With oil solidly back at over $56 a barrel for West Texas Intermediate and almost $64 for Brent crude, long-suffering energy investors are finally getting some relief after the sector was the worst performing in a market that has been hitting all-time highs. Unrest in the Middle East, huge changes in Saudi Arabia’s ruling hierarchy, and solid demand growth have all taken the bears by storm. Toss in super-benefits for parts of the sector in the new White House tax plan, and it could be smooth sailing for a while.
The lower corporate tax rate suggested in the new plan was greeted with strong approval by corporate America, and with good reason. The top U.S. corporate rate is 35%. When combined with state and local business taxes, it’s just over 39% on average. That’s higher than the average statutory rates of the 35 countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. It’s also higher than that of the 15 largest economies in the world, according to the Congressional Research Service.
While picking winners in the energy sector, and there may be many, the refiners stand out as big beneficiaries in the new tax bill. A new Raymond James research report from noted this in regards to the refining stocks:
With our refining coverage universe currently paying corporate tax at, or close to, the statutory rate of 35%, the cut to 20% should be very beneficial, in our view. We believe it highlights the potentially immense benefit for refiners if tax reform comes to fruition in its current form.
The report showed the huge increase in potential earnings for the top refiners if the plan is adopted and rates drop to 20%. Here we highlight the four companies that, according to the firm, would show the largest percentage increase in earnings. It should be noted that Raymond James does not have Buy ratings on these stocks, but they are just the four that should see the biggest earnings-per-share (EPS) increase.
This lesser known refiner stands to see the biggest increase in earnings if the tax plan goes through. PBF Energy Inc. (NYSE: PBF) together with its subsidiaries, engages in the refining and supply of petroleum products. The company operates through two segments: Refining and Logistics. It produces gasoline, ultra-low-sulfur diesel, heating oil, diesel fuel, jet fuel, lubricants, petrochemicals and asphalt, as well as unbranded transportation fuels, petrochemical feedstocks, blending components and other petroleum products.
The company sells its products in Northeast, Midwest, Gulf Coast, and West Coast of the United State, as well as in other regions of the United States and Canada. It also offers various rail, truck and marine terminaling services, as well as pipeline transportation and storage services.
PBF reported solid third-quarter results that featured big margins and a refining beat. With a 20% tax rated, Raymond James sees estimated 2018 EPS jumping to $4.03 from $2.85, a massive 41% increase.
PBF shareholders are paid a 3.8% dividend. The Wall Street consensus price target for the stock is $27.93, but note that shares closed above that level on Wednesday at $31.61.