Unless you compare the results to those of ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX), and BP (BP) in the first quarter, you may not realize exactly how unusual Statoil (STO in New York and STL.NO in Oslo) first quarter report was on May 8.
In their quarterly statements ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP all reported lower production in the first quarter. That’s a reflection of how tough it’s become for the big international majors to find new reserves big enough to move their numbers.
Statoil, however, reported a 12% increase in production from the first quarter of 2011. The company started production at new projects in Brazil, Angola, and the Norwegian sector of the North Sea. Enhanced production technologies, the company added, boosted production from its mature Norwegian fields. (In addition in the quarter Statoil made three big oil and gas discoveries in Norway, Brazil, and Tanzania.)
The bottom line result of this increase in production was record first quarter earnings of $10.1 billion, a 14% increase from the first quarter of 2011, on a 34% increase in revenue.
All this good news came with a bit of a warning, of course. Investors shouldn’t expect this kind of increase in production for the rest of 2012, the company said. In fact, because of delays in the startup of the Skarv field, a field off the Norwegian coast and operated by Statoil’s partner here BP, production might come in below forecast.
But just so investors shouldn’t get too gloomy Statoil also announced a breakthrough exploration deal with Russia’s Rosneft that gives Statoil access to what are projected as big new reserves in the Russian Arctic. For a while now I’m been preaching that Statoil’s experience in exploration and production in hostile environments was a huge advantage to the company. The finds in Brazil’s deepwater South Atlantic and the deal with Rosneft are good examples of that.
The only problem I can see with Statoil’s shares is that they aren’t cheap—well, the story isn’t exactly a secret. My 12-month target price for Statoil is $29, about 7.5% above the May 9 closing price for the New York traded ADRs. Even with the 4.4% yield that might not be enough upside for your portfolio. But then again, in this market it might be.
As of May 10, I’m adding these shares of my Jubak’s Picks portfolio with a target price of $29 by May 2013.
Full disclosure: I don’t own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this post in my personal portfolio. The mutual fund I manage, Jubak Global Equity Fund http://jubakfund.com/ , may or may not now own positions in any stock mentioned in this post. The fund did own shares of Statoil as of the end of December. For a full list of the stocks in the fund as of the end of December see the fund’s portfolio at http://jubakfund.com/about-the-fund/holdings/