Seadrill Chapter 11 details

Seadrill, a publicly traded company that does offshore oil drilling, filed a Chapter 11 arrangement. The salient terms of the pre-packaged deal are:

The chapter 11 plan of reorganization contemplated by the RSA provides the following distributions, assuming general unsecured creditors accept the plan:

• purchasers of the new secured notes will receive 57.5% of the new Seadrill equity, subject to dilution by the primary structuring fee and an employee incentive plan;
• purchasers of the new Seadrill equity will receive 25% of the new Seadrill equity, subject to dilution by the primary structuring fee and an employee incentive plan;
• general unsecured creditors of Seadrill, NADL, and Sevan, which includes Seadrill and NADL bondholders, will receive their pro rata share of 15% of the new Seadrill common stock, subject to dilution by the primary structuring fee and an employee incentive plan, plus certain eligible unsecured creditors will receive the right to participate pro rata in $85 million of the new secured notes and $25 million of the new equity, provided that general unsecured creditors vote to accept the plan; and
• holders of Seadrill common stock will receive 2% of the new Seadrill equity, subject to dilution by the primary structuring fee and an employee incentive plan, provided that general unsecured creditors vote to accept the plan.

This is one of those strange instances where the common stock was trading like something terrible was going to happen, but in relation to its closing price Monday, they received a relatively good “reward” out of this process, 2% of the company (compared to zero if creditors take this to court).

The question is whether the unsecured debtholders will agree to this arrangement – my paper napkin calculation suggests that bondholders will get about 10 cents on the dollar (probably less after the “subject to dilution” is factored in) compared to the trading around the 25 cent level before this announcement.

Their alternative is that if they vote against the deal, the secured creditors will receive everything.

Please read the Pirate Game for how this will turn out and also a lesson on why being an mid-tier creditor in a Chapter 11 arrangement that requires all capital structures to vote in favour of the agreement can be hazardous to your financial health.

I will also note that Teekay Offshore effectively went through a recapitalization, and this leaves Transocean and Diamond Offshore that both in relatively good standing financially.

Not finding a lot to invest in

Barring any investment discoveries in the next month, the cash balance I will be reporting in June is going to be a considerably high fraction of the portfolio.

While cash is great, it also earns zero yield.

Compounding this problem is the majority of it is in US currency.

Unfortunately I have done some exhaustive scans of the marketplace and there is little in the way of Canadian fixed income opportunities (specifically in the debenture space) that I have seen that warrants anything than a small single-digit allocation. I would consider these to be medium reward to low-medium risk type opportunities. Things that won’t be home runs, but reasonable base hit opportunities.

Rate-reset preferred shares have also piqued my interest strictly on the basis of discounts to par value and some embedded features of interest rate hike protection, but my radar on future interest rates is quite fuzzy at the moment (my suspicion is that Canadian yields will trade as a function of US treasuries and the US Fed is going to take a bit longer than most people expect to raise rates since they do not want to crash their stock market while Obama is still in the President’s seat).

I have yet to fully delve into the US bond space, but right now the most “yield-y” securities in the fixed income sector are revolving around oil and gas companies.

There are plenty of oil and gas companies in Canada that have insolvent entities with outstanding debt issues, so I am not too interested in the US oil and gas sector since the dynamics are mostly the same, just different geographies.

I’m expecting Albertan producers to feel the pain when the royalty regimes are altered once again by their new NDP government. There will be a point of maximum pessimism and chances are that will present a better opportunity than present.

Even a driller like Transocean (NYSE: RIG) that is basically tearing down its own rigs in storage have debt that matures in 2022 yielding about 7.9%. If I was an institutional fund manager I’d consider the debt as being a reasonable opportunity, but I think it would be an even bigger opportunity once the corporation has lost its investment grade credit rating.

Canadian REIT equity give off good yields relative to almost everything else, but my deep suspicion is that these generally present low reward and low-medium risk type opportunities. Residential REITs (e.g. TSX: CAR.UN) I believe have the most fundamental momentum, but the market is pricing them like it is a done deal which is not appealing to myself from a market opportunity.

The conclusion of this post is that a focus on zero-yield securities is likely to bear more fruit. While I am not going to be sticking 100% of the portfolio in Twitter and LinkedIn, the only space where there will probably be outsized risk-reward opportunities left is in stocks that do not give out dividends. It will also be likely that a lot of these cases will involve some sort of special or distressed situations that cannot easily be picked up on a robotic (computerized) screening.

I would not be saddened to see the stock markets crash this summer, albeit I do not think this will be occurring.

