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4 Refiners Could See Massive Earnings Increase From Trump Tax Bill

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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.

PBF Energy

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.

Andeavor

This is a larger cap refining play that could have big upside. Andeavor (NYSE: ANDV), formerly Tesoro, is an independent refiner and marketer of petroleum products. The company operates seven refineries concentrated in the western United States with throughput capacity of 1.1 million barrels per day.

Andeavor’s retail marketing system sells gasoline and diesel fuel through retail stations, as well as through third-party dealers and distributors. This segment operates a network of 2,492 retail stations under the ARCO, Shell, Exxon, Mobil, USA Gasoline, Rebel, Thrifty and Tesoro brands. The company changed its name to Andeavor in August 2017.

The analysts see estimated 2018 EPS jumping from $8.25 to $11.26 with a corporate tax cut, huge 36% increase.

Shareholders of Andeavor are paid a 2.12% dividend. The posted consensus price target is $117.63. The shares closed trading on Wednesday trading at $111.14.

Marathon Petroleum

This top refiner has been on a nice roll but still trades well below highs posted in late 2015. Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) has a diversified business, operating through Refining & Marketing, Speedway, and Pipeline Transportation segments. The company owns and operates seven refineries in the Gulf Coast and Midwest regions of the United States, which refine crude oil and other feedstocks, and it distributes refined products through barges, terminals and trucks, as well as purchases ethanol and refined products for resale.

The company announced in January its plans to significantly accelerate its dropdown of assets with an estimated $1.4 billion of MLP-eligible annual earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to MPLX. The analysts noted this in the report:

The company also decided earlier this year not to spin of its Speedway business which has 2,730 locations, spread across 21 states. Marathon plans to invest $380 million into Speedway, by building new stores and remodeling others.

The Raymond James analysts see estimated 2018 EPS rising from $4.25 to $5.46 with a corporate tax cut, a large 39% increase.

Marathon shareholders are paid a 2.53% dividend. The $65.06 consensus price objective compares with the most recent close at $63.22 per share.

Delek

This small cap refining company could bring some outstanding gains for investors with a more aggressive investing portfolio. Delek U.S. Holdings Inc. (NYSE: DK) is an independent U.S. refiner headquartered in Brentwood, Tennessee, with core operating assets located in Tyler, Texas, and El Dorado, Arkansas.

Delek operates three business units (refining, retail, logistics) but derives more than 70% of its operating income from its refining segment, which has approximately 140 million barrels per day of crude throughput capacity. Delek’s product slate is skewed toward the light end, including motor fuels.

The Raymond James team lifted their 2018 estimated earnings from $1.80 a share to $2.13, which is a 28% increase.

Delek investors are paid a very solid 2.3% dividend. The consensus target price was last seen at $28.67. The stock closed on most recently at $28.27 a share.

These are four stocks for which the Raymond James analysts are raising earnings estimates to stunning levels, and while there is always the chance for them to be off, anything close to the numbers posted will be huge for the four companies. Needless to say, the passing of the tax plan is critical for these estimates to come in next year.