Credit Suisse Outlook on Major Oil Giants: BP, Shell and More

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Credit Suisse has initiated coverage on the major European and global oil companies. Some were given very favorable outlooks and Outperform ratings. Others were given Neutral ratings, and one was even given a nasty Underperform rating. What is interesting is that all the oil giants are expected to have upside ahead.

Credit Suisse’s Thomas Yoichi Adolff made the calls on Thursday. These indicated upsides were based on local prices of their shares on their local exchanges, which is why no formal price targets were signaled for the ADRs trading in New York.

BP PLC (NYSE: BP) was initiated as Neutral and had implied upside of only 3%. Adolff’s note even called it “Ticking the boxes, but is this sustainable?” The note points out that continued Macondo liabilities could potentially eat into cash flow while BP’s peers have been able to invest in new production. Adolff is concerned that a recovery possibly may take longer than market expectations. BP ADRs were last seen up 0.3% at $46.59 in New York trading.

Statoil ASA (NYSE: STO) was initiated as Neutral and given an implied upside target of just under 10%. The Norwegian oil giant was still called a better version of its former self. Adolff said:

Statoil is turning resource rich, owing to its success with the drill-bit over the past few years. Its forward exploration program also looks attractive. This should allow Statoil to continue to high-grade its portfolio and make better project choices over time. At this stage, however, it still has the highest share of declining shortercycle fields, which keeps capital intensity high, while there are potential risks to its gas business. This indicates that it will continue to lag its peers in FCF generation, and that the inflection point will not be reached until 2019, on our estimates.

Statoil shares were last seen up 0.8% at $22.75 in New York.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC (NYSE: RDS-A) was started as Outperform with an implied upside of more than 13%. The win here is Shell’s resource depth and breadth, technology leadership, ability to cover both organic capital spending and a growing dividend. Adolff sees Shell relatively well positioned to drive shareholder returns longer term. Adolff believes 2014 will be a better year, likely under a new CEO, and he also noted that the capital allocation concerns are likely overdone. Royal Dutch Shell ADRs were last seen up 0.6% at $66.06 in New York trading.

Total S.A. (NYSE: TOT) was started as Outperform as the supertanker is turning the corner. The implied upside was almost 10% for the French oil giant. Adolff said:

With over 95% of projects underlying Total’s 2017 target already in production or development, we believe the trajectory of upstream volumes is turning positive, signalling the beginning of a period of strong upstream growth. Combined with a decreasing capital intensity, we expect Total to be one of the leaders in FCF generation, providing scope for further lower-risk dividend growth.

Total’s ADRs were last seen down 0.1% at $59.23.

ENI SpA (NYSE: E) was initiated with an Underperform rating, although the Italian oil giant was given an implied upside of almost 4% in the new coverage. Adolff said this may take longer to unwind and said:

Weak earnings stemming from G&P, R&M and upstream exposure to higher risk countries have been a feature of Eni in 2013. We believe the market remains too optimistic on a recovery in G&P, R&M (self-help and macro) and North/West Africa (>30% of E&P EV) returning to normality.

The ADRs for ENI were last seen down 0.25% at $48.25 in New York trading.