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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Riding U.S. Refinery Stock Recovery

Thinking about investing in U.S. refiners? I wouldn't do that without first following our trading partner Chris Damas who today has released some great calls on the refiners. How you paying attention?

My October 14 recommendation to buy U.S. oil refiners Marathon Petroleum, Valero, Alon USA Partners and CVR Refining is working out well. The story is intact. WCS/WTI spread for December is ($6.33) meaning the inland refiners are making money.

In particular, I think Alon is a buy and back to $15.09 this morning (we recommended it at $12.96) with the short selling squeeze sending the units up to $16.80 before falling back. Will the shorts get active again? I think once burned twice shy.

Note Alon’s EPU (Earnings per Unit) and hence CAD (Cash available for distribution) is expected to be only 4 cents for Q3 and a loss of 1 cent for Q4. Therefore I would be cautious around the Alon EPU and distribution release date and sell before the November 8 release date.

Similarly, CVR Refining is up to $26 versus $24 and change when recommended. Analysts expect 50 cents for Q3 and 41 cents for Q4. CVRR had an unexpected FCC outage at Coffeyville refinery which took about a month to fix. I would be cautious around the EPU date on November 1.

I also like CVI Energy the holding company that owns 71% of CVRR and 53% of CVR Partners (UAN). The stock yields 7.3% at $41.29 this morning. The three CVR companies and MLP’s brought their EPS release dates forward by four days at the behest of controlling shareholder Carl Icahn’s IEP group.

I think this was merely a matter of timing all the releases to coincide as IEP owns a big chunk of CVI (82%) and its results are material to IEP. Marathon and Valero have curtailed parts of the massive Garyville , LA and much smaller Three Rivers , TX refineries for maintenance. The shutterings will affect only Q4 and are small relatively to their overall refining capacities. They are buys.

These stocks are for more conservative investors and are rallying nicely. MPC up this morning $1.29 to $72.22 and VLO up 77 to $40.52. We recommended those in the $67 and $36 area respectively. How much higher can they go? The December WTI/Brent discount is $10.76 this morning. Combined with the WTS/WTI sour discount of $6.33, that’s a $16.33 crack spread and very healthy for inland producers.

The Gulf Coast producers bench mark off GOM Mars and Mexican Mayan sour versus Light Louisiana Sweet. I am not sure where that is trading, but it can’t be far off the WCS/Brent spread. Anyways, we are buying all of these due to the EPA’s proposed reduction in biofuels usage and RIN credits for 2014.

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