Feb. 28, 2014, 2:48 PM
- Refiners mostly continue to languish after shares were hammered yesterday as the Brent-WTI spread narrowed to its tightest level since last October.
- Credit Suisse isn't too excited about the near-term outlook; while March-April could see some widening of the spread given the transfer of inventory from Cushing to the Gulf, summer crude spreads should remain tight given as East of Rockies refineries ramp up for peak gasoline demand.
- On individual stocks, the firm says Western Refining (WNR -3%) and Phillips 66 (PSX +0.1%) should benefit from other businesses, while Tesoro (TSO +1.1%) could benefit from being recognized as a “Gulf Coast Refiner” but Delek US (DK -3.5%) needs to show signs of earnings improvement before it's worth buying.
- ETFs: XLE, ERX, OIH, VDE, ERY, DIG, DUG, XES, IYE, IEZ, PXJ, PXI, PSCE, FENY, FXN, RYE, DDG.
Feb. 27, 2014, 3:46 PM
- Oil refiners are getting hit today as Brent crude falls to its lowest price in more than a week on rising tensions in Ukraine, shrinking the premium to West Texas crude to the narrowest level since October.
- Given Ukraine’s location, the country's situation obviously will impact Brent more than WTI; meanwhile, WTI’s losses are limited after U.S. government data yesterday showed crude supplies at Cushing, Okla., declining to a four-month low.
- Phillips 66 (PSX -2.8%) has dropped 3.5% YTD, while Delek US (DK -5.3%) has plunged 17%, Valero (VLO -4.3%) has slipped 3.8%, Holly Frontier (HFC -3.1%) has fallen 8.2% and Marathon Petroleum (MPC -4.4%) is off 8.5% in 2014.
- Other decliners today: TSO -1.5%, ALJ -5.4%, WNR -4.2%, CVI -3.4%, CLMT -0.7%.
- ETFs: USO, OIL, UCO, SCO, DBO, DTO, BNO, CRUD, USL, DNO, UWTI, SZO, DWTI, OLO, OLEM, TWTI
Feb. 26, 2014, 9:46 AM
- Yesterday's U.S. government emergency order requiring tests of crude oil on trains prompts confusion as refiners and producers try to understand what the new requirements will mean to their operations and how broadly they will apply to shipments.
- "What do you want us to test for?” says Alon USA Energy's (ALJ) director of supply, trading and business development. "I’m not really sure what this means or what they expect from us."
- Tesoro’s (TSO) VP of development, supply and logistics says he isn’t sure what new procedures were being mandated since the company already tests crude shipments.
- Continental (CLR), the biggest producer of Bakken crude, praises the government’s effort to improve crude-by-rail safety.
- More Bakken names: EOG, WLL, HES, KOG, OAS, NOG, EOX, MRO.
Feb. 21, 2014, 10:54 AM
- Tesoro (TSO +0.8%) has barred federal authorities from going inside its Golden Eagle refinery in California to investigate an incident in which two workers were burned by acid spewing from a broken pipe, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
- State officials ordered a partial shutdown of the refinery near Martinez following a Feb. 12 incident after inspectors with California’s workplace safety agency found numerous suspected safety violations.
- TSO officials say the incident was minor and does not qualify under the rules for a federal investigation.
Feb. 12, 2014, 12:38 PM
- Chevron (CVX -0.4%) is still struggling to contain a fire at a natural gas well in Pennsylvania after yesterday's explosion that injured one worker and left another missing.
- The well fire is having an impact on CVX's Marcellus Shale operations; the company said last night that it has cut back on its operations in the region to dedicate personnel and resources to respond to the incident.
- Meanwhile, two workers have been injured at Tesoro's (TSO -0.6%) Martinez refinery in California, and a production unit has been shut down.
Feb. 6, 2014, 4:59 PM
- Tesoro (TSO) says it is replacing older cars in its crude-by-rail fleet to consist entirely of newer and safer CPC 1232-compliant rail cars, after evaluating rail car safety features.
- TSO says it also will make rail car design a part of its commercial considerations with all business partners who may ship crude oil into company-owned facilities.
