Analysts Getting Even More Positive on Kinder Morgan and Halliburton After Earnings

October 20, 2016 by Jon C. Ogg

oil field sunset
Source: Thinkstock
It is not unusual at all to see big moves in share prices after earnings reports and other key news releases. It is also not that uncommon to see analysts become more positive or more negative about those companies depending on the bias of the news. Now we have seen many analysts become less negative and even outright positive on many companies in the energy sector. Perhaps the real issue to wonder is whether there remains serious upside for the oil patch ahead of if the recovery in those stocks has already priced in a recovery.

24/7 Wall St. tracked two key earnings reports in the oil patch, and they have been followed by positive analyst calls. Kinder Morgan Inc. (NYSE: KMI) has traded up after its earnings managed to beat expectations.  Halliburton Company (NYSE: HAL) has also seen gains, but on a more muted basis.

What stands out here is that the pool of analysts covering each energy giant here have been more positive than cautious on Thursday. Investors should also take notice that these positive calls and upgrades are also being seen after a significant price recovery from the lows of 2015 and early 2016.

Kinder Morgan shares were seen trading up 2.2% at $21.17 in mid-day trading on Thursday, almost 100% higher than its 52-week low of $11.20 but still well under a 52-week high of $31.42. Kinder Morgan’s consensus analyst price target is now $24.21. Halliburton’s stock price was last seen trading up 4-cents at $49.11 after having been up over 1% earlier in the morning. Halliburton’s 52-week trading range is $27.64 to $50.23, and its consensus analyst price target is now $54.98.

24/7 Wall St. has tracked numerous analyst calls for each company. Some are actual ratings upgrades and some are mere upticks in the price targets and/or earnings estimates.

On Kinder Morgan, Stifel Nicolaus raised its rating to Buy from Hold and they issued a $24.00 price target. Kinder Morgan was also raised to Outperform from Peer Perform at a firm called Wolfe Research. SunTrust Robinson Humphrey maintained its Buy rating and raised its target price to $26.00 from $25.00.

Credit Suisse raised its Kinder Morgan rating to Outperform from Neutral and raised its target to $26.00 from $23.00 in the call. What should stand out here is that Credit Suisse upgraded Kinder Morgan earlier in 2016 when shares were much lower and then it adjusted its Outperform rating down to Neutral after shares had recovered. At one point, Credit Suisse had said that the worst was behind it. Now Credit Suisse sees a likely mid-2018 dividend increase and they were interested again after its recent share price retreat.

In an effort to show both sides of the coin, we noticed that Jefferies merely reiterated its Hold rating on Kinder Morgan. It also made no change to the $22.00 price target. Their report said:

While we remain cautious regarding project returns & the depth of expansion inventory, we applaud management for putting the company on a stable de-levering glide path and believe leverage targets will be achieved in early 2018.

BofA Merrill Lynch maintained its Neutral rating and maintained its$24.00 price objective on Kinder Morgan. Its report said:

Kinder Morgan reported third quarter adjusted EBITDA of $1.77 billion, in-line with the BofAML/consensus estimate of $1.75 billion. Management highlighted TMX as a potential joint venture candidate and looks to continue self-funding growth after potentially increasing DPS. We reiterate our $24 PO based on a target 2017 EV/EBITDA of 12.5x.

Halliburton saw numerous analysts raise their price targets. Scotia (Howard Weil) was the cautious firm — it has a Sector Perform rating, but they still raised their price target to $57 from $50.

Cowen & Co. maintained its Market Perform rating and raised its target price to $45 from $40.

Other positive calls seen on Halliburton were as follows:

Barclays reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target price to $54 from $52.

BMO Capital Markets reiterated its Outperform rating and raised its target price to $58 from $50.

Goldman Sachs reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price target to $53 from $49.

J.P. Morgan reiterated its Overweight rating and raised its target price to $45 from $42.

Nomura reiterated its Buy rating and raised its target price to $61 from $54.

BofA Merrill Lynch reiterated its Buy rating and raised its price objective to $56.00 from $53.00 on Halliburton. They feel the trough is in the past and are prepping for the turnaround. That was based upon an unchanged 11 times multiple on a higher 2018 estimated EBITDA. They believe exit-2018 estimates reflects a more sustainable rig environment. Halliburton is well positioned for an inevitable and robust U.S. land rebound and the firm expects consensus estimates to rise. Merrill Lynch’s investment rationale said:

Halliburton’s higher North American exposure leave it well positioned for the recovery of drilling and completion activity we expect in the second half of 2016. Halliburton shares typically outperform peers during an oilfield activity recovery, which we expect will continue as drilling activity improves.

24/7 Wall St. wanted to include the corporate commentary here as well. After all, it is important to see if a company is talking itself up as much as the investors are.

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Dave Lesar, Chairman and CEO of Halliburton, had a lot to say. He was a bit cautious on the international business, while Latin America was down and its Eastern Hemisphere business was down. Just two of his eight quoted paragraphs said:

I am pleased with our third quarter results given the devastation our industry has faced over the last two years. These results reflect the hard work and determination of our organization. While the recent cycle has provided its fair share of challenges, we out-executed even against the very high expectations we place on our organization.

Globally, we will continue to expand our portfolio in unconventionals, mature fields and deepwater. We believe the underlying fundamentals driving our industry are strengthening, and I am optimistic about Halliburton’s relative performance as we move into the new year.

Richard Kinder, executive chairman of Kinder Morgan, said:

During the quarter, we substantially reduced our debt, further positioning Kinder Morgan for long-term value creation. We are ahead of our plan for 2016 year-end leverage and we’re pleased with the progress toward reaching our targeted leverage level of around 5.0 times net debt-to-Adjusted EBITDA. This will position us to return substantial value to shareholders through some combination of dividend increases, share repurchases, additional attractive growth projects or further debt reduction.

Additionally, we are pleased with our operational performance for the quarter despite continued weak market conditions in our industry. Our performance, adjusted for the SNG transaction, remains consistent with our guidance provided since April. We remain on track to generate full year 2016 distributable cash flow in excess of our expected dividends and our expected growth capital expenditures, eliminating our need to access the capital markets to fund growth projects in 2016. Moreover, given our continued efforts to high-grade our backlog, we do not expect to need to access the capital markets to fund our growth projects for the foreseeable future beyond 2016.