Canadian Oil Sands: Why a Larger Syncrude Holding Makes Sense

by: Streetwise Blog

By Andrew Willis

It doesn’t take the Street long to crunch the numbers on a deal, even if that deal’s not done.

With ConocoPhillips’ (NYSE:COP) 9% stake in the Syncrude oil sands project officially up for grabs, analysts are firing out estimates of what the acquisition of the holding would mean for the most likely buyer, Canadian Oil Sands Trust (OTCQX:COSWF).

At RBC Dominion Securities, a report early Thursday said: “In [our] mind, the planned sale of ConocoPhillips’ 9% interest in Syncrude is Canadian Oil Sand’s to lose, with the transaction supporting 3% to 4% cash flow per unit accretion.”

Canadian Oil Sands released its financial results on Wednesday, and cash flow per unit was 61 cents in the third quarter. The trust, which owns 36% of Syncrude, raised its quarterly distribution yesterday by 40%, to 35 cents a unit from 25 cents.

Other Syncrude partners are expected to take a pass on ConocoPhillips’ stake - they are project operator Imperial Oil (NYSEMKT:IMO), along with Suncor (NYSE:SU), Nexen (NXY), Mocal Energy and Murphy Oil (NYSE:MUR). Analysts say while financial players such as sovereign wealth funds may take a look at the U.S. oil company’s Syncrude position, they are unlikely to match Canadian Oil Sands in a bidding war that features a $3 billion-plus price tag.

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