Energy Business

Mixed Reactions to Linn Energy Earnings

Linn Energy LLC (NASDAQ: LINE) reported third-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Wednesday morning. The independent oil and gas production company posted a net loss per common unit of $4.47 on revenues of $998 million. In the same period a year ago, the company reported earnings per common unit of $0.33 on revenues of $1.4 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for earnings per unit of $0.13 and $765.14 million in revenues.

LinnCo LLC (NASDAQ: LNCO) owns about 36% of Linn Energy’s outstanding common units, and it trades as a corporation in order to attract institutional investors and pension funds that are often unable to buy into partnerships. Each share of LinnCo represents one unit of Linn Energy.

Linn Energy’s quarterly loss includes non-cash impairment charges of approximately $2.3 billion, or $6.43 per unit; non-cash gains related to changes in fair value of unsettled commodity derivatives of approximately $235 million, or $0.67 per unit; non-cash gains on extinguishment of debt of approximately $198 million, or $0.56 per unit; and gains on sale of assets and other of approximately $167 million, or $0.48 per unit.

The company’s third-quarter revenues include approximately $549 million in gains on derivatives.

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Linn reported that it has hedged approximately 100% of its expected natural gas production through 2017 at prices averaging $4.48 to $5.12 per million BTUs and approximately 90% of its oil production for the rest of 2015 at an average price of $88 per barrel. Production for 2016 is approximately 70% hedged at an average price of around $90 a barrel.

The company continues to try to improve its balance sheet. In the first nine months of 2015, Linn Energy has repurchased $783 million of its senior notes for $557 million in cash, saving the company annual interest payments of about $54 million. That could be tricky given revisions to its credit facilities. Under the terms of the amended agreements, Linn and its subsidiary Berry Petroleum may incur up to $4 billion and $500 million, respectively, of junior lien indebtedness, in each case subject to borrowing base reductions in certain circumstances. At the end of September, Linn’s undrawn capacity totaled about $790 million.

Linn Energy and LinnCo provide less data than we normally see in earnings reports. For example, they did not report adjusted earnings or adjusted net income, but using reported excess of net cash provided by operating activities after distributions and certain adjustments as a proxy for adjusted income, we reckon that cash per unit from operations came to about $0.31. That and the revenue total are apparently the factors that drove the unit price higher in Thursday’s premarket session.

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Common units of Linn Energy traded down about 5.3% in the early going Thursday, at $2.68 in a 52-week range of $2.01 to $24.50. The consensus price target is $3.15.

LinnCo shares traded down about 2.3%, at $2.59 in a 52-week range of $1.88 to $22.55. The consensus price target on the shares is $5.58.