Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BP Announces Second Quarter 2012 Results

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BP today reported its quarterly results for the second quarter of 2012. Underlying replacement cost profit for the quarter, adjusted for non operating items and fair value accounting effects, was $3.7 billion, compared with $5.7 billion for the same period in 2011 and $4.8 billion for the first quarter of 2012.

Compared to the previous quarter, the underlying results were depressed by weaker oil and US gas prices together with reductions in output due to extensive planned maintenance, particularly affecting high margin production from the Gulf of Mexico, and lower net income from TNK-BP. This was partly offset by a beneficial consolidation adjustment to unrealised profit in inventory.

BP’s share of net income from TNK-BP was $700 million lower than the first quarter, driven by the impact of the rapid fall in oil prices amplified by the lag in Russian oil export duty, which is based on earlier higher oil prices. At current Urals prices, net income in the third quarter is expected to show some positive reversal of the duty lag.

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Bob Dudley, BP group chief executive, said: “We recognise this was a weak earnings quarter, driven by a combination of factors affecting both the sector and BP specifically. “The effects of price movements have impacted our earnings in the quarter. Our extensive turnaround and maintenance programme, which will continue into the third quarter, is also affecting some aspects of our near term results. All of this will take time, but it is important investment that will enhance safety and reliability for the long term.

As we deliver this major transformation, we are also committed to generating sustainable efficiencies in our operations. “Rebuilding trust with our shareholders and other stakeholders is vitally important. We are making progress against the critical strategic and operational targets we have set ourselves and are confident that this will deliver long term, sustainable value.”

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Anadarko Announces Second Quarter 2012 Results [APC]

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Anadarko Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: APC) today announced a second quarter 2012 net loss attributable to common stockholders of $380 million, or $0.76 per share (diluted). These results include certain items typically excluded by the investment community in published estimates. In total, these items decreased net income by approximately $804 million, or $1.61 per share (diluted), on an after-tax basis.(1) Cash flow from operating activities in the second quarter of 2012 was approximately $2 billion, and discretionary cash flow totaled $1.951 billion.(2)

Second Quarter 2012 Highlights

* Delivered record daily sales volumes of 742,000 barrels of oil equivalent (BOE)
* Increased oil sales volumes by approximately 20,000 barrels per day over first quarter 2012
* Generated more than $1.9 billion of discretionary cash flow from operating activities
* Discovered second major natural gas complex offshore Mozambique
* Increased estimated recoverable resources at the Gulf of Mexico Vito field to more than 300 million BOE

"Anadarko's positive momentum continued through the second quarter of 2012 with strong operating performance, delivering record sales volumes and enabling us to increase the midpoint of our full-year sales-volumes guidance by 3 million BOE without increasing capital," Anadarko President and CEO Al Walker said. "With record sales volumes and significant free cash flow during the first half of the year, our deep portfolio and efficient capital allocation continues to deliver growth and value in the current price environment. We are committed to operating within cash flow and selectively accelerating the value of longer dated projects, as we did at the Gulf of Mexico Lucius development and the Salt Creek field in Wyoming during the quarter. The execution of our strategy is expected to continue to deliver industry leading operating performance and exploration success, offering very competitive value creation opportunities."

