Update December 9, 2016 The Cheniere Energy story is pretty simple.
The company got the first license to export liquified natural gas from the United States, locked in long-term contracts for its Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi terminals, and then waited for revenue to flow in as the individual production trains at the two plants kicked in.
What investors needed was patience–and sometimes strong nerves–as they contemplated the mountain of debt that Cheniere had used to fund its facilities and the fact that natural gas prices had tanked since the heady days when the company began to build its facilities.
The third quarter of 2016, then marked something of a turning point for the company.
At the Sabine Pass facility Train 1 and Train 2 went into operation. That resulted in operating revenue from LNG at the company climbing to $399 million (and $466 million in total) in the quarter. After showing an operating loss in the third quarter of 2015, Cheniere moved to an operating profit in the third quarter of 2016 although the company still showed a net loss per share of 44 cents in the quarter. (That was down from a loss of $1.31 in the third quarter of 2015.) For the fourth quarter revenue from Train 1 is projected at $143 million and from Train 2 at $113 million. Train 3 is expected to go into operation in mid-2017 with Train 4 to follow by the end of 207. Cheniere shipped its first tanker of LNG in February 2016; by the end of September the total was up to 19 including the first shipment to China. The company has used the space earned by the start of revenue as well as the general enthusiasm from the post-OPEC production agreement to restructure its debt so that the next big maturity (of $1.96 billion) doesn’t take place until 2020. In September Standard & Poor’s raise its credit rating on Sabine Pass debt to investment trade BBB- from BB.
As of December 8 I’m raising my target price to $51 a share from the prior $34 a share. Cheniere Energy closed at $41.95 on December 7. The stock is a member of my Jubak Picks portfolio.