- The upgrade comes after several explosive crashes that involved trains moving crude oil; TSO receives up to 50K bbl/day of Bakken crude at its 120K bbl/day refinery in Anacortes, Wash.
Feb. 6, 2014, 9:45 AM
- Tesoro (TSO -4.8%) opens sharply lower after Q4 results missed estimates as a result of lower refining margins, higher stock-based pay and a loss related to the sale of a refinery.
- Operating income in the refining and retail segment fell to $152M vs. $406M for the year-earlier period, driven primarily by a weaker margin environment across all operating regions.
- Although TSO processed more crude oil and other feedstocks in the quarter, its gross refining margin fell to $9.45/bbl vs. $15.11 in Q4 2012.
- Manufacturing costs rose to $392M vs. $239M in the year-ago quarter.
- TSO suffered lower refining margins, especially in the core California region, but it's a positive that the company’s balance sheet remains strong with $1.2B in cash, Wells Fargo says.
Feb. 5, 2014, 5:57 PM
Jan. 10, 2014, 2:40 PM
- Chevron's (CVX -1.9%) earnings guidance isn't impressing investors; it expects Q4 profit to be "comparable" with Q3 when it posted net income of $4.95B, but analyst consensus had estimated Q4 to come in at $5.69B.
- Unlike last year, when CVX’s refining business was a drag on earnings while its upstream business was strong, now refining is providing the boost - good news for Exxon Mobil (XOM +0.1%) and refiners, Morgan Stanley says.
- MS thinks most U.S. refiners will show a Q/Q improvement in capture rates, helping XOM more than CVX due to its significantly more absolute North American refining capacity; marketing margins also are improving sharply, a positive indicator for refiners with retail operations such as Marathon Petroleum (MPC), Tesoro (TSO), Phillips 66 (PSX), Western Refining (WNR) and Delek US (DK).
Jan. 8, 2014, 2:45 PM
- A potential collapse this year in domestic crude prices could push refiners higher, including Phillips 66 (PSX -0.3%) and PBF Energy (PBF +0.7%), Howard Weil says.
- "From a global perspective, macro [refining & marketing] dynamics are improving into ’14 with significant crude supply growth placing a theoretical ceiling on oil prices/feedstock costs while underlying demand growth remains intact, thereby supporting product prices," the firm writes.
- However, the firm endorses a slight tactical shift toward more defensive posturing with a focus on lower beta names and companies that screen at a discount from a valuation perspective, thus it cuts Delek US (DK -3.4%) and Tesoro (TSO -2%) to Sector Perform and raises PSX and PBF to Sector Outperform.
- Noble Energy (NBL -0.2%), Whiting Petroleum (WLL -0.2%) and Concho Resources (CXO -1.3%) are upgraded to Focus Stock.
Dec. 31, 2013, 3:56 PM
- The energy sector - especially refiners - leads the stock market higher today even as crude oil trades lower, with Phillips 66 (PSX +3.2%) contributing to the strength after Berkshire Hathaway agreed to acquire its flow improver business (I, II).
- Berkshire's acquisition would seem to point to the next logical step for Warren Buffett’s empire building in the energy sector: investing in pipelines and, at the other end, the refineries that stand to benefit most from them.
- Today's refining stalwarts: VLO +3.7%, MPC +3.8%, HFC +2%, TSO +3.4%, WNR +3.1%, CVI +2.9%, ALJ +2.8%, NTI +2.8%.
Dec. 24, 2013, 2:12 PM
- Energy stocks have underperformed this year, but Merrill Lynch analysts are reasonably positive on the sector for 2014, pointing to some key themes:
- With the price of gas likely to remain in a narrow range next year, the firm says investors should buy high-quality, large resource-based stocks such as COG and RRC.
- The net asset value race is over, and the coming year is about execution, ML says, seeing PXD and WLL as winners here.
- Following 2013's wave of activism, the firm sees gains in HES and OXY.
- Favorable outlooks for E&P budgets could lift oilfield services stocks focused on North America, such as HAL and SLB.
- The ML team sees crude production rising to the highest level since 1989, and pinpoints TSO and VLO as the refiners to benefit the most in 2014 because they're crude-advantaged and have stock-specific catalysts.