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Monday, July 30, 2012

The Federal Reserve, Gold, Crude Oil and the Dollar’s Demise

The Federal Reserve through its various monetary mechanisms has a major impact on the value of the U.S. Dollar and over time has destroyed the purchasing power of the fiat base currency used in the United States.
Interestingly enough, the following quote comes directly from the Federal Reserve’s website regarding one of its primary mandates, “In setting monetary policy, the Committee seeks to mitigate deviations of inflation from its longer-run goal and deviations of employment from the Committee’s assessment of its maximum level.”
The chart below illustrates the horrific job the Federal Reserve has done of protecting the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar since its creation.
Dollar Creation By The Federal Reserve
In light of the longer-term malaise seen above, the Dollar Index futures have recently rallied sharply higher as Europe continues to flail in a slow and agonizing decline which will ultimately lead to a complete fiscal disaster.
Sovereign debt concerns continue to mount regardless of what the European technocrats spew publicly and the U.S. Dollar has been the primary beneficiary of these seemingly growing concerns.
This brings me to the purpose of this article. Most of the articles I write are focused on option based trades, but I decided it was time to put forth a more comprehensive scenario that could unfold over the next few years as a result of excessive monetary stimulus through various quantitative easing mechanisms developed by the Federal Reserve Bank.  “A mild change” to say the least . . .
As discussed above, the U.S. Dollar Index futures have moved higher throughout most of 2012. Any significant increase in the U.S. Dollar is a growing concern among central bankers as it correlates toward deflation. Deflation is the Fed’s biggest enemy, besides themselves of course.
Next week the Federal Reserve will release statements relating to the economic condition of the United States. Furthermore, the Fed also will discuss if it will initiate another dose of monetary crack for a capital market place that is addicted to cheap money and zero interest rates. At this point, the so-called marketplace is the antithesis of free by all standard measures.
Consider the long-term monthly chart of the U.S. Dollar Index futures illustrated below:
Dollar Index Value Chart
The U.S. Dollar Index futures are in an uptrend that dates back to mid 2011. The orange line illustrates the uptrend and represents a key price level for the U.S. Dollar Index. For those unfamiliar with basic technical analysis, the rising orange trendline will act as buying support until the Dollar eventually breaks down through it signaling the bullish move higher has ended.
This brings us to a rather interesting potential observation. Today Mario Draghi, Chairman of the European Central Bank (ECB), made public comments regarding the readiness of the ECB to act if need be to safeguard the European Union. The Dollar Index Futures plummeted on the statement and remained under selling pressure most of the trading session on Thursday.
If a mere comment from the ECB can have such a damaging impact on the valuation of the Dollar, what would happen to the Dollar if the Fed initiated a new easing mechanism?
The answer is simple, the U.S. Dollar would immediately be under selling pressure. Selling pressure in the U.S. Dollar Index generally leads to a rally in risk assets such as equities and oil futures. Over the longer-term, a weak Dollar is also positive for precious metals and other hard assets.
As an example to illustrate the power of Quantitative Easing as it relates to the price of both gold and oil, consider the following chart:
Spot Gold Price Chart
Obviously the price action is pretty clear that Quantitative Easing has a positively correlated impact on the price performance of hard assets, specifically gold and oil. Now consider a price chart of the Dollar Index shown below courtesy of the Federal Reserve Bank, the annotations are mine.
Quantitative Easing Effects
The chart above tells an interesting story about the impact that Quantitative Easing has on the Dollar. How can the Federal Reserve claim to be protecting the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar when its actions have a direct negative correlation to the greenback’s price?
Furthermore, based on the chart above I am of the opinion that Quantitative Easing III is a foregone conclusion. The current price of the Dollar Index is clearly above the previous high where QE2 was launched. So far, the rally in the Dollar Index has not pushed equity prices considerably lower. However, should the Federal Reserve refrain from initiating additional easing measures it is likely based on the chart above that the U.S. Dollar Index will rally.
Upon the conclusion of both QE and QE2, the Dollar Index rallied sharply higher. With the Fed announcement coming closer by the hour, financial pundits will attempt to predict the future action of the Fed.
I have no interest in making predictions about what the Fed will do. It is a certainty that QE3 will take place at some point in the future whether it be sooner or later. The Federal Reserve simply has no choice, otherwise the Dollar would continue to rally and we would begin to go through a deflationary period which the Federal Reserve simply cannot tolerate.
The scenario that I would urge inquiring minds to consider would be as follows. If the Fed does nothing we can likely assume that the U.S. Dollar Index will continue to rally to the upside. Based on the price chart of the U.S. Dollar Index shown above, we can expect that sellers would certainly step in around the 86 – 88 price range based on previous resistance.
If the U.S. Dollar makes it anywhere near the 86 – 88 price range without the Federal Reserve initiating QE3 it would be expected that risk assets would be under considerable selling pressure somewhere along the way. Should the Fed act to break the Dollar’s rally either through more easing or “other” mechanisms, the result would be a potentially monster rally for risk assets, at least initially.
Equities, oil, and precious metals would rally on a falling Dollar as shown above. The question then becomes what if this is the last gasp rally before a monster selloff ensues in the Dollar Index?
If the Fed breaks the rally early or initiates a monster-sized easing program, the initial reaction will be quite positive, especially for equities. As the selloff in the Dollar Index worsens, equities would eventually begin to underperform as oil prices would surge putting pressure on the economy.
In addition to oil rallying on the weaker Dollar, we could also see sellers start to show up in droves dumping U.S. Treasury’s to any buyer left standing. International debt holders would especially have incentive to sell Treasury’s as the real purchasing power of the bonds’ interest payments would decline as the Dollar fell in value.
The way I see it, whether the Fed launches QE3 now or later, the outcome will not change. An extremely weak Dollar could wreak havoc across a variety of assets and the broader economy. Imagine where gasoline prices would be if oil prices hit $125 / barrel. The average price in the U.S. would be well above $5 / gallon based on current prices and possibly higher.
What happens to the economy if interest rates start to react violently to the price action in the Dollar? What if Treasury’s start to sell off viciously and interest rates start to rise wildly and volatility among bond holdings runs rampant? Are we to believe that the very entity that has created boom and bust cycles through easy monetary policies and has been oblivious to the bubbles that it has created is capable of solving the issues that would potentially arise from a currency crash in the U.S. Dollar?
The track record of the Federal Reserve is quite clear. They are generally late to the party and rarely are able to forecast events in the future with any clarity. Do you really think they will know what to do? The free market wants to destroy debt through deflationary pressure and price discovery and the Federal Reserve continues to get in the way.
The free market will win as it always does, but the American people will lose. This process may take months, years, or even decades to play out. Eventually the game will end. There is only one certainty should any portion of the scenario discussed above come to fruition, when the Dollar is inevitably broken the only safe place to hide during the potential currency crash will be in physical gold and silver. Paper money and paper assets will come under extreme selling pressure and in some cases will simply........disappear.
Here’s to hoping I am totally wrong!
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Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crude Oil Prices Will Be Driven by the Externals This Week

From CME Group contributor Dominick Chirihella......

Last week was all about jawboning out of Europe. First from ECB President Draghi followed up by comments from Germany's Merkel reinforcing Draghi's main comment that the ECB will do everything to support the euro. Support for this type of comment from Merkel is very important as Germany is where the money is. For now the jawboning was enough to send many risk asset markets into a modest end of the week short covering rally. However, we can't lose sight that these type of comments have been coming out of Europe for the last three years and so far the sovereign debt issues are still not solved.

