Petrobras battered by downgrades as analysts warn of political risks

  • Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) -18.1% pre-market, as investors are spooked by Brazil President Bolsonaro's surprise decision to fire CEO Roberto Castello Branco late Friday and replace him with a former army general.
  • Ibovespa futures -5%, the iShares MSCI Brazil ETF (NYSEARCA:EWZ) -6.6% pre-market, and Brazil's real tumbles more than 2%.
  • Analysts weigh in with a wave of downgrades on worries over political risks after Bolsonaro's move, including double downgrades to Sell-equivalent ratings at J.P. Morgan and Credit Suisse.
  • At least six other firms cut their ratings, including XP, where analysts say investing in Petrobras is no longer defensible, citing "risks to the company's independence and ability to continue pricing its fuel to international parity."
  • The potential for a mass resignation of Petrobras management raises questions about whether momentum toward asset sales strongly pushed by Castello Branco will be maintained under his replacement, analysts say.
  • Tensions had been rising between Bolsonaro and Castello Branco: The president had expressed sympathy for truckers threatening to strike over higher diesel prices, but the CEO said the complaints were not the company's problem and that Petrobras would set prices independently of political pressure.
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