Energy Business

Refiners May Be Fully Valued: Deutsche Bank Has Just 3 to Buy Now


The refiners had an outstanding run while some the major oil companies were getting hammered, but it appears that the outperformance may have caught up with them. With some of the bigger players indicating they may have to cut capital expenditures by as much as 30%, this could bode well for some of the top companies, as they have far better balance sheets, but still reflects caution.

So are any refiners still a buy? In a new research report, Deutsche Bank says yes, but not many are attractive to the analysts now. In fact in the firm’s coverage of seven companies, only three are rated Buy. With potential free-cash-flow yield upside in the 4% range, the Deutsche Bank stocks to buy still make good sense.


This is smaller cap company that the analysts feel comfortable about now. HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE: HFC) is an independent petroleum refiner and marketer that produces high-value light products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel and other specialty products. It markets its refined products principally in the Southwest, the Rocky Mountains extending into the Pacific Northwest, and other neighboring Plains states.

HollyFrontier operates through its subsidiaries a 135,000 barrels per stream day (bpsd) refinery located in El Dorado, Kan.; a 125,000-bpsd refinery in Tulsa, Okla.; a 100,000-bpsd refinery located in Artesia, N.M.; a 52,000-bpsd refinery located in Cheyenne, Wyo.; and a 31,000-bpsd refinery in Woods Cross, Utah.

One positive for the company is that the decline in the stock price, which is over 30% since the beginning of December, has knocked the price-to-earnings (P/E) multiple on estimated 2016 earnings to a very modest 11.36. That is far below the 16.4 P/E that the company posted between the third quarter of 2013 and last year.

Holly Frontier investors are paid a very solid 3.75% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price objective for the stock is $57, and the Thomson/First Call consensus target is $44.31. The shares closed most recently at $35.23.

Marathon Petroleum

This top refiner rolled over after fourth-quarter earnings and may be offering an outstanding entry point. Marathon Petroleum Corp. (NYSE: MPC) has a diversified business that operates 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.

While acknowledging that the company’s margins may have compressed some, many on Wall Street also expect strong revenue contribution from the assets acquired from Hess, and last year the company converted almost all the Hess stations to the company’s Speedway brand.

For the fourth quarter, Marathon Petroleum’s posted net income of $187 million, which fell by 77% from the prior years numbers. This was due in part to declines in the operating incomes of its refining and Speedway segments and partly offset by a rise in income from its midstream segment. The company also took a combined charge of $370 million in the quarter that came from the lower market inventory valuation levied on its refining and Speedway segments.

Marathon shareholders receive a 3.5% dividend. Deutsche Bank has a $64 price target. The consensus target is lower at $55.93. Shares closed most recently at $36.63.

Valero Energy

This is another Wall Street and Deutsche Bank favorite that looks like a solid buy after the monster pullback. Valero Energy Corp. (NYSE: VLO) is an international manufacturer and marketer of transportation fuels, other petrochemical products and power. Valero assets include 15 petroleum refineries with a combined throughput capacity of approximately 3.0 million barrels per day, 11 ethanol plants with a combined production capacity of 1.3 billion gallons per year, a 50-megawatt wind farm and renewable diesel production from a joint venture.

Through subsidiaries, Valero owns the general partner of Valero Energy Partners, a midstream master limited partnership. Approximately 7,500 outlets carry the Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock and Beacon brands in the United States and the Caribbean, Ultramar in Canada and Texaco in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

While the company was removed last month from the Goldman Sachs conviction buy list, it remains one of the premiere companies in the industry and boasts among the strongest balance sheets. Also it recently announced that it had secured an expansion of its revolving credit facility from $300 million to $750 million. That increase offers $656 million in total liquidity with which to continue acquiring Valero Energy’s. midstream assets in 2016. Better yet, thanks to a leverage ratio (debt/EBITDA) of just 1.1 times compared to the industry average of 6.2, Valero Energy Partners should have little trouble accessing additional cheap debt markets.

Valero investors receive a 3.7% dividend. Deutsche Bank lowered its price target to $87 from $88, while the consensus target is at $80.79. Valero closed Tuesday at $64.94.

Clearly the sector already has been tagged along with other energy companies, but these companies have all bounced nicely off the lows printed in early February. Investors looking for an energy play with less risk, as well as dividends that should remain covered, should look to these three as possible portfolio additions.

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