The big question is will the bold comments finally be converted to actions. Especially this coming week as the ECB holds its monthly meeting on Thursday August 2. Will the ECB initiate a bold solution that puts the EU problems on the back burner once and for all which has not been the case for the last several years. Will they simply lower short term interest rates and issue the usual support of the euro comments or will their actions include stimulus and some form of bond backing or buying of bonds from the troubles EU member states?

Whatever the ECB decides to do this week the market is now expecting actions that will support the debt problems and drive down the bond yields of the problem countries as well as send the euro into a much longer lasting rally that goes well beyond a simple modest short covering rally like we saw the last two trading days of last week. With the market now trading over the last few session with a strong ray of hope that the ECB and the EU will finally get a handle on the problems any disappointment next week will result in a huge push to the downside in the euro as well as in global equity markets.

Who said August is a quiet and sleepy time for global risk asset markets? Yes many participants are at the peak of the summer vacation season coupled with the London Summer Olympics at its peak but that is not going to prevent the markets from potentially active and volatile trading over the upcoming week and possibly for the rest of the summer. In addition to what is setting up to be a major ECB meeting on Thursday the US Federal Reserve FOMC will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday with many expecting the Fed to embark on a new round of quantitative easing of some form. The US economy has slowed to just a 1.5% growth rate a decline of 0.5% from the first quarter. The employment situation is not getting any better and the plethora of economic data that has hit the media airwaves over the last month or so has been supportive of further slowing of the US economy.

Is there enough negative data to support the Fed taking action now (as a recent WSJ article suggested) or will the Fed take a wait and see of what comes out for the ECB on Thursday while it awaits more data points like Friday's latest nonfarm payroll data? A new round of easing out of the US Fed is not a slam dunk at this meeting in my opinion. I think there are many reasons why it will be prudent for the Fed to wait another month or two before initiating a new round of easing that many believe will have limited success in bolstering the US economy and spurting the private sector hiring process. I do not think the Fed will act at this meeting and save their next so called silver bullet until the end of August at the Jackson Hole symposium (possibly mentioned in Bernanke's speech) or until the mid September FOMC meeting.

Just click here to read Dominick Chirihellas entire article

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Still Doubting COT Favorite SeaDrill? SDRL

If you are still doubting the crew at Seadrill's (SDRL) ability to keep up with the current dividend this may be yet another reason to....think again. The latest news of a $4 billion commitment for the use of three offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico should assuage concerns about the company's ability to contract out all the rigs it has ordered as speculation rigs. Calculating the contract works out to $576,800 per rig per day over six plus years and increases SDRL's contract revenue backlog by nearly a third.

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EIA: Rail Deliveries of Crude Oil and Petroleum Products up 38% in First Half of 2012

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

Railroads are playing a more important role in transporting U.S. crude oil to refineries, especially oil production from North Dakota's Bakken formation where there is limited pipeline infrastructure to move supplies. The amount of crude oil and petroleum products transported by U.S. railways during the first half of 2012 increased 38% from the same period in 2011, according to industry data.

The number of rail tanker cars hauling crude oil and petroleum products totaled close to 241,000 during January-June 2012 compared to 174,000 over the same period in 2011, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Rail deliveries of crude oil and petroleum products in June alone jumped 51% to 42,000 tanker cars from a year earlier to an average weekly record high of 10,500 tanker cars for the month.

One rail tanker car holds about 700 barrels. This would be equivalent to about 927,000 barrels per day (bbl/d) of oil and petroleum products shipped, on average, during the first half of 2012 versus 673,000 bbl/d in the same period in 2011, and June 2012 shipments were almost 980,000 bbl/d.

graph of Average weekly U.S. rail carloads of crude oil and petroleum products, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration, based on Association of American Railroads.
Note: Crude oil and petroleum products rail shipments do not include ethanol. 

In 2009, crude oil accounted for 3% of the combined deliveries in the oil and petroleum products category tracked by AAR. The trade group estimates crude oil now accounts for almost 30% of the rail deliveries in this category, and says that crude oil is responsible for nearly all of the recent growth.

Much of the growth in shipping oil by rail is due to the rise in North Dakota's oil production, which has more than tripled in the last three years. North Dakota surpassed California in December 2011 to become the third biggest oil producing state and took over the number two spot from Alaska in March 2012.

Most crude oil is moved in the United States by pipeline. However, because of limited pipeline infrastructure in North Dakota's Bakken region, oil producing companies there rely on rail to move their barrels. Shipping oil by rail costs an average $10 per barrel to $15 per barrel nationwide, up to three times more expensive than the $5 per barrel it costs to move oil by pipeline, according to estimates from Wolfe Trahan, a New York City based research firm that focuses on freight transportation costs. Wolfe Trahan also notes that using rail tank cars allows oil producers to separate grades of crude more easily and ensure their purity than when different oils are mixed in a pipeline.

Argus Media reports that rail rates for unit trains moving Bakken oil to major refining centers on the Gulf Coast are about $12.75 per barrel to St. James, Louisiana and $12.25 per barrel to Port Arthur, Texas. The unit train delivery rate to New York Harbor is around $15 per barrel.
BNSF is the biggest railway mover of U.S. crude, transporting one-third of Bakken oil production alone with unit trains carrying up to 85,000 barrels of oil. The company's carloadings of crude oil and petroleum products increased 60% during the first six months of 2012.

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Friday, July 27, 2012

Chevron Reports Second Quarter Net Income of $7.2 Billion

SP500, Russell 2K, Dollar Index and Gold’s – Fake out or Shakeout?

