Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Earnings Notes (Q4 2023)

Freeport-McMoRan Inc. (FCX)
For Q4 2023, Freeport reported operating cash flow of $1.32 billion and capital expenditures of $1.36 billion, giving a free cash flow for the quarter of negative $42 million. Their quarterly copper production of 1.1 billion pounds was up 2% y/y, at an average realized price of $3.81 per pound. Their guidance for 2024 free cash flow is $1.2 billion (at $3.75 copper), which would be only a 2% yield on the current enterprise value of $57 billion.

FCX’s consolidated operating cash flows are estimated to approximate $5.8 billion (including $0.1 billion of working capital and other sources) for the year 2024, based on current sales volume and cost estimates, and assuming average prices of $3.75 per pound of copper, $2,000 per ounce of gold and $19.00 per pound of molybdenum. The impact of price changes on operating cash flows for the year 2024 would approximate $400 million for each $0.10 per pound change in the average price of copper, $180 million for each $100 per ounce change in the average price of gold and $120 million for each $2 per pound change in the average price of molybdenum.

Capital expenditures are expected to approximate $4.6 billion for the year 2024 (including $2.3 billion for major mining projects and $1.0 billion for the Indonesia smelter projects). Projected capital expenditures for major mining projects include $1.1 billion for planned projects primarily associated with underground mine development in the Grasberg minerals district and potential expansion projects in North America, and $1.2 billion for discretionary growth projects.

FCX’s financial policy is aligned with its strategic objectives of maintaining a strong balance sheet, providing cash returns to shareholders and advancing opportunities for future growth. The policy includes a base dividend and a performance-based payout framework, whereby up to 50% of available cash flows generated after planned capital spending and distributions to noncontrolling interests would be allocated to shareholder returns and the balance to debt reduction and investments in value enhancing growth projects, subject to FCX maintaining its net debt at a level not to exceed the net debt target of $3.0 billion to $4.0 billion (excluding net project debt for the Indonesia smelter projects).

They are quite leveraged to the copper price as you can see: $400 million additional operating cash flow for each ten cent increment in copper price. Yet even $4.75 copper would only give an additional $4 billion of operating cash flow which would be kind of lackluster on the $58 billion EV. They are crazy to be spending money on growth! They should demand contracts in hand for $6/lb before they spend a penny more on capex.

Barrick Gold Corp (GOLD)
For Q4 2023, Barrick reported cash from operations of $1 billion and capital expenditures of $861 million, giving a free cash flow for the quarter of only $136 million on an enterprise value of $25 billion. Gold production was up 1% y/y in Q4. Their cash cost was $982 per oz and their "all-in sustaining cost" was $1,364/oz. 

Like other commodity producers and miners, they are plowing it into capex: They produced 4.05 million ounces of gold in 2023, down from 4.1 million in 2022 and closer to 5 million in 2020. Cash cost has risen from $700/oz in 2020 to $960/oz last year. Operating cash flow for 2020-2023 (four years) totaled $17 billion but they spent $11 billion on capex. So only $6 billion of cumulative free cash flow ($1.5 billion per year) and production is in decline!

Remember that to recover an ounce of gold they have to process 28 tons of ore, and for every ton of ore, they have to also move 6 tons of waste.

Comstock Resources Inc (CRK)
Comstock produces almost 100% natural gas and sells it for the pittance of $2.50/mcf. They reported negative free cash flow for Q4 and FY 2023 yet they grew production 6% y/y. Although they may get some religion about lighting cash on fire now that natural gas is even lower:

"In response to weak natural gas prices, Comstock plans to suspend its quarterly dividend until natural gas prices improve. In addition, the Company plans to reduce the number of operating drilling rigs it is running from seven to five. Two of the five drilling rigs will continue to be deployed in the Company's Western Haynesville play. As a result, Comstock plans to spend approximately $750 million to $850 million in 2024 on its development and exploration projects to drill 46 (35.9 net) operated horizontal wells and to turn 44 (38.2 net) operated wells to sales in 2024. Comstock expects to spend $125 million to $150 million on its Western Haynesville midstream system, which will be funded by its midstream partnership."

Comstock has $3.4 billion of net liabilities and a $2 billion market cap. It is conceivable that the equity here goes to zero.

