At first glance, oilfield services giant Petrofac (LSE: PFC) may appear a terrific stock selection for income chasers.
Earnings at the business are expected to chug 27% higher in 2017 on the back of an improving oil price. And this phenomenon is predicted to get the firms progressive dividend policy back in business with an anticipated 68-US-cents-per-share reward, up from a forecast 68.2 cents for the last three years.
Consequently Petrofac boasts a gigantic 5.8% dividend yield.
And recent news may prompt many glass-half-full investors to pile into the engineer. Petrofac saidin mid-December: We have secured awards and extensions worth approximately $1.1bn year to date, predominantly in the UK North Sea and Iraq, and we are pursuing a good pipeline of opportunities in the UK and internationally.
The business also booked a $600m contract with the Oman Oil Facilities Development Company for the Salalah LPG project in the south of the country this month.
But stock pickers shouldnt get too excited, in my opinion. Its far too early to predict that the worst is over as the sizeable market imbalance keeps exploration and development budgets under pressure. The firms order backlog stood at $14.5bn as of November 30, down from $17.4bn six months earlier, and theres no reason to expect a sudden uptick as industry confidence remains largely subdued.
And recent supply/demand news doesnt fill me with confidence that crude prices can continue their recent charge higher. Aside from the durability of recent OPEC output accords, producers in North America are stepping into the breach to keep the market swimming in excess oil.
Weak demand also threatens to stem Brents recent charge higher, and with it a significant improvement in capex spending. As a consequence, the likes of Petrofac continue to witness weak demand for their services.
The projected dividend for 2017 is covered 1.8 times by predicted earnings and, while this is hardly a catastrophic reading, Petrofac is also sitting underneath a colossal $900m net debt pile. Given that market conditions remain challenging at best, I reckon the company may struggle to get dividends moving higher this year.
I have no such fears over the dividend outlook at flying giant International Consolidated Airlines Group (LSE: IAG) however, and reckon rocketing passenger numbers should keep dividends riding higher.
Having said that, IAGs flightpath to resplendent and sustained earnings growth is expected to encounter some turbulence in 2017 as fuel costs rise, resulting in a predicted 2% earnings dip.
But City analysts believe this to be a mere blip in the companys growth story, and expect traveller demand to remain robust in Europe and across IAGs Transatlantic operations. On top of this, the flyers increasing focus on its Aer Lingus division to generate growth also improves the companys exposure to the fast-growing low-cost segment.
With ongoing restructuring also creating huge lumps of cash, I reckon investors can put faith in broker projections of a 22.2-euro-cent-per share payout for 2017, and a consequent yield of 4%. Thatsespecially so as this forecast is covered more thanthree times by anticipated earnings.
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