Chevron Corporation (NYSE: CVX) today reported earnings of $7.2 billion ($3.66 per share – diluted) for the second quarter 2012, compared with $7.7 billion ($3.85 per share – diluted) in the 2011 second quarter.

“Our second quarter earnings and cash flow were among our strongest ever, even with softer oil markets,” said Chairman and CEO John Watson. “Despite current weakness in the global economy, we continue to invest in our long term growth projects to help deliver affordable energy to meet future demand. We took several important steps to advance our major upstream capital projects, in particular achieving milestones in our natural gas development projects in the Asia-Pacific region. We also expanded our global exploration resource acreage, including new leases in the Gulf of Mexico where we already hold a significant position.”

Read the entire earnings report

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

SP500, Russell 2K, Dollar Index and Gold’s – Fake out or Shakeout?

Today has been quite a trading session with risk assets rocketing higher after Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank reiterated what has already been stated. The S&P 500 Index (SPX) is posting some nice gains, but price has not taken out the recent ascending trendline illustrated in the daily chart of SPX shown below. Until that ascending trendline is taken out, the bears remain in control of the price action.
S&P 500 Index (SPX) Daily Chart
SPX Index Chart
Today’s rally has certainly served to work off short term oversold conditions. With the first GDP estimate for the 2nd Quarter scheduled for tomorrow things could get interesting. In the meantime, the closing price today is key. My expectation is that we will not see the S&P 500 Index push back above the ascending trendline today. For the price action to flip back bullish, we need a much stronger than expected GDP result tomorrow.
Another key daily chart which helps provide support that the bears remain in control of the price action is the Russell 2000 Index (RUT). The RUT has given back roughly 50% of its entire move and at this point has failed to even regain the 200 period moving average on the daily chart. Price action would need to climb over 20 points to simply backtest the breakdown level illustrated below.
Russell 2000 Index (RUT) Daily Chart
IWM Index Chart
As long as the RUT holds below the key rising trendline, the bulls must be questioned. However, should the S&P 500 Index and the RUT push back above the ascending trendlines on their daily charts I will become much more constructive regarding the short to intermediate time frames for risk assets.
The other key chart of the day can be found no further than the U.S. Dollar Index futures. The U.S. Dollar Index futures absolutely collapsed today and move all the way down to test the 50 period moving average on the daily chart. So far, the short-term rising trendline has offered support along with the 50 period moving average and the Dollar has bounced sharply higher.
U.S. Dollar Index Futures Daily Chart
UUP Dollar Index Chart

As long as price holds above the short-term rising trendline, the Dollar will be able to continue to push higher from this level. Should a breakdown occur we have even more support below around the $81 price level. After a move this strong, it could take days and maybe even weeks for the Dollar to regain its footing. However, the forthcoming Federal Reserve announcement next week will likely seal the Dollar’s fate.
Gold and silver futures are both trading nicely higher on the session in light of the weaker Dollar. However, both precious metals have faded later today as the Dollar started to drift back to the upside. Gold and silver are trying to breakout, but we need to see some continuation before I intend to get involved.
Gold Futures Daily Chart
Gold Bullion Chart
Sometimes weak breakouts in price action can lead to ugly reversals. I’m not suggesting that a failed breakout will occur in gold and silver futures, but I remain cautious as the breakout so far does not have me totally convinced. Volume in silver is not spiking like it should be and gold volume is also weak considering the possibility that major breakouts are taking place.  Another element that is simply not confirming with strong price action or volume is the gold miners. On a day like today, all that they can muster is a relatively small gain on super light volume. Caution is warranted!
Oil futures are also not shooting considerably higher even though the Dollar remains under pressure. To me, today seems like it could be a misdirection day based on the price action and lack of volume we are seeing to the upside in hard assets like gold, silver, and oil. In addition, volume in the major equity indices and futures is super light. For now, I am going to remain cautious and will likely look to avoid taking on any major risk until the dust settles on the GDP number and the Fed’s future decision. Sometimes sitting in cash is not so bad after all!

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Is Gold Ready to Run to All Time High?

Just under two weeks ago I updated my subscribers with a chart pattern on the GLD ETF, and in that update we discussed what to look for to find clues in this GOLD consolidation that has continued from last August-September highs. My theory all along has been that we peaked in a “Wave Three” top at 1900-1920 last fall after a Fibonacci 34 month rally from $681 per ounce. The ensuing corrective patterns are part of a normal “Wave 4” consolidation that works off the sentiment and overbought nature of that wave 3 updraft. Following this consolidation, I fully expect GOLD to continue past the $1900 per ounce area and run to $2300 per ounce or higher in a Wave 5 rally into the summer of 2013.

What can we continue to watch for clues though as to when this new uptrend begins? Specifically a close over 158 on the GLD ETF (About $1630 on the GOLD Charts) would confirm that the wave 4 lows are in at the $1520 area and the early stages of Primary wave 5 to the upside have begun. The only downside risk I have near term between now and October is if we drop below 153 on the GLD ETF, it would likely point to GOLD dropping to the $1445-$1455 per ounce area, the same low target I have had for 9 plus months now as the worst case downside.

Advice would be to start scaling into long positions on a break over 158 on the GLD ETF and adding on pullbacks along the way up. If we can’t break 158 then the advice is to sit back and watch before acting.

Below is the chart I completed for my subscribers about fourteen or so days ago, and we continue to use it as our short term indicator for the next leg up or down. Eventually, gold will run to all time highs, we simply would like to time our entry and reduce our risk as much as possible.