General comments – furiously conducting research

I have been intensely researching the oil and gas sector, and specifically looking for companies that have decent metrics and enough fortitude to not be operationally taken down due to financial impacts of low commodity prices. I also have been trying to find collateral damage, typical cases of the baby thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.

There are many, many “hits” on my screens which makes the research very slow going. Specifically I want to know about hedging, and financial covenants and their financial structure in general in addition to the usual metrics. Dredging this stuff is very slow going.

There is a lot of high-yield out there which is trading at quite distressed levels, some of which seems very alluring. But high yield of course comes with risk.

A simple example: Do you want to lend your money to Russia for 10 years even though you are compensated with a 13% yield to maturity? I’d actually gamble that their large cap companies (NYSE: RSX is their ETF) would fare better than an investment in their sovereign debt at the moment.

Here’s a more specific example: Do you want to be a HERO? Specifically (Nasdaq: HERO) Hercules Offshore is a third-tier deepwater drilling firm, which is of a lower tier than Seadrill (Nasdaq: SDRL), Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), Transocean (NYSE: RIG), etc. All of the drillers have gotten killed over the past couple months simply due to the fact that nobody wants to drill into expensive ocean when you can’t even make money on the shale inland.

In HERO’s case, their equity is trading as if the company is already dead, while the bond market is placing their 2019 debt issue at a yield to maturity of about 28%. So, what is more risky: Investing in Vladimir Putin, or Hercules Offshore?

Seadrill, however, is comparable to Russia – roughly 11.5% yield to maturity on 6 year debt vs. 13% for 10-year Russian debt.

Reviewing track record of IPOs and other matters

Now that I have been thinking about some IPOs that I have covered in the past, we have the following:

Whistler Blackcomb (TSX: WB) – I stated in an earlier article that this is one to avoid and I might think about it at $5.30/share and so far nothing has changed this assessment.

Athabasca Oil Sands (TSX: ATH) I did not have a firm valuation opinion other than that the shares seemed to be overpriced at the offering price ($18/share) and stated the following (previous post):

Once this company does go public it would not surprise me that they would get a valuation bump, and other similar companies that already are trading should receive bumps as a result. I have seen this already occur, probably in anticipation of the IPO.

If you had to invest into Athabasca Oil Sands and not anywhere else, I would find it extremely likely there will be a better opportunity to pick up shares post-IPO between now and 2014.

While the valuation pop from the IPO did not materialize (unlike for LinkedIn investors!) the rest of the analysis was essentially correct – investors had the opportunity to pick up shares well below the IPO price (it bottomed out at nearly $10/share in the second half of 2010), although I don’t know whether the company represents a good value at that price or not. I didn’t particularly care because Athabasca Oil Sands has some other baggage that made it un-investable (in my not-so-humble opinion).

While I am reviewing my track record on this site, one of my other predictions dealt with BP, Transocean and Noble Drilling, that:

Over the course of the next 2 years, $10,000 invested in BP (NYSE: BP) at the closing price of June 16, 2010 will under-perform $10,000 evenly invested in Transocean (NYSE: RIG) and Noble (NYSE: NE). Assume dividends are not reinvested and remains as zero-yield cash.

At present, BP would have returned US$14,392.46 to investors, while RIG and NE would have returned US$14,198.52. If I had the ability to close this bet for a mild loss, I would – the political risk for the three companies in question have completely gravitated toward the “status quo” once again after the Gulf of Mexico drilling accident. Drilling capacity is likely to rise, depressing the value of the contractors and favouring BP in this particular bet.

The BP Saga is nearly over

The US government yesterday now allows drilling applications to take place in the Gulf of Mexico. There will be increased scrutiny with respect to contingency plans that will make the already expensive process even more so, but there will eventually be drilling back in the Gulf.

This nearly closes the saga on the BP oil spill – although you hardly hear of any further environmental consequences. The only story left will be a decade of litigation in court to determine who pays for the damages.

Be careful of people touting their horns – what I’m about to write will be a high magnitude of chest-beating.

Earlier, I gave a fairly accurate forecast of the financial consequences. I made a projection on June 16, after BP had cut its dividend, that if you were playing BP, one should purchase BP shares between $25 to $30/share. BP subsequently made it to $26.75/share, which would have resulted in a 65% fill. On July 15, stated that one should exit BP at $45 to $50/share (this is after it spiked up to $39/share), and July 27, I fine-tuned the price model to $42-47/share. I stated that BP should be around that price range by the end of the year.

