Statutory warning – A long post with links to other analysis.
I have analysed the oil & gas industry and specifically refineries earlier (see here). In addition an analyis of the industry is also posted on my spreadsheet.
The oil majors have not been a part of the current bull run and the main reason is the convoluted pricing and subsidy structure. As a result the sector is not doing too well and may have some opportunities.
I have developed an investment thesis for HPCL which is given below
HPCL is one of the Oil majors with almost 13MMT refining capacity. It is engaged in the business of refining crude and marketing end products. In addition it is also integrating backwards into E&P, lube marketing via its Lube SBU and into the Gas distribution business.
The Oil & gas business in india has one of the worst economics possible. The pricing though supposed to be decontrolled, is still controlled by the government. As a result in a rising crude price scenario, where other Oil majors across the world are minting money, companies like HPCL, BPCL, IOC etc have been bleeding.
The typical Gross refining margins for companies like RPL has been around 10 usd per barrel. A company like HPCL should easily be able to make 6-7 usd / barrel. However in the last 1-2 years the Gross margins have been 3-4 and net margins have been around 1 usd/ barrel.
The above is due to subsidized sales of products such as Petrol, diesel and kerosene etc Due to the above situation, O&G companies have been beaten down and now sell below replacement value of their asset.
The opportunity and investment thesis
HPCL now sells at around 9000 crores. The EV is around 10000-11000 crores at best.
The replacement cost for the assets of HPCL can be calculated as follows
1.Refinery – 13MMT ( greefields projects cost around 1200-1800 Crs/ MMT) – 19000 (approximate)
2.Petrol pumps / retail outlets – 7313 (average cost atleast 1 cr/ outlet – 7000 Crs (approximate)
3.LPG distributors – 2202, customers 2.28 crores - ??
4.Other gas assets such as pipeline – 2000 Crs + (1700 crs invested in last 5 years), avantika gas, Bhagyanagar gas etc.
5.Other assets – some value
6. JV’s – MRP (17%) – 1200 Crs and other JV’s
The above assets can conservatively be valued at 25000 – 30000 Crs. So the company sells at 25-30 % of the replacement value of its assets.
The above discount is definitely not an abberation. It is mainly due to policies of the government. However I think the gap is higher than it should be and the main reason is that the market is assuming that the current state of affairs would continue as is.
I don’t believe the government is going to change its ways, however I think the bottom line of company should improve due to the following reasons
1. The company is currently engaged in diversifying its revenue streams via various initiatives and reduce the impact of the pig headed policies of the government. These initiatives are lube marketing, Gas distribution and retail initiatives and oil trading and risk management. The market is currently not valuing any of these real options.
2. The GRM and net refining margins are at their lowest. Going forward the worst case sceanrio is that they would remain at the same level. If that is the case, the bottom line should still improve as the various company intiatives take effect (see page 53 of Annual report)
3. The 9 MMT refinery and expansion of Vizag refinery to 15 MMT and export of the petro-products and E&P activities should help the company improve its margins going forward.
Although there exists a substantial discount to the assets value and possible cash flows, the gap is not likely to close any time soon. However even if the market reduces the gap to 50-60% of asset value, the returns should be reasonable. In addition the company is selling at a 5 year low in terms of its PE and P/B ratio. The key triggers to watch would be crude prices and the level to which the government compensates for the underrecoveries.