If you would like to receive occasional free weekly reports on the SP 500, gold and silver  sign up at Market Trend Forecast and or take advantage now of a one time 33% off discount code to subscribe and receive updates five days a week.

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National Oilwell Varco Announces Second Quarter 2012 Earnings

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

National Oilwell Varco, Inc. (NYSE: NOV) today reported that for its second quarter ended June 30, 2012 it earned net income of $605 million, or $1.42 per fully diluted share. Earnings per share increased 26 percent compared to the second quarter of 2011 and were sequentially flat compared to the first quarter of 2012. Excluding transaction charges of $28 million pre tax, second quarter 2012 net income was $626 million, or $1.46 per fully diluted share.

The Company’s revenues for the second quarter of 2012 were $4.7 billion, which improved 10 percent from the first quarter of 2012 and 35 percent from the second quarter of 2011. Operating profit for the second quarter of 2012 was $907 million or 19.2 percent of sales, excluding transaction charges. Year over year second quarter operating profit increased 27 percent and sequentially second quarter operating profit increased three percent.

Backlog for capital equipment orders for the Company’s Rig Technology segment was $11.28 billion at June 30, 2012, up nine percent from the end of the first quarter and up 46 percent from the end of the second quarter of 2011. During the second quarter of 2012 the Company’s Rig Technology segment booked incoming new capital equipment orders of $2.73 billion (through a combination of $2.22 billion in new orders and $0.51 billion in orders through acquisitions completed during the quarter) offset by revenues out of backlog of $1.82 billion.

Pete Miller, Chairman, President and CEO of National Oilwell Varco, remarked, “Our Company achieved strong earnings this quarter, thanks to the hard work of our many dedicated employees. All three segments posted higher sequential and year over year revenues and operating profit, and we are pleased at the high level of demand we continue to see for new drilling equipment.

The Company continues to expand organically as well as through acquisitions. We closed six transactions during the quarter for total consideration of $2.0 billion, to strengthen the technology, product and service offerings we provide our oil and gas customers around the globe. Most markets we serve have remained buoyant, despite lower commodity prices, and we therefore expect solid results for the second half of the year.”

Read the entire earnings report

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Exxon Mobil Announces Second Quarter 2012 Results

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

Exxon Mobil Corporation free trend analysis > NYSE:XOM
Second Quarter First Half
2012 2011 % 2012   2011 %
Earnings Excluding Special Items 1
$ Millions 15,910 10,680 49 25,360 21,330 19
$ Per Common Share
Assuming Dilution 3.41 2.18 56 5.41 4.32 25
Special Items
$ Millions 0 0 0 0
$ Millions 15,910 10,680 49 25,360 21,330 19
$ Per Common Share
Assuming Dilution 3.41 2.18 56 5.41 4.32 25
Capital and Exploration
Expenditures - $ Millions 9,339 10,306 -9 18,173 18,127 0

“Second quarter results reflect our ongoing commitment to develop and deliver the energy needed to help meet global demand and underpin economic recovery and growth. Despite global economic uncertainty, we continue to invest throughout the business cycle taking a long-term view of resource development.

“Second quarter earnings of $15.9 billion included a net gain of $7.5 billion associated with divestments and tax-related items. Excluding these items, second quarter earnings were $8.4 billion.

“Capital and exploration expenditures were $9.3 billion in the second quarter and a record $18.2 billion for the first six months of 2012 as we progress our plans to invest about $37 billion per year over the next five years to help meet the global demand for energy.

“The Corporation distributed $7.7 billion to shareholders in the second quarter through dividends and share purchases to reduce shares outstanding.”

  • Earnings of $15,910 million increased $5,230 million or 49% from the second quarter of 2011. Earnings included a net gain of $7.5 billion associated with divestments and tax-related items.
  • On June 1, ExxonMobil completed the restructuring of its Downstream and Chemical holdings in Japan. Under the restructuring, TonenGeneral Sekiyu K.K. (TG) purchased ExxonMobil’s shares in a wholly-owned affiliate in Japan for approximately $3.9 billion. As a result, ExxonMobil’s effective ownership of TG was reduced from 50% to 22%.
  • Earnings per share (assuming dilution) were $3.41, an increase of 56%.
  • Capital and exploration expenditures were $9.3 billion, down 9% from the second quarter of 2011.
  • Oil-equivalent production decreased 5.6% from the second quarter of 2011. Excluding the impacts of entitlement volumes, OPEC quota effects and divestments, production was essentially flat.
  • Cash flow from operations and asset sales was $13.9 billion, including proceeds associated with asset sales of $3.7 billion.
  • Share purchases to reduce shares outstanding were $5 billion.
  • Dividends per share of $0.57 increased 21% compared to the second quarter of 2011.
  • ExxonMobil and Rosneft signed agreements to jointly develop tight oil reserves in Western Siberia and establish a joint Arctic Research Center for Offshore Developments.
  • ExxonMobil has filed permit applications to progress plans for a world class petrochemical expansion on the U.S. Gulf Coast, in anticipation of a 2016 start-up. The potential project would include a new ethane cracker and premium product facilities at ExxonMobil’s integrated Baytown complex in Texas.
  • ExxonMobil and joint venture partner Saudi Basic Industries Corporation will proceed with construction of a world scale specialty elastomers facility. The 400 thousand metric tons per year facility will be integrated with the existing Al Jubail complex in Saudi Arabia, and completion is anticipated in 2015.