Currently, BP is trading at $41.50/share, so it is within striking range of this price range where an investor should offload the shares. Indeed, the price risk from the oil spill has been mitigated to a degree from the stock, so investors in BP at this moment should be evaluating the company not with political risk in mind, but operational risk of the various businesses it controls around the world, and of course, the price of oil.

BP still looks undervalued strictly from an earnings and “price of oil” perspective – they have a huge amount of reserves and production going on, and will likely continue to make money in the foreseeable future. Analysts expect the company to earn about $6.51/share in 2011, which gives it a 6.4x P/E ratio, or about 15.7% yield from current earnings. By comparison, Exxon has a 9.7x P/E ratio on 2011 earnings. Even though it is an operational basket case, BP still looks dramatically undervalued.

Always keep in mind that analyst projects tell you what the market is pricing in – so in order to make money from the present, you have to believe the company will make more money than what the analysts are predicting. In theory, the analyst estimates are baked into the current stock price.

One prediction that has not come to fruition yet has been a June 16 prediction that the drillers will fare better than BP – right now, BP is leading the two drillers I selected by about one percent. When re-evaluating the drillers, I think BP is now the better deal.

There is a reason why I do not like large capitalization companies – many other eyeballs have spent time looking at the companies far longer than you have, which makes your potential advantage in properly valuing such companies to be less probable.

BP – When to exit?

Earlier, specifically on June 16, I stated the following about BP:

For people that insist on getting into BP, the next couple weeks should be a good time. The exact timing in terms of price is an unknown variable, but I would estimate layering in 25-30 dollars a share (e.g. if it goes down to 28, you will get a 40% allocation).

Indeed, the common shares fell to a low of 26.75, which means that using the “25-30 dollars a share” algorithm would have resulted in a 62.5% position (e.g. if your typical position is 5% of your portfolio then you would have ended up with 62.5% of 5%, which would be 3.125%). The average price would have been $28.375/share, not factoring in commissions.

Now that BP has risen and the big headline (“they’ve solved the oil leak”) has come out in the news, it brings up questions of what the ideal price to liquidate will be.

I see a two-phased trading approach should work well. The first phase should involve an immediate bump up due to the “news” coming out. This has mostly occurred, as you can see by this one-day chart:

After attracting the initial wave of profit-takers, I anticipate a second wave of demand coming for BP shares which should bring the stock to the $45-50 range. This is the target I would set for my sell order. The simple justification is that I estimate this whole debacle should cost BP about $40 billion dollars, or about $13/share. Before this all began, BP was valued at around $60/share, so simple math would assume an approximate $45-50 valuation, hence the sell point at this price. Assuming the exit is achieved, you would be looking at around a 67% gain on the transaction, which I would estimate between now and the end of the year.

This is a very elementary valuation exercise; naturally to properly model the situation you have to take into assumption the strategic effects of the oil spill (i.e. reduced offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico) but also have to strongly factor political considerations.

I have not and will likely not trade common equity in BP, but I have sold puts on Transocean and they have moved out of the money at present from my initial transactions. They will likely expire in August.

This was probably one of the better trading opportunities I have seen in 2010.

Prediction: BP vs. Drillers

I have now been asked by many different people about the valuation of BP.

My response to them is the same as before: “I would not bother thinking about this [buying shares] until BP has cut their dividend.”

However, I will offer up a prediction:

Over the course of the next 2 years, $10,000 invested in BP (NYSE: BP) at the closing price of June 16, 2010 will under-perform $10,000 evenly invested in Transocean (NYSE: RIG) and Noble (NYSE: NE). Assume dividends are not reinvested and remains as zero-yield cash.

The analysis of BP has converted from a financial/resource calculation to purely a political risk calculation. The current US administration is very adverse towards their non-donor constituents and while BP has donated scalds of money to the Democratic party in 2008, it is very likely they will still be made into a scapegoat for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

I am very interested in the drillers, and I am waiting for one more “shoe” to drop before likely placing some bids. Implied volatility on Transocean would suggest that selling near-the-money put options is a viable strategy for entry, but I am waiting for a price drop before executing on that. This also goes outside of my “don’t invest in companies outside an English-speaking jurisdiction” rule, but there are times to make exceptions and it seems to be close to one.

I also notice that Canadian oil sands companies are getting quite a bid – I am guessing capital is flowing into the politically safe Alberta oil sands. Suncor and Cenovus are the big players here, although there are a couple interesting bitumen plays that have a smaller capitalization worth looking into.

All of these oil investments assumes an implicit risk that the price of oil will at least be stable or preferably increase.