EPA agrees to issue final biofuel quotas for 2014 and 2015 under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard by Nov. 30 in a tentative settlement of an energy industry lawsuit which had challenged EPA delays in establishing the mandates.
- Refiners and biofuel producers have complained that the EPA's repeated delays in setting renewable fuel use requirements have led to uncertainty and volatility in biofuel markets.
- Refiners are required under the RFS to blend a certain amount of biofuels into gasoline and diesel based on the targets established by the EPA; potentially relevant tickers include VLO, TSO, PBF, PSX, ALJ, MPC, WNR, HFC, CVI.
- Biofuels producers also crave the certainty and market demand guaranteed by the annual targets, but they believe the EPA should not back down from setting aggressive renewable fuel quotas; potentially relevant tickers include REGI, FF, AMRS, GEVO, CDTI, SZYM, OTCPK:KIORQ.
Tue, Apr. 7, 6:11 PM
- Energy firms are expected to have the worst earnings decline thanks to the plunge in oil prices, and Barclays' Paul Cheng expects U.S.-based oil majors to report in-line with consensus but sees refiners posting more varied results, with some widely missing the mark.
- Cheng believes PBF Energy (NYSE:PBF) and Western Refining (NYSE:WNR) could see the biggest potential downside surprises, and Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) possibly delivering the biggest upside surprise.
- On MPC, Cheng thinks 2015 should be a relatively low maintenance year after two years of heavy turnaround cycle; based on MPC’s posted market data, he sees the company’s Q1 refining margin realization averaging $17-$19/bbl vs. his estimate of $17.1/bbl, while retail margins remain better than Q1 2014 levels.
Mon, Apr. 6, 4:59 PM
- U.S. workplace regulators are probing accident data reported by Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) at its Galveston Bay refinery in Texas, where the worst U.S. refining accident of the last 30 years occurred under former owner BP, in response to concerns that safety practices implemented after the 2005 deadly accident are being rolled back.
- MPC confirms to Reuters that "OSHA initiated an investigation regarding the proper classification of a handful of incidents," although OSHA probes are fairly common and this one does not necessarily mean the agency believes there has been wrongdoing.
Mon, Apr. 6, 8:14 AM
- Striking United Steelworkers at Marathon Petroleum’s (NYSE:MPC) Catlettsburg oil refinery in Kentucky are expected to return to work today for the first time in more than two months after workers approved a new labor agreement Friday.
- Catlettsburg was among the first seven USW refinery locals that went on strike beginning Feb. 1 - which later grew to 12 sites accounting for ~20% of U.S. refining capcity - after talks between the union and oil companies broke down without a new national oil bargaining pattern; a tentative national agreement, subject to ratification by local union chapters, was reached on March 12.
- Negotiations over local issues such as policies on overtime have delayed returns to work, and local unions and companies are still negotiating at BP sites in Indiana and Ohio, MPC's Galveston Bay refinery in Texas City, Texas, and LyondellBasell’s (NYSE:LYB) site, in Houston.
Thu, Mar. 26, 10:59 AM
- Cowen analysts see plenty of room to go in gains for the refinery sector, and moves up Q1 earnings estimates for across the firm's coverage universe.
- Cowen acknowledges that while crack spreads should start moving back to normal levels as industry maintenance winds down after April, margins are still strong, and many expect one of the largest-ever travel seasons this summer.
- The six stocks rated Outperform at Cowen are Delek (NYSE:DK) with a $43 stock price target, Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) with a $120 target, PBF Energy (NYSE:PBF) at $35, Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) at $90, Valero (NYSE:VLO) at $70 and Western Refining (NYSE:WNR) with a $60 price target.
Wed, Mar. 25, 5:45 PM
- The difference between the price of oil and the gasoline made from it would be bad news for U.S. refiners if the spread shrinks, but Cowen analyst Sam Margolin and Jason Gabelman offer three reasons why they’re not worried.
- With valuations remaining attractive, the analysts see three themes emerging to carry continued outperformance in refineries: positive consumer fuel demand response to lower prices, sustained crude oversupply into the fall turnaround period, and midstream consolidation and growth as a shareholder-friendly use of cash.
- The analysts have Outperform ratings on VLO, TSO, MPC, WNR, PBF and DK; only WNR failed to finish with a solid gain in today's trade.
Wed, Mar. 18, 3:24 PM
- Crude oil prices, in the doldrums yet again after U.S. inventories hit record highs for a 10th week and supplies at the futures' Cushing delivery hub hit a peak, turned around to finish higher following the Fed policy statement.
- Nymex crude rose 2.5% to settle at $44.66/bbl, pushing off earlier lows of $42.25 and the lowest intraday level since March 2009; Brent is up 4.5% at nearly $56.
- The gain could prove only a momentary recovery, however, as "speculation is going to grow about operational capacity being hit in Cushing and what that portends for prices,” according to Again Capital John Kilduff, adding that he sees U.S.crude testing $40 soon.
- U.S. refiners are enjoying big gains as the Brent/WTI spread surpasses $11: TSO +5.1%, CLMT +4.7%, CVI +4.8%, HFC +4.6%, MUR +4.5%, WNR +4.4%, VLO +3.9%, RDS.A +3.9%, CVRR +3.7%, MPC +3.3%, PSX +3.2%, ALJ +3.2%.
- ETFs: USO, OIL, UCO, SCO, BNO, DTO, DBO, UWTI, USL, DWTI, DNO, SZO, OLO, TWTI, OLEM
Wed, Mar. 18, 12:44 PM
- United Steelworkers union members who have been on strike at the Motiva recovery in Port Arthur, Tex. - the largest in the U.S. - ratified a final contract last night, and workers are expected to return to their jobs next week after walking off their jobs on Feb. 21.