    Read the entire earnings report at ExxonMobil.Com
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Spot Natural Gas Prices at Marcellus Trading Point Reflect Pipeline Constraints

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

Daily natural gas spot prices between Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Zone 4 Marcellus and Henry Hub have diverged recently largely due to rising Marcellus production, which has outpaced the growth of available take away pipeline capacity in northern Pennsylvania. As a result, the spot price of natural gas at the TGP Zone 4 Marcellus trading point has fallen, at times considerably, below the spot price at Henry Hub in Louisiana, and is currently the least expensive wholesale natural gas in North America.

To address this rapid growth in natural gas production, several Northeast interstate pipeline projects were completed in 2011, adding nearly 1.5 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) of capacity in Pennsylvania. Many additional pipeline projects have been proposed or are in various stages of completion in the Northeast to reduce transportation constraints caused by growing Marcellus natural gas production. EIA's website has information on the status of some of these pipeline projects.

graph of Daily spot natural gas prices at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Zone 4 marcellus and Henry Hub trading points, January 1 - July 23, 2012, as described in the article text

Dry natural gas production in Pennsylvania, a key part of the Marcellus supply basin, continues to grow and according to Bentek Energy is now approaching 6 Bcf/d. Estimated June 2012 Marcellus dry natural gas production (5.7 Bcf/d) has nearly doubled since June 2011 (2.9 Bcf/d) and represents about 9% of overall U.S. dry natural gas production. Further, Bentek Energy estimates that there are over 1,000 natural gas wells that have been drilled in northern Pennsylvania but which are not yet producing natural gas because there is not enough interstate and gathering pipeline infrastructure to accommodate the new production.

graph of Estimated average monthly dry natural gas production in Pennsylvania, January 2008 - June 2012, as described in the article text
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration based on Bentek Energy, LLC.

Note: Reflects monthly averages of Bentek Energy's daily estimates of dry natural gas production for the state of Pennsylvania. These figures exclude a small amount of natural gas production received directly by local distribution companies and end users via gathering lines that are not subject to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posting requirements for interstate natural gas pipelines.     

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Offshore Oil Expansion Passes U.S. House as Obama Considers Veto

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

The Republican led U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation opening the California and Virginia coasts for offshore oil drilling, defying a presidential veto threat.

The measure, if approved by the Senate, would replace President Barack Obama’s 2012-2017 leasing plan, almost doubling total sales to 29 from 15 and speeding auctions off the north coast of Alaska.

“We can do better than the president’s proposed plan, and our nation deserves better,” said Representative Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican and bill sponsor. “By passing this bill, we are standing up for American energy and American jobs and moving our country forward.”

Republicans and the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the energy industry, criticized Obama for limiting access to offshore resources after the record 2010 spill at a BP Plc (BP) well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The administration “strongly opposes” the measure and senior Obama advisers would recommend a veto, according to a July 23 statement of administration policy. The Senate, where Democrats have a majority, doesn’t plan to take up similar legislation.

The Interior Department has held two auctions for drilling leases since BP’s Macondo well blow out, killing 11 workers and spewing about 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

In an auction last month, Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA) offered $406.6 million, or 24 percent of all winning bids, to drill in the central Gulf of Mexico, followed by Statoil ASA (STO) with $333.3 million, the Interior Department said June 20.

Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp., Apache Corp., LLOG Exploration Offshore LLC, Stone Energy Corp., Noble Energy Inc. and ConocoPhillips were among companies submitting winning bids, according to a list posted June 20 on the Interior Department website.

The bill is H.R. 6082.

Posted courtesy of Bloomberg News and Katarzyna Klimasinska. Katarzyna can be reached at kklimasinska@bloomberg.net

Monthly Long Term Chart Analysis & Thoughts

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How To Position Yourself for a 10 Year Pattern Breakout

As mentioned last Friday just before things took a dive on the weekend, a look at the major market indices did not look promising. If we take an even longer term look and examine the monthly charts we can see that The S&P 500 as well as the Dow Jones have been approaching multi decade rising channel resistance lines. Further, they also appear to be forming bearish rising wedge patterns.

Monthly Long Term Chart Analysis & Thoughts....

As many of my longer term subscribers can attest to, I always preach that technical analysis is one part art and one part science: you can never be completely certain on what the outcome of a pattern is going to be. However, we can use historical analysis to make better investments. The great American Novelist Mark Twain probably said it best in that “history does not repeat itself, but it rhymes”. Regarding a rising wedge pattern, we know that roughly two thirds of the time they will break to the downside. This also means that one third of the time they break to the upside.

In accomplishing our goal of capital growth we must do a number of things. We must make returns on our investments, we must protect our investments, and we must limit our losses. While all three aspects work in tandem with each other, there are times when focus must be allocated to one specific approach.

Regarding the current technical setup, I’m not so focused on the 67% chance that these wedges will break to the downside, but more so the impact of each outcome on the average Joe’s portfolio and mom and pop businesses. The S&P 500 and the Dow are approaching long term resistance lines that have been in place for decades. If we do break to the downside, which I suspect we will, there could be a very significant sell off with consequences that no one can predict at this point though I mention some things in the chart above. Alternatively, there is significant overhead resistance in the various indices, and I don’t believe an upside break would be too monumental.

