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Mon, Jul. 28, 12:40 PM
- Refiner stocks are dropping, in line with the margin squeeze that could result from the drop in crude oil prices, Barron's Dimitra DeFotis writes.
- Rising violence in Libya continues to affect energy assets, but attempts for peace between Israel and the Palestinians over the weekend may be taking some of the risk out of energy markets; Brent prices are down nearly 1% to $107.76/bbl, narrowing the spread with West Texas crude, off 0.3% to $101.74.
- ALJ -3.3%, TSO -1.6%, WNR -0.9%, HFC -0.8%, VLO -0.6%, PSX -0.4%, MPC -0.2%.
Fri, Jul. 11, 3:18 PM
- Citigroup analyst Faisal Khan says he is moving toward a more bullish view of the U.S. refining sector after a bout of selling amid low expectations.
- Khan points to continued growth in U.S. and Canadian oil production, "sticky" oil prices due to Middle East volatility, U.S. oil price differentials that are "somewhat contained" at $5-$10/bbl, and headway on refining closures in the Atlantic basin that is only a matter of time.
- As a result, the Citi team upgrades Marathon Petroleum (MPC +2.2%) to Buy from Neutral, as well as HollyFrontier (HFC +2%) to Neutral from Sell on valuation, but downgrades Alon USA Partners (ALDW -0.8%) to Neutral on the belief that Midland-Cushing differentials have peaked.
- Valero Energy (VLO +1.7%) and Western Refining (WNR +2%) remain the firm's favorites - VLO because it sees “crude-on-crude competition on the U.S. Gulf Coast resulting in greater feedstock discounts at Valero’s high conversion refineries," and WNR for its restructuring potential.
Mon, Jul. 7, 3:27 PM
- Western Refining (WNR +1.9%) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral with a $55 price target, raised from $43, at Citigroup, which sees a potential restructuring helping to unlock shareholder value.
- Citi believes WNR could restructure into a holding company with the limited and general partnership interests in Northern Tier Energy (NTI -0.9%) and Western Refining Logistics (WNRL -1.4%), which would allow WNR to generate a ~10% free cash flow yield over its forecast period.
Thu, Jun. 26, 3:33 PM
- Most refiners recover part of yesterday's big drop, which some say was an overreaction to the U.S. government move to allow two oil companies to export ultra-light crude oil for the first time: TSO +2.8%, VLO +2%, PSX +1%, CVI +0.7%, CLMT +0.7%, WNR +0.6%, MPC +0.2%, ALJ -1%, PBF -0.6%, HFC -0.3%.
- The death of U.S. refiners is "greatly exaggerated," Cowen analysts say: "The spirit of the law - that hydrocarbon liquids produced in the U.S. must be processed in the U.S. - remains in place, and permits for condensate exports do not constitute precedent for crude oil... We continue to see potential for a meaningful feedstock advantage for U.S. refiners emerging later in 2014."
- Ned Davis Research, however, thinks the news is "potentially game changing for refiners," since it signals a change in the government’s position on oil exports more broadly and noting that it is the export ban, plus inadequate pipeline infrastructure, that has fed recent refiner outperformance.
Wed, Jun. 25, 10:18 AM
- Refiners take a beating in early trading, as a lift of the ban on U.S. oil exports is expected to narrow the WTI-Brent spread, which could cause refiners' profits drop if they are forced to pay higher prices to compete with international buyers for U.S. crude.
- “We don’t think the current system needs to be changed,” Valero Energy tells Bloomberg.
- Yesterday's rulings gave Pioneer Natural Resources (PXD +2.6%) and Enterprise Products Partners (EPD +1.4%) permission to ship ultralight oil to foreign buyers - a narrow ruling, but one that is likely to spark similar requests from other companies, and increase lobbying for a full lifting of the 40-year-old ban on exporting crude oil.
