Energy Business

Analysts Are Changing Views on Devon After a Big News Week

Jon C. Ogg

Devon Energy Corp. (NYSE: DVN) had a rough week. On top of earnings and a shuffling around in management, Devon also announced a capital raise that was upsized. And despite a recovery in oil and many energy stocks, Devon shares hit a 52-week low, and its stock was down almost 15% for the week shortly before Friday’s close. Many analysts on Wall Street have chimed in with ratings changes after the news.

Devon’s upsized public offering was 69 million common shares sold in a public offering at $18.75 per share. The company will use the nearly $1.3 billion for general corporate purposes, which it said was to include shoring up its liquidity, reducing debt and funding its capital program.

The company had a huge net loss of $4.5 billion after a non-cash impairment charge. Still, Devon claimed core earnings of $319 million in the fourth quarter. The company also noted that it delivered oil production growth of 26%, lowered its field-level costs by nearly $400 million last year, has nearly $4 billion of liquidity, lowered its exploration and production capital spending outlook by 75% for 2016 and lowered its general and administrative expense expectations by some $800 million.

If you just looked at a news summary the overall trend might sound good. The reality is that the energy sector continues to suffer. Many analysts kept positive ratings on Devon, even if they lowered their price targets.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch maintained its Buy rating on Devon. What stood out was the firm maintained an incredibly high price objective of $53.00, which implies more than 100% upside. The firm’s view is that the surprise equity issue was the latest evidence that the credit markets are closed to energy companies now.

Merrill Lynch even noted that this equity issue looks like a concession to credit rating agencies to protect Devon’s investment grade rating until asset sales are complete. Their view is that the market reaction may be mixed. It could raise questions of over perceived viability of some $2 billion to $3 billion of planned asset sales. Still, it will reduce debt and sustains an enterprise value multiple that enhances value and alleviates share pressure.

S&P Capital IQ raised its rating to Hold from Sell this last week. The firm widened its expected loss per share in 2016 by $1.19 to $1.28, and it started a 2017 EPS estimate of $0.96. The firm’s 12-month target was cut from $23 to $21 and reflects a multiple of 3.5 times the price to projected 2016 operating cash flow. S&P even noted that the capital raise is viewed as an effort to live within its cash flows.

24/7 Wall St. looked for other analyst calls on Devon as well. Formal ratings were all over the place, but the price targets were generally lower:

  • Cowen kept its Outperform rating but lowered its price target to $34 from $46.
  • Credit Suisse kept an Outperform rating but lowered its price target from $44 to $37.
  • Goldman Sachs (which was the book-running manager for the offering) kept its Neutral rating but lowered its price target to $34 from $39.
  • Guggenheim kept its Buy rating but lowered its price target to $39 from $57.
  • JPMorgan maintained its Overweight rating but lowered its price target to $25 from $33.
  • Morningstar has a Buy rating but said it sees lowering its $39 fair value estimate by about $3 after its evaluation.
  • RBC Capital Markets maintained an Outperform rating but lowered its price target to $35 from $50.

Though selling more shares at $18.75 per share, Devon’s stock price was down 5.5% at $18.62 late on Friday and that was down over 14% from the $21.69 close on the prior Friday.

Devon’s new 52-week range was listed as $18.07 to $70.48. The old consensus analyst price target was $40.79, but that may be lower as the price targets are adjusted ahead.