That being said, I always like to keep an open outlook and wait for the right opportunity. I’m trying to think of scenarios that would prelude further upside action and I really am not coming up with much. As evidenced by the completion of the recent 5 wave uptrend on the S&P that coincided nicely with the various quantitative easing policies, Ben Bernanke and the fed have had less and less impact. I truly can’t see many fiscal developments that would prompt any significant bullish action.

The only scenario I really think that could pump up equities is a series of positive earnings announcements. A lot of expectations, earnings numbers, guidance, etc… have been revised downwards over the last couple of quarters, so there is the opportunity for some positive surprises that could lead to some bullish price action. In absence of such a scenario, I really can’t think of much else that would prompt a run up.

Look at these charts of positive and negative earnings surprises… and the dates and remember what happened following this negative data....

Positive Earnings Surprise

Negative Earnings Surprise

That being said, I am recommending two courses of action. For those steadfast bulls, lock in some profits and/or buy some protection. Missing out on some of the upside is a lot better than losing some of the gains you have fought so hard for over the past couple of years. For the more aggressive traders and investors, start following my updates a little more regularly as I foresee many shorting opportunities coming up in the future. As many of you know, sell offs are often quick and abrupt, and timing is extremely important when playing the downside.

Further, trading could get very volatile in the near future. Historically, and even more so looking forward as August and September have been very costly for the average investor. Our focus will be in taking the highest probability trades that offer the best risk to reward scenarios. There will be times when we miss trades, and times when they’re not timed perfectly. But, as those who have been with me for a while can attest to, patience pays off in the long run....

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Chris Vermeulen

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After Keystone Pipeline Failure, Canada Running to China for Crude Oil Deals

After 1949 when the Communists defeated the Nationalists for control of China, the mournful refrain from Washington, D.C. was “Who Lost China?” This arrogant display of superpower Cold War finger pointing ended with a number of careers destroyed and an unfair smear on the U.S. State Department that in some ways has never been entirely eradicated.

In today’s highly charged political climate, it will come as no surprise when some U.S. politicians come down hard on the Obama Administration for what will no doubt be described as driving Canada’s energy sector into the arms of China:

Cnooc Ltd. (883)’s $15.1 billion cash takeover bid for Nexen Inc. (NXY) signals a Canadian shift toward China and away from the U.S. as the nation’s traditional oil and natural gas partner and main export market.

Canada’s oil sands reserves, the third-largest recoverable crude deposits in the world, were developed in part by U.S. money as companies such as California’s Richfield Oil Corp. brought technology to extract bitumen from boreal peat bogs half a century ago. Now, for the first time, a Chinese company will own and operate oil sands crude production as well as Nexen’s shale gas assets in British Columbia, along with leases in other parts of the world.

Chinese oil producers have turned more frequently to Canada after political opposition in the U.S. derailed Cnooc’s $18.5 billion bid for Unocal Corp. in 2005, and after TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL pipeline route south to Texas was blocked by President Barack Obama’s administration last year. 

The Nexen deal is important for two reasons. First, it potentially represents some absolution for CNOOC, which is best known in foreign investment circles as the company which botched the 2005 U.S. UNOCAL takeover, not taking into account American politics and the need for a public relations strategy. As the Nexen deal will require regulatory approval in several jurisdictions, we will see what lessons CNOOC has learned from the failed UNOCAL bid.

Second, as Bloomberg points out, the deal represents a further shift by Canada away from the U.S. towards China. Another deal involving Sinopec and Talisman Energy was announced yesterday as well, and there have been other recent transactions, including CNOOC’s takeover of Nexen partner Opti Canada.

Why is this happening? Read the entire article > "After Keystone, Canada Running to China for Oil Deals"

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First Offshore Sale Under 2012-2017 Leasing Program Announced

Financial Market Forecast is Looking Bleak

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will offer over 20 million acres offshore Texas as part of the Western Gulf of Mexico Lease Sale 229, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Tommy P. Beaudreau announced Monday.

The sale, scheduled to take place in New Orleans on Wednesday, Nov. 28, will be the first offshore sale under the Obama administration's new Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2012-2017.

"We are moving forward expeditiously to create jobs by implementing the President's offshore oil and gas strategy for the next five years, a smart plan that focuses on the areas that contain the overwhelming majority of the energy resources," Salazar said in a statement Monday.

"With comprehensive safety standards in place, this sale will help us to continue to responsibly grow America's energy economy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," Salazar said.

Read the entire Rigzone article.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Addison Armstrong: Where Are Oil Prices Now?

Financial Market Forecast is Looking Bleak

Mideast violence is pushing oil higher, while Europe's economy is bringing the commodity lower, reports CNBC's Sharon Epperson, with Addison Armstrong, Tradition Energy.

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Financial Market Forecast is Looking Bleak

From guest blogger Chris Vermeulen.....

This week could be a huge one for stocks and commodities. This morning the dollar index is taking another run at our weekly chart resistance level. If it can break out and start to rally this week then a possible 4-6 week sell off in stocks and commodities may be just starting.

And we know just how we are going to play it when it does!

Watch the morning video or at least the last 4 minutes where I cover the SP500 intraday and daily chart which shows the main cycles. The video clearly explains where the market seems to be trading in terms of cycles and what we should expect this week and in the coming month.

Read and watch Chris' > "Financial Market Forecast is Looking Bleak"

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Halliburton Announces Second Quarter 2012 Earnings [HAL]

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) announced today that income from continuing operations for the second quarter of 2012 was $745 million, or $0.80 per diluted share. This compares to income from continuing operations for the first quarter of 2012 of $635 million, or $0.69 per diluted share. First quarter reported results included $300 million ($191 million, after tax, or $0.20 per diluted share) for an estimated loss contingency related to the Macondo well incident.

