Rising downstream (refinery) profits have helped cushion the impact of lower oil prices, and BPs low debt levels, $29bn cash balance and multi-decade timescales mean that a short-term dip in the price of oil isnt a big problem.
However, BP shares currently trade on 18 times 2015 forecast earnings, and I suspect there could be further downside ahead. At current prices, I dont believe BP is a very appealing buy, or a particularly good way to profit from the eventual oil price recovery.
In my view, the companies best positioned to profit when oil prices recover are cash rich, mid-cap oil producers and in this article Ill highlight three possible choices.
Shares in Genel Energy (LSE: GENL) have fallen by 42% since last June, despite the firm reporting that production rose by 58% to 69,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd) in 2014.
As well as the falling price oil, Genel is suffering because the Kurdistan authorities have not been paying Genel and its peers for the oil theyre exporting.
However, Genel has $490m of cash on hand, and its worth remembering that until July last year, the firms shares were trading at 1,000p around 75% higher than current prices.
SOCO International (LSE: SIA) has a net cash balance of $185m and low $20s per barrel breakeven cost for oil production, according to the firm.
However, falling oil prices and a cautious approach to growth have left the firms shares 32% lower than they were last summer, with the risk of further downside, given SOCOs 2015 forecast P/E of 21.
A 4.0% yield means the risk might be worth taking, as I believe that when oil prices do recover, SOCOs share price could rebound sharply as the firms profits recover.
Dragon Oil (LSE: DGO) trades on a 2015 forecast P/E of just 9.8, despite the collapse in the price of oil.
Dragon has net cash of $1,975m, no debt and a 5.7% prospective yield. The firms Turkmenistan oil fields are prolific and very low cost, and the firms finances look absolutely bombproof.
I believe a price of 600p+ is realistic when the oil price recovers, but the catch is that Dragons majority shareholder is the Emirates National Oil Company, making a takeover bid very unlikely.
As always, if you’re considering hitting the buy button on any of these stocks, I’d suggest you carry out further research before making a final decision.
Investing in commodity stocks carries specific risks and share prices can be very volatile.
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