West African Wonder: Profit from the New Oil and Gas Powerhouse

Part two of our look at Elliott Gue's African Oil teaser

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, September 28, 2011

Yesterday we took a look at Elliott Gue’s teaser for West African oil — a long pitch that started out with the discovery of a “daydreaming Irish accountant”, and today we’ll keep moving (you can see part one, which uncovered the tease of big Tullow Oil, right here).

So today, as promised, we’re looking at the other stocks teased by Gue as plays on West African oil, and particularly on the huge Jubilee Field discovered offshore Ghana and on other Ghanaian developments.

Or in his words,

“I know several perfectly positioned producers with a virtual lock on the Jubilee field, as well as other exciting new discoveries off the west coast of Africa.”

Might I interest you in Gue’s hints and clues as he tries to sell us a subscription to his Energy Strategist ($399 at the moment, just FYI)? Let’s see how he pitches those secret stocks in his ad …

“Another top pick is a relatively new player with a major stake in Ghana’s most exciting oil finds, including Jubilee and some of the other largest fields. (A U.S. Super Oil recently offered them $4 billion for their stake in the giant field.) The company continues to drill wells in other Ghanaian plays—several of which look to be potentially red-hot catalysts. Your projected upside: 40-50% profits in 12 to 18 months. Invest with confidence. This uncannily successful oilman says he’ll be pumping oil in Africa for at least 20 more years. ‘The future of energy,’ he asserts, ‘is Africa.'”

And the picture, we’re told, is bigger than just Ghana … and bigger than just the Jubilee field:

“Jubilee Isn’t the Only Discovery Off Ghana’s Coast

“In fact, the discoveries just keep coming.

“The three Jubilee partners also announced the discovery of the Tweneboa and Mahogany Deep oilfields in the same region. Although appraisal drilling is still underway in these new finds, initial results are encouraging and the fields will likely produce first oil in the next few years.

“These finds also have implications that extend beyond Ghana’s borders. Similar geologic features extend around the coast of Africa to other nations, including the Ivory Coast, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“Producers have announced a series of important oil discoveries along this 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) trend, including the Montserrado field offshore Liberia and the Venus, Jupiter and Mercury fields offshore Sierra Leone. Operators are drilling a number of exploratory and appraisal wells in these plays, which should yield more discoveries.”

So that second pick, the one that apparently turned down an offer from ExxonMobil for four billion smackers? That one is the stock I mentioned in passing yesterday, the relative newcomer Kosmos Energy (KOS).

Kosmos has indeed been expanding their footprint — they discovered the Jubilee field and have a working interest in the two blocks where Jubilee is being drilled offshore Ghana, with partners including Tullow and Anadarko (APC). They produced their first oil from Jubilee late last year, and quickly went public on the strength of that this Spring at about $18. With oil prices a bit less happy these days, and with concern about “risk” assets, the price is down substantially — still a market cap of about $5 billion, but now down around $12 and well off the highs. The stock is even down a bit today while most oil stocks (including Tullow) are up, perhaps due to their latest well test results for a new field released overnight (they looked OK to me, but maybe expectations were higher).

Lots to get to today, and Kosmos has been well-covered in the press as a big new IPO this year … so you can form your own opinion. There’s some analyst interest and clearly an expectation that production will ramp up significantly as Jubilee and other fields are developed, but they aren’t profitable yet and I haven’t seen any projections of future earnings so far, which is also probably keeping some risk-averse investors away. Good story, hard to come up with a fair valuation in just the quick look I’ve taken today — if you have a target or opinion on KOS, feel free to shout it out with a comment below.

But we’ve got to move on … a third pick, teased thusly:

“In fact, one of our biggest recent winners in The Energy Strategist is a UK-listed exploration and production name that bought a series of smaller plays offshore West Africa that were discovered by major international oil companies.

“By bringing these smaller projects online, this firm has built a growing base of profitable oil production. My investors pocketed excellent gains.

“There’s plenty more to come. This company is sitting almost precisely where the Irish accountant’s company was a few years ago. They’ve amassed an impressive portfolio of 29 high-potential assets in or offshore 11 African nations. In the near future this crackerjack company will develop promising oil assets off western Nigeria and the Cote d’Ivoire. Production has already reached 60,000 to 100,000 barrels of oil per day. This is a pure play on Africa. Your projected upside: 75% profits in 12 to 18 months.”

That one is a stock I don’t remember every writing much about, Afren (AFR in London, AFRNF on the pink sheets — light volume and a somewhat smaller stock, so be careful if you try to trade it … in general, London-listed stocks should trade reasonably well on the pinks when London is open, the first hour or two of US trading, but pink sheets listings of foreign stocks are almost always bad for in-and-out trading).

Afren is far cheaper than it was over the winter, too, though they have production-specific reasons — their big project in Nigeria had some delays in ramping up production, and investors seem to be pricing in some extra risk since all of their current production is in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, two places that have seen some recent tumult.

They said the right thing when they released results in late August about increasing resources and ramping up production in the second half, but investors were clearly disappointed with the results and the shares dropped by about 50% almost overnight. They’ve trended slightly lower still over the last month, so if you liked it at 150 pence perhaps you’ll love it at 90 pence (around $1.50).

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Afren is not tiny, to be sure — the market cap is right around a billion Pounds, so that’s about $1.5 billion. And they have a lot of projects — production and fairly advanced development so far only really in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, but they do have nine other African countries where they’re working, mostly still in the exploration phase, and they’re also moving forward with some production sharing contracts in Kurdistan, which might become interesting. They’re just on the verge of having become profitable after many years of losses, though sustaining that profitability will depend on Nigerian production in the near term, and regaining the love of investors might require some good discovery news or proof that they’ve ramped up production … or, of course, a much higher oil price.

But we’re still not done … I’m pretty sure we’re actually talking about four different stocks — starting with Tullow, moving on through Kosmos and Afren, as noted above, and then we get this other little hint near the end of the ad about another pick in his complimentary (aslongasyoupaytosubscribetohisnewsletter) report:

“The Venus rocket. This U.S.-based independent producer announced its Venus exploration well offshore Sierra Leone flowed with both natural gas and light, sweet crude oil. Now, another new well—dubbed Mercury—has just yielded a similar happy discovery. Plus, this busy firm has exposure to major discoveries in Jubilee, Mahogany East, Tweneboa, Enyenra and Teak. Throw in solid positions in the Marcellus, Haynesville and Eagle Ford Shale formations in the U.S. and we’re looking at a stock with plenty of upside catalysts.”

Hoodat? Anadarko, dats hoo. Anadarko (APC), which I mentioned above, is a quieter partner in the offshore Ghana stuff, perhaps because their profile here at home is so substantial (production last year was about 90% in the U.S.). This has become one of the more aggressive US mid-major oil companies as they’ve rebuilt themselves with acquisitions over the last five or six years, they’re pretty large with a market cap around $35 billion but are still growing quickly and are certainly priced for future growth. No stodgy dividend-focused reserves-depleting monster here as we see with some of the majors, APC has a tiny yield of about 0.5% and has all the good buzzwords (Africa, Eagle Ford, Marcellus).

They’ve blown out analyst estimates for three quarters in a row, and are expected to earn $3.39 this year and $4 next year, so that’s a forward PE multiple of about 17. Analysts project that they’ll grow at about 20% a year for the next five years, so if they’re right (and oil and gas prices don’t collapse) the PE is probably reasonable. Anadarko was a junior partner on the Deepwater Horizon, so it’s also unclear what their potential liability for the explosion and oil spill might end up being, if anything.

So there you have it — more companies that have exposure to West African oil, with most of them having either a piece of the giant Jubilee field or nearby potential discoveries. Like any of ’em? Have other favorites? Let us know with a comment below. And if you’ve had the opportunity to try Gue’s Energy Strategist, folks would love to know what you thought — just click here to share your opinion (you can see other subscribers’ reviews in the column to the right).


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