Halliburton’s consolidated revenue in the second quarter of 2012 was $7.2 billion, compared to $6.9 billion in the first quarter of 2012. Consolidated operating income was $1.2 billion in the second quarter of 2012, compared to $1.0 billion in the first quarter of 2012. All international regions experienced double digit percentage revenue and operating income growth from the first quarter of 2012. North America margins were negatively impacted, however, by rising costs and pricing pressure in production enhancement services.

“I am pleased with our second quarter results, which set a new revenue record for the total company and all three of our international regions,” commented Dave Lesar, chairman, president and chief executive officer.

"We continue to be successful in executing our strategy of market share growth while maintaining a focus on industry leading returns. From a global perspective, we achieved record revenues in eight of our product service lines, with four of them. Cementing, Completion Tools, Multi Chem, and Testing and Subsea, generating record operating income as well.

“Consolidated revenue for the second quarter was up over 5% sequentially. The international rig count was up 3% during the quarter, compared to a 15% increase for our international revenues. North America rig count decreased 17%, while our North America revenues were essentially flat compared to the first quarter. Key strategic market share gains in international operations, continued capacity additions, and strong utilization contributed to this outperformance.

Read the entire Halliburton earnings report

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Andrew Su: Crude Oil to Head Below $90 This Week

Andrew Su, CEO of Compass Global Markets says that WTI crude prices will head lower this week as speculation of more quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve eases.

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Schlumberger [ticker SLB] Announces Second Quarter 2012 Results

Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) today reported second quarter 2012 revenue of $10.45 billion versus $9.92 billion in the first quarter of 2012, and $8.99 billion in the second quarter of 2011.

Income from continuing operations attributable to Schlumberger, excluding charges and credits, was $1.4 billion. An increase of 8% sequentially and 20% year on year. Diluted earnings per share from continuing operations, excluding charges and credits, was $1.05 versus $0.96 in the previous quarter, and $0.86 in the second quarter of 2011.

Following Schlumberger’s previously announced sale of both the Wilson distribution business and its equity ownership interest in CE Franklin Ltd. (CE Franklin), the Distribution segment has been reclassified to discontinued operations. All prior periods have been restated accordingly.

Schlumberger recorded charges of $0.02 per share in the second quarter and $0.01 per share in the first quarter of 2012 and $0.05 per share in the second quarter of 2011.

Oilfield Services revenue of $10.45 billion was up 5% sequentially and increased 16% year on year. Pretax segment operating income of $2.1 billion was up 8% sequentially and increased 20% year on year.

Schlumberger CEO Paal Kibsgaard commented, “Solid activity growth and a consistent focus on execution led to results that continued to strengthen in the second quarter.

Read the entire quarterly report

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Put Your Seatbelts On, It’s About To Get Bumpy!

It was just about a year ago today when the S&P was sitting at fresh highs and everyone was enjoying a rather upbeat summer. It was a nice summer, the markets were calm, and there was a surreal sense of optimism. Then, in the matter of a few days, things got real ugly, real quickly.

Well, it doesn’t seem like too much has changed since then. We’ve had mixed earnings reports, ever evolving worries in Europe, and the always looming fiscal mess in the U.S. Once again, are we in the calm before the storm?

It looks like things in Europe may start to heat up again. Riots turned violent again in Spain as protestors took to the street over austerity measures. With seemingly no resolution, a sinking tourism industry in the PIGS, and a typically hot summer August on its way, all signs point to further turmoil.

Technically, we’re currently seeing a number of bearish indicators setting up in the S&P and other markets. First, on the weekly chart of the SP500 Futures we can see what appears to be a bear flag formation developing. Note the recent rise in price since the beginning of June on decreasing volume.

Weekly SP500 Futures Chart Patterns

Daily Chart Elliott Wave Count For SP500

A second look at the S&P daily illustrates a down trend and 5 wave count bounce in the market, both are currently pointing to lower prices.

>> Completion of two intermediate cycles within longer term 5 wave pattern

>> Downwards wave one from April until beginning of June followed by wave 2 correction from June until present.

The wave two correction typically proceeds the longest wave, wave three, which is pointing towards a large move down (Note that in the first shorter term cycle the downwards wave three was the longest by far. We expect the same to be repeated in the longer term cycle.)

SP500 BIG PICTURE Wave Count

A look at the longer term view once again using the weekly chart, again supports our argument for a major correction. We have just completed a 5 wave pattern since the 2009 lows, and it is looking more like a big pull back is due. Remember most major trends end after the fifth wave.

Copper Weekly Chart Patterns

If we take a look at the copper ETF, “JJC”, we are provided with further justification. Copper is often referred to as “Dr.Copper” due to its industrial application and is known to be a leading indicator for equity markets. Copper has significantly underperformed equity markets and is likely leading the next move down. A look at the weekly chart which points to a rather dismal outlook. There is a major head and shoulder patterns developing.

Major Market Pattern Analysis Conclusion:

Last summer turned into a bloodbath with nothing but red candlesticks taking stocks and commodities sharply lower. If you haven’t already, it’s time to lock in some profits. Short, intermediate, and long term cycles are pointing down, and the increasingly bearish technical developments cannot be ignored. We’ll be looking at entering multiple shorts potentially in the very near future once/if setups present themselves.

 Buckle up and stay tune for more....

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