Energy Business

Big Changes From BofA on 'Undervalued' Oil Industry: 8 Top Picks and More

The price of a barrel of oil has jumped by nearly 60% over the past 12 months from around $50 to nearly $80. Crude’s price increase has been marred by intermittent concerns that OPEC would hike output and that COVID-19 would slow down global growth. Since December 1, when crude traded for around $65 a barrel, the price of a barrel of crude rose has risen by 20%.

Analysts at Bank of Americas Securities on Monday published a research note on U.S. oil and gas producers, along with several ratings changes, that reflects the firm’s belief that the sector will see a post-COVID demand recovery this year. They believe the sector is undervalued by about 30%:

[W]e expect investor apathy conflated with ESG concerns to be replaced by what we would regard as a more rational view on the value proposition of ‘old energy’, against a realistic pace of any energy transition & anchored on transparent valuations defined by free cash flow and defended by outsize cash returns prioritized over growth.


BofA’s analysis is based on two main points: Saudi Arabia (along with Russia) “has de-facto control of oil markets” and the kingdom will continue efforts to contain volatility in global oil markets; and U.S. producers have “unprecedented capacity to return cash to investors, with average sector [free-cash-flow] yield of 20% in 2022.”

Before looking at BofA’s top ideas for the sector, here are the 11 new and changed ratings the firm made Monday morning.

Canada-based Suncor Energy Inc. (NYSE: SU) was initiated with a Buy rating and a price objective of $40 (C$44). Suncor’s estimated share-price upside in 2022 is 30%, and BofA estimates free cash flow yield (before dividends) for the year at 15%. Suncor’s total return for the past 12 months is 48.4%.

Exxon Mobil-controlled Canadian producer Imperial Oil was initiated with a Buy rating and a price objective of C$60. Imperial’s estimated share-price upside in 2022 is 25%, and BofA estimates free cash flow yield (before dividends) for the year at 10%. Suncor’s total return (on Toronto-traded shares) for the past 12 months is nearly 80%.

Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy Inc. (NYSE: CHK) was initiated with a Buy rating and price objective of $90. Chesapeake’s estimated share-price upside in 2022 is 35%, and BofA estimates free cash flow yield (before dividends) for the year at 16%. Chesapeake only began paying dividends in May and does not yet have a 12-month return.

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