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Continued from here. As usual, I encourage you also click on the 2012 & 2013 links for each company, to add some valuable colour/background. Now, let’s jump right in:
Company: Circle Oil
Price: GBP 20.625p
Look at Circle Oil’s latest interims, what’s not to like? Revenue up 20%, EBITDA up 34%, and cash generated from operations (after working capital changes) up 69%. And if you annualize net profit, Circle’s trading on a 6.6 P/E! But it’s not as simple as that… Focusing on a P/E ratio’s a rather pointless (& misleading) exercise when it comes to junior resource companies. [Well, most don’t have any ‘E’ anyway!] Even if they’re fortunate enough to be producers, they’re often melting ice-cubes – i.e. they’re exploiting a (sometimes rapidly) depleting reserve base. Basically, they haven’t diversified enough, spent enough, and/or mastered the art of reserve replacement. That’s how the majors play the game, of course – but for the juniors, it’s much more of a lucky (& lumpy) game. This is one of the main issues Circle faces right now.
[Well, two other big issues: i) About 27% of its shareholder base remains a potential stock over-hang – Libya Oil Holdings owns 18%, while Kaupthing Bank owns 9% – not surprisingly, both stakes are essentially ‘frozen’! And: ii) Investors are still leery of the fact a majority of Circle’s production is in Egypt. Maybe a little unfairly, as the company doesn’t appear to have suffered any disruption/interference to date. But it does suffer from another long-standing Egyptian problem…getting paid! Fortunately, the situation’s stabilized somewhat, but Circle continues to have more than 6 mths of trade receivables outstanding].
At the current production rate, Circle’s only got about 6-7 yrs of reserves left. That’s not something you can tag with a P/E ratio! And despite a $42 M pa exploration/capex spend, it hasn’t managed to put new reserves on the board recently. OK, I’m probably being a little harsh here – despite this spend, the company’s actually generating positive free cash flow. Far better than most junior resource companies out there…OK, we all know 9 out of 10 juniors are rubbish anyway! Because of this reserve depletion, and COP’s current (relatively small) market cap, I’ll continue to value it on an asset basis.
As of mid-2013, net 2P reserves were down to 16.3 M boe. No allocation between proved & probable is provided, so let’s assume a 50:50 split & my usual $10 & $5 per boe (respective) in-the-ground valuations. There’s $30.6 M of cash on hand, and let’s include net trade receivables of 20.2 M. [That’s being kind – Egyptian receivables will likely remain a semi-permanent & illiquid asset]. We then offset 11.6 M of bank debt, and a 30 M convertible loan. [This may ultimately become equity, but the share price continues to trade below the loan’s conversion prices]. That gives us: