2014

The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: McGraw-Hill Financial, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Matador Resources and Portfolio Recovery Associates

CHICAGO, Aug. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include the McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. (NYSE: MHFI-Free Report), Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM-Free Report), Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX-Free Report), Matador Resources Co. (NYSE: MTDR-Free Report) and Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. (Nasdaq: PRAA-Free Report).

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Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

Here are highlights from Thursday's Analyst Blog:

Crude Prices Fall Despite Supply Drop

The U.S. Energy Department's weekly inventory release showed that crude stockpiles logged a larger-than-expected decline. The report further revealed that within the 'refined products' category, gasoline stocks plunged, while distillate supplies were up from the week-ago level. Meanwhile, refiners unexpectedly scaled up their utilization rates by 1.6%.

Despite the supportive crude data from the U.S. government and the ongoing unrest in Egypt that could destabilize the resource-rich Middle East and further tighten the global supply picture, the commodity's price retreated back below $104 a barrel. This was mainly on account of the minutes from the Federal Reserve's July meeting that suggested that the U.S. may taper its monetary stimulus later this year.    

Traders have voiced concerns that Fed's shift away from the bond buying policy may lead to dollar-denominated oil prices to increase in local-currency terms in emerging markets, thus slowing growth.  

About the Weekly Petroleum Status Report

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) Petroleum Status Report, containing data of the previous week ending Friday, outlines information regarding the weekly change in petroleum inventories held and produced by the U.S., both locally and abroad.

The report provides an overview of the level of reserves and their movements, thereby helping investors understand the demand/supply dynamics of petroleum products. It is an indicator of current oil prices and volatility that affect the businesses of the companies engaged in the oil and refining industry.

Analysis of the Data

Crude Oil: The federal government's EIA report revealed that crude inventories fell by 1.43 million barrels for the week ending Aug 16, 2013, following a decrease of 2.81 million barrels in the previous week.

The analysts surveyed by Platts – the energy information arm of McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. (NYSE: MHFI-Free Report) – had expected crude stocks to go down some 1 million barrels. An uptick in refinery processing rates and lower domestic production led to the stockpile drawdown with the world's biggest oil consumer even as imports rose.

In particular, crude inventories at the Cushing terminal in Oklahoma – the key delivery hub for U.S. crude futures traded on the New York Mercantile Exchange – were down 1.09 million barrels from the previous week's level to 37.43 million barrels. Stocks are currently at their lowest since Mar last year and 27.8% under the all-time high of 51.86 million barrels reached in Jan.

As a result of the seventh weekly inventory decline in 8 weeks, at 359.06 million barrels, current crude supplies are at their lowest level since Aug. 31, last year. It is now down slightly (by 0.4%) from the year-ago period, though it is still close to the upper limit of the average for this time of the year. The crude supply cover remained at 22.7 days – same as in the previous week. In the year-ago period, the supply cover was 23.2 days.

Gasoline: Supplies of gasoline were down for the second time in as many weeks, as domestic consumption strengthened and imports dropped. This was partially offset by rise in production.

The 4.03 million barrels withdrawal – comfortably outpacing analysts' projections for a 1.5 million-barrels decrease in supply level – took gasoline stockpiles down to 218.40 million barrels. Notwithstanding this drawdown, the existing inventory level of the most widely used petroleum product is 7.7% higher than the year-earlier level and is in the top half of the average range.

Distillate: Distillate fuel supplies (including diesel and heating oil) were up 871,000 barrels last week, just short of analysts' expectations for a 1 million barrels rise in inventory level. The increase in distillate fuel stocks – the third in as many weeks – could be attributed to higher imports and production.

At 129.35 million barrels, distillate supplies are 3.4% above the year-ago level but is close to the lower limit of the average range for this time of the year.

Refinery Rates: Refinery utilization edged up 1.6% from the prior week to 91.0%. The analysts were expecting the refinery run rate to decrease 0.5% to 88.9%.

Stocks to Consider

Despite concerns, with spot crude price staying strong – at around $104 a barrel – brokerage analysts are likely to upgrade their forecasts on oil-weighted companies and related support plays, leading to positive estimate revisions.

While all crude-focused stocks – including behemoths like Exxon Mobil Corp. (NYSE: XOM-Free Report) and Chevron Corp. (NYSE: CVX-Free Report) – stand to benefit from rising commodity prices, companies in the exploration and production (E&P) sector are the best placed, as they will be able to extract more value for their products.

In particular, one can look at Matador Resources Co. (NYSE: MTDR-Free Report) – a small-cap, undervalued E&P player – as a good buying opportunity. Dallas TX-based Matador Resources, sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy), with current focus on the high-return Eagle Ford shale formation in South Texas, is expected to witness earnings growth of 287% in 2013.

Moreover, a price-to-book (P/B) ratio of just 2.5 suggests that the stock is still undervalued. In fact, shares of Matador Resources have risen from $12.78 to $17.29 since we recommended it on Crude Prices Surge: 3 Stocks to Buy Now on Jul 22.

Portfolio Recovery Increases Credit Facility

Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc. (Nasdaq: PRAA-Free Report), a leading financial services company recently increased its lenders' domestic revolving credit commitments by $35.5 million to $633 million. On Dec 19, 2012, Portfolio Recovery entered into a $597.5 million Credit Agreement with a group of banks.

As per the amendment, three new lenders viz. Bank of Hampton Roads, Heritage Bank and Union First Market were added. Moreover, three other lenders associated with the agreement, made adjustments to their credit commitments.

The aggregate credit facility with a principal amount of $633 million now consists of a fully-funded term loan, a domestic revolving credit facility and a multi-currency revolving credit facility. The term loan is worth $197.5 million while domestic revolving credit facility is of $415.5 million, which can be fully drawn. The amount of multi-currency credit facility is $20 million, all of which is available for withdrawal.  All the three components of the credit facility under the Credit Agreement are expected to mature on Dec 19, 2017.

Additionally last week Portfolio Recovery sold its $287.5 million convertible senior notes that were scheduled to mature in 2020. We believe that this amendment in the credit facility coupled with closing of the senior notes will strengthen the financial position of Portfolio Recovery and assist it to grasp any forthcoming opportunity for growth.

Portfolio Recovery seems promising with a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Today, Zacks is promoting its ''Buy'' stock recommendations. Get #1Stock of the Day pick for free.

About Zacks Equity Research

Zacks Equity Research provides the best of quantitative and qualitative analysis to help investors know what stocks to buy and which to sell for the long-term.

Continuous coverage is provided for a universe of 1,150 publicly traded stocks. Our analysts are organized by industry which gives them keen insights to developments that affect company profits and stock performance. Recommendations and target prices are six-month time horizons.

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