Earnings Roundup

The following portfolio holdings announced notable earnings results in recent weeks:

Cameron International (NYSE: CAM) reported better-than-expected earnings of 91 cents per share, vs. analysts’ consensus estimate of 88 cents, but the stock took a hit because it disappointed analysts by forecasting fourth quarter earnings of about 95 cents to 97 cents, about 10 percent below the then-consensus estimate. The past quarter was fairly robust, though: Sales rose a healthy 8 percent sequentially and 32 percent year over year, and the order backlog was up 30 percent to $7.60 billion. As an equipment company rather than a services company, Cameron’s orders are protected somewhat from short-term fluctuations in rig demand and commodity prices – and its strategy of focusing on deepwater products should lead to further growth as oil prices rise over the long term. The selloff has created a buying opportunity. Buy Cameron International below 62.

Eni (Milan: ENI, NYSE: E) reported a third-quarter earnings increase of 1.1 percent, which was better than expected given continuing weakness in European natural gas market.  Eni was helped by a resumption of oil production in Libya, where the Italian oil giant has a major presence.  Eni also is ramping up production in Iraq and in Kazakhstan. Buy Eni below 52.

Offshore driller Ensco (NYSE: ESV) also beat analysts’ expectations with third-quarter earnings per share of $1.53, vs. the $1.30 consensus. Rising demand for deepwater rigs in the Gulf of Mexico continues to boosts the company’s sales and future prospects, and we expect that trend to continue even at current oil prices. Over the long term, we expect investment in Gulf and Brazilian deepwater projects to pick up velocity. Ensco actually is experiencing far more demand than it has capacity, providing assurance that its current capital spending campaign will result in a high return on investment. Buy Ensco below 60.

NuStar Energy LP (NYSE: NS) has been hit hard in recent weeks by lower-than-expected earnings resulting from high oil costs, which hurt the company’s asphalt business; its New Jersey operations also were shut down due to Hurricane Sandy. Essentially, NuStar remains a great income play with high-quality infrastructure (oil storage and pipelines) but it has been squeezed by weak economic growth on one hand and higher crude prices on the other. The recent selling seems overdone; a Credit Suisse analyst recently upgraded the stock, leading to a small rebound that we believe will continue. Buy NuStar Energy LP below 60.

Oasis Petroleum (NYSE: OAS) more than doubled production (to more than 24,000 barrels of oil equivalent a day) and oil-and-gas revenue in the third quarter, thanks to the continued boom in the Williston Basin in Montana and North Dakota. Excluding the impact of hedging – which worked against the company this quarter – earnings per share increased to 38 cents vs. 23 cents in the year-earlier quarter. We continue to regard Oasis as one of the best pure plays on Bakken Shale, with 320,000 net acres to produce, and the company’s low exposure to natural gas (crude oil accounts for more than 80 percent of reserves) is a huge plus, given our bullish outlook for crude oil but tepid outlook for gas. Buy Oasis Petroleum below 38.

In other news, SandRidge Mississippian Trust I (NYSE: SDT), SandRidge Mississippian Trust II (NYSE: SDR) and SandRidge Permian Trust (NYSE: PER) have continued to suffer from selling in recent weeks. Part of the reason is commodity-based: as oil prices decline, investors fear that these maturing oil assets will return less than expected, with little chance for expanded oil production down the road to make up for the near-term shortfall. However, these trusts have hedges in place that should protect distributions regardless of crude oil prices’ direction; in addition, we think oil is headed higher over the long term, which should cause the trusts’ unit prices to rebound. Another factor leading to the selloff was poor communication from parent company SandRidge Energy, which announced it may sell some of its Permian Basin assets. However, these asset sales would not impact the trusts’ Permian assets – they refer to other assets not held by the trusts.

While we’re disappointed by the selloffs, we continue to see solid cash flows and high distributions in these trusts’ future. Even if distributions rise at a lower rate than investors may have expected, the current double-digit yields are extremely attractive. Conservative investors may want to avoid these volatile trusts, but if you can stomach the ups and downs, they remain attractive. We’ll maintain a Hold on SandRidge Mississippian Trust I and Buys on SandRidge Mississippian Trust II (below 24.50) and SandRidge Permian Trust (below 24).

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