Oil company valuation – general note

Most oil producing companies also produce natural gas. Since natural gas is an input to gasoline production, typically companies internalize their natural gas production to their operations. However, many oil and gas companies produce excess natural gas and this contributes to their income.

Watch out for some earnings disappointments due to lower natural gas prices. Cenovus (TSX: CVE), for example, announced less than consensus earnings this morning due to natural gas pricing. Another company that is due to report that has significant natural gas production is Arc Energy Trust (TSX: AET.UN).

I am just a passive observer of these two companies, in addition to many others in the sector. There are nuggets of value here and there, but all of those are in the non-dividend bearing category. Companies like Cenovus (and its sister entity, Encana) are good stores of value in energy, but are unlikely to triple in valuation if energy commodities increase. They should almost be treated like annuities, assuming fossil fuels are not supplanted by something with superior energy density in the future (not in my lifetime).