- Finally, the firm suggests investors with significant gains in CVX may want to take those and buy XOM for 2014.
Dec. 20, 2013, 3:18 PM
- Shrinking crude spreads - WTI has gained 7.2% while Brent has risen just 1.7% so far in December - likely will hold back refiners during the first six months of 2014, Cowen's Sam Margolin says.
- Extremely favorable refining conditions from last month are deteriorating amid higher utilization and continued reduction in crude imports, limiting supply and causing U.S. prices to melt higher, the firm explains, adding that investors need to "manage near-term expectations" while "remain(ing) constructive on the refining story for 2014."
- Margolin keeps Outperform ratings for Western Refining (WNR +4%), Marathon Petroleum (MPC +2.6%), Tesoro (TSO +0.4%), Valero (VLO +1.4%) and PBF Energy (PBF +1.7%); HollyFrontier (HFC +2.4%), Delek (DK +2.3%), Northern Tier (NTI +0.6%), Alon USA (ALJ +1.7%) and Calumet Specialty Products (CLMT +3.8%).
Dec. 20, 2013, 11:49 AM
- With the threat of more supply hanging over the market, Credit Suisse narrows its list of top energy stock picks for 2014 to those that can truly have top upside gains in 2014.
- Chevron (CVX) is the only major domestic integrated on the Credit Suisse list; it may be looking to expand domestic production by acquiring one of the top E&P stocks, CS says.
- Phillips 66 (PSX) and Tesoro (TSO) are the firm's best-liked refiners.
- The firm's three favorite E&P names - PDC Energy (PDCE), Diamondback Energy (FANG) and EOG Resources (EOG) - were all considered takeover candidates during 2013.
- Among oil services companies, the firm thinks Halliburton (HAL) is making a strong comeback in the North American drilling market.
- Offshore driller Rowan (RDC) should roughly double its EBITDA in two years, CS says.
Dec. 11, 2013, 12:52 PM
- Tesoro (TSO -1.8%) apparently didn't offer enough good news at yesterday's analyst day, as shares tumble despite the general perception from the meeting as "incrementally positive."
- The key messages in the meeting surrounded progress of the synergy capture from the Carson acquisition, continued margin improvement through feedstock and product optimization and driving additional logistics growth.
- TSO sees rail unloading capacity along the U.S. west coast for North Dakota crude oil growing to nearly 1M bbl/day through 2015; TSO's $100M rail-to-barge project in Washington is the largest of the offloading projects announced so far.
- Imperial Capital raises its TSO price target TSO to $63 from $57, and Howard Weil lifts its target to $66 from $62.
- Other refiners are lower too: VLO -1.3%, PSX -0.7%, MPC -1.8%, WNR -2.6%, HFC -1.6%, ALJ -1%, NTI -0.2%, DK -1.9%, CLMT -2.7%.
Dec. 9, 2013, 10:47 AM
- J.P. Morgan is the latest investment banker to turn bullish on refiners, upgrading HollyFrontier (HFC +2%), Valero Energy (VLO +1.8%) and Marathon Petroleum (MPC +0.9%) on its expectation for a larger difference between Brent and West Texas oil prices.
- The firm revises its view on oil prices, forecasting Brent prices averaging $105.50/bbl for 2014 and $100.30 for 2015 vs. WTI prices of $91.50/bbl for 2014 and $85.30 for 2015, suggesting a $14-$15 differential, which should increase U.S. refining margins.
- In particular, the firm believes HFC's inland refining system is "well positioned to benefit from growth in production of disadvantaged inland North American crudes, and expect(s) HFC to capture Brent-WTI price differentials as higher gross margins across the majority of its throughput."
- HFC is upgraded to Overweight from Underweight, VLO and MPC are raised to Neutral from Underweight, and Phillips 66 (PSX +1.5%) and Tesoro (TSO +1.2%) are maintained at Overweight.
TSO vs. ETF Alternatives
Tesoro Corp is an independent petroleum refiner and marketer in the United States. Its subsidiaries operate through three business segments, transport crude oil and manufacture, transport and sell transportation fuels.
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