- Refining stocks are broadly lower: VLO -7.4%, PBF -5.8%, MPC -5.7%, WNR -5.5%, DK -5.4%, HFC -4.6%, ALDW -4.6%, TSO -3.8%, NTI -3.5%, PSX -2.9%, ALJ -2.7%, CVI -2.3%.
Mon, Apr. 28, 12:45 PM
- Prices of U.S. crude grades such as West Texas Intermediate are starting to disconnect from Brent benchmark prices again, rebounding to ~$9/bbl two weeks after hitting a low for the year of less than $3.70.
- Stocks at the Cushing, Okla., hub have dropped by 16M barrels since late January but have jumped by 43M on the Gulf coast; overall, U.S. commercial crude oil inventories now stand at their highest level on record, according to Barclays.
- With the oil stuck there with nowhere to go, Gulf coast refiners can name their price - great for the likes of Valero Energy (VLO +1.9%), because they can then refine that oil into products such as gasoline that are allowable for export.
- Also today: PSX +0.9%, MPC +1.8%, HFC +0.7%, TSO +1.3%, CVI +0.9%, WNR +0.2%, PBF +1.1%, CLMT +2.3%, ALJ -1.2%.
- ETFs: USO, OIL, UCO, SCO, DTO, DBO, BNO, CRUD, USL, UWTI, DNO, DWTI, SZO, OLO, OLEM, TWTI
Fri, Feb. 28, 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.
Thu, Feb. 27, 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
Fri, Jan. 10, 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).
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. 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. 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%.
Nov. 14, 2013, 2:36 PM
- Refiners such as Marathon Petroleum (MPC +4.9%) and Valero (VLO +4%) are surging today, and Barron's Ben Levisohn says it’s all about the oil spread.
- While Brent crude has stayed steady for the last three months, trading at ~$109/bbl, WTI has dropped 12% to ~$94; the more expensive Brent is relative to WTI, the better it is for U.S. refiners.
- VLO, for example, has gained 17% during the past three months, and much of its price has followed the Brent-WTI spread.
- Also: PSX +2.1%, TSO +2.7%, HFC +3.2%, WNR +4.3%, ALJ +5.2%, ALDW +1.3%, CLMT +2.6%, CVI +1.3%.
Nov. 13, 2013, 12:42 PM
- Western Refining (WNR +2.8%) is upgraded to Buy from Neutral with a $41 target price, up from $34, at UBS, which sees material upside to its upwardly revised sum-of-the-parts derived price target.
- UBS views yesterday's announcement that WNR acquired the general partner interest in Northern Tier (NTI) as a clear endorsement by management of the variable MLP structure.
- Variable MLP refiners NTI and CVR Refining trade at 6.7x and 7.8x normalized EV/EBITDA multiples, the firm says, well above the 4.3x average multiple of the c-corp coverage universe and WNR's 3.3x; as such, it's not a matter of if but when before WNR ultimately contributes its El Paso and Gallup refinery to NTI's existing variable MLP structure.
Nov. 12, 2013, 11:56 AM
- Goldman Sachs says Western Refining's (WNR +7.2%) move to acquire a 38.7% stake in Northern Tier Energy (NTI +1.1%) is good for both companies, reiterating Buy ratings.
- WNR gains access to NTI’s St. Paul Park refinery, which has direct access to cost-advantaged Bakken and Canadian crude oils, the firm says.
- For NTI, at a minimum the share overhang from its previous P-E owners is now eliminated; while awaiting more details on whether WNR plans to set up an MLP for its existing wholly-owned refineries, "the potential certainly exists for NTI to benefit from greater asset diversification while remaining a MidCon pure-play."
Nov. 12, 2013, 9:40 AM
- Northern Tier Energy (NTI +3.5%) confirms that its private equity sponsors have agreed to sell all of their interests in NTI, including those of the general partner, to Western Refining (WNR +9.3%) for $775M; WNR now owns 100% of the general partner and 38.7% of NTI. (earlier)
- WNR says the deal adds scale to its business and diversifies operations by adding a new geographic region to its refining platform.
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