- The union also says workers at three Tesoro (TSO +2.1%) refineries on the west coast have made progress in finalizing contracts, with return-to-work agreements - usually the final step before ratification votes - under discussion.
- Union negotiators reached an industry-wide agreement to settle the strike with lead refinery rep Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) last Thursday; Shell is a co-owner of Motiva.
- The union says BP, Lyondell Basell (NYSE:LYB) and Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) "continue fights on tough local issues."
Tue, Mar. 17, 2:58 PM
- Oil refinery stocks are not as expensive as they look, Deutsche Bank analyst Todd Ryan writes, as he recommends buying Valero Energy (NYSE:VLO), Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC), Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) and Phillips 66 (NYSE:PSX).
- After stripping out implied MLP-related valuations, Ryan finds "reasonable" stock price multiples at ~5.0x, in line with average levels seen in late 2013 and early 2014; more importantly, revisions are likely to remain a steady tailwind, with nearly 10% upside to 2015 EBITDA estimates using fairly conservative assumptions of $5/bbl Brent-WTI for 2015.
- With an overall healthy refining backdrop, a healthy Q1 EPS setup as estimates look low, and higher investor appreciation for the retail business with comps trading at ~1.5x turns above the five-year average, Ryan sees further upside for the group over the near term.
Mon, Mar. 16, 4:59 PM
- A tentative national agreement to end the six-week U.S. refinery strike has struggled to win ratification at eight plants as workers and companies try to settle local issues, union reps say.
- The deal reached Thursday by the United Steelworkers and lead industry negotiator Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) to end the biggest walkout of its kind in 35 years appears to be showing signs of quick passage at just four plants.
- Workers at four plants that are owned or co-owned by Shell, which include three Motiva Enterprises refineries, have scheduled or are expected to hold votes this week to ratify the agreement and could be back at work next week, but local labor talks are stalled at other plants.
- Other relevant tickers: TSO, BP, MPC, LYB, OTCQB:HUSKF
Thu, Mar. 12, 3:59 PM
- Negotiators for the United Steelworkers union have tentatively accepted a deal from Shell Oil (RDS.A, RDS.B) to settle the six-week-long strike that has affected refineries and chemical plants across the U.S., a USW statement says.
- The deal still requires approval of the union’s international policy committee and the local union representing workers at Shell’s Deer Park, Tex., refinery before it goes to a vote of union members nationwide.
- The union and Shell, which is representing the industry in the talks, had been in talks since Monday.
- Relevant tickers: TSO, BP, MPC, LYB, OTCQB:HUSKF.
Thu, Mar. 12, 2:12 PM
- Negotiators from the United Steelworkers union and Shell Oil (RDS.A, RDS.B) are continuing to meet today, part of a four-day stretch of negotiating that is the longest the two sides have met since the strike began Feb. 1.
- In a sign that union negotiators may see a deal coming, the Steelworkers sent a message last night to members that the union’s policy committee is traveling to Houston to be available to review any proposals that come out of the talks.
- The dispute started initially with nine facilities but has since expanded to 15 refineries and chemical plants across the U.S., affecting TSO, BP, MPC, LYB, OTCQB:HUSKF and Shell.
Tue, Mar. 10, 11:37 AM
- U.S. coastal refiners "could be a shore thing" for investors, Credit Suisse says, noting that the group can buy domestic crude when it is too cheap or profit from discounted waterborne barrels.
- Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) is "leading the charge," the firm says; with more than 350K bbl/day of crude capacity offline in a finely balanced market with growing vehicle miles traveled, west coast margins have spiked and could remain elevated for some time.
- PBF Energy (NYSE:PBF) is upgraded to Outperform from Neutral, as it is a key beneficiary of low crude prices, an oversupplied crude market for mediums and heavies, plus leverage to WTI domestic pricing.
- Phillips 66's (NYSE:PSX) target price is raised to $100 from $85, as Credit Suisse believes the longer-term upside looks strong and intact.
- Among others in the group, the firm says Marathon Petroleum’s (NYSE:MPC) self-help is underestimated, and Valero’s (NYSE:VLO) rising cash returns to shareholders and Delek’s (NYSE:DK) rising free cash flow should drive a re-rating of their equity.
Wed, Mar. 4, 3:28 PM
- Even as U.S. refiners and striking union workers returned to the bargaining table today for a new round of talks, the two sides appear to be digging in for a protracted struggle that could last through the spring.
- Royal Dutch Shell (RDS.A, RDS.B) said Monday that by midsummer its Deer Park refinery in Texas will be fully staffed with newly trained employees who are not affiliated with the United Steelworkers union, and added that ~20% of striking workers at the plant have defied the union and returned to work.
- Workers also have begun returning to their jobs at refineries owned by Shell and Saudi Aramco JV Motiva Enterprises, and LyondellBasell (NYSE:LYB) and Tesoro (NYSE:TSO) also say a growing number of employees are coming back to work.
- LYB said yesterday it had filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging the union had threatened and harassed people trying to cross picket lines.
- The union has filed its own complaints to the NLRB in recent weeks, alleging Shell, LYB, TSO, BP and Marathon Petroleum (NYSE:MPC) have engaged in unfair practices, including threatening and coercing workers and failing to bargain in good faith.
MPC vs. ETF Alternatives
Marathon Petroleum Corp is a supplier of gasoline and distillates to resellers and consumers. Its refining, marketing and transportation operations are concentrated in the Midwest, Gulf Coast and Southeast regions of the U.S.
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