PrairieSky Royalty Ltd. (PREKF)
PSK reported revenue for 2023 of $380 million, generated $283 million of funds from operations (74% margin). They spend 13% of revenue on income tax, 9% on G&A expense, 3.4% on finance expense (interest), and about 1% each on production taxes and on exploration and evaluation. The $283 million of funds from operations is a 7% shareholder yield on the $4 billion market capitalization. (Based on Q4 would be an 8% yield.)

Horizon Kinetics wrote about PSK in the annual letter for their Inflation Beneficiaries (INFL) ETF:

"With today’s temporarily depressed energy prices, PrairieSky should be able to generate C$1.50 in FFO/share, which equates to a 7.5% yield. This could be viewed as a “base case” minimum return—assuming no improvement in energy prices, production volumes, or Canadian price differentials. Assuming modest improvement here, namely with pricing and volumes, it is reasonable to expect more than C$2.00/share of FFO, or a 10% yield. If prices rebound more fully, and volume grows even moderately, FFO could exceed C$2.50 share, nearly a 12% yield."

One big hope for PSK would be more export of natural gas from Canada. Their share of natural gas production for the quarter was 5.4 million Mcf of gas which was sold for only $2.19 per Mcf.

Intercontinental Exchange Inc. (ICE)
For the full-year 2023, ICE earned $3.05 billion of free cash flow on $8 billion of total revenue (less transaction-based expenses) for a royalty-like 38% free cash flow margin. The current market capitalization is $78 billion the enterprise value is around $100 billion, so at a 3% free cash flow yield, it is not cheap. Something else to note was FCF was flat from 2022 to 2023. Their M&A goals: "deepen moats, gain intellectual property, increase customer wallet-share".

Peabody Energy Corp (BTU)
The market capitalization of Peabody is now $3.35 billion versus $3.3 billion when we wrote about them last quarter. (It was $4 billion when we wrote about them in August 2022.) Total liabilities less current assets are now $335 million, so we would put the enterprise value at $3.7 billion now. For the fourth quarter of 2023, Peabody's adjusted EBITDA was $345 million, up from $270 million in the third quarter. Adjusted EBITDA for the full year 2023 was $1.4 billion which is about equal to the Q4 annualized figure. That puts the EV/EBITDA at 2.7x. Operating cash flow for the quarter was $282 million and $1,036 million for the year. Capital expenditures were $158 million for the quarter and $348 million for the year. So the free cash flow yield on enterprise value is 13% based on the most recent quarter or 19% for the full year.

Thoughts from Coal Trader: "If executed successfully, the Centurion and Shoal Creek organic investments should deliver extremely high IRR's and return significant free cash flow to Peabody in the coming years. Peabody’s team also found a way to further enhance the Centurion investment by acquiring the adjacent Wards Well deposit. These investments will pivot the company more towards the met market where the long term fundamentals are far more favorable compared to thermal. The long term prospects of the company have significantly improved with Centurion being the flagship of their portfolio in the years ahead. The average realizations of the met segment will improve significantly with the addition of Shoal Creek and eventually Centurion. This is probably something that will be overlooked by many analysts, but I believe the 'relativities' in the metallurgical coal market are something the sector if going to have to contend with for far longer than most believe. That is to say, the price spreads between high-quality coking coals relative to lower-quality coking coals may be here to stay..."

Seems cheap and everything, but would rather own coal royalties at current valuations.

Natural Resource Partners, L.P. (NRP)
No year-end results yet, but NRP put out an 8-K in January about a warrant settlement:

On January 29, 2024 (the "exercise date"), holders of Natural Resource Partners L.P.'s (the "Partnership's") warrants to purchase common units ("warrants") exercised 462,165 warrants with a strike price of $34.00. On January 31, 2024, the Partnership settled the warrants on a net basis with $10 million in cash and 198,767 common units. The 15-day VWAP ending on the business day prior to the exercise date was $97.62. Of the originally issued 4.0 million warrants, 1.08 million warrants with an exercise price of $34.00 remain outstanding.

As of the September 30, 2023 quarterly results, NRP had 2,190,000 warrants outstanding. An October purchase (8-K) brought them down to 1.54 million warrants. We had been wondering what they did with their Q4 cash - we won't know for sure for another few weeks until they report earnings, although they did aggressively tackle the warrants. Wonder if they were redeeming the preferred (12% liability) during the fourth quarter?

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM)
XOM reported cash from operations of $13.7 billion and free cash flow of $8 billion (58% of CFO) for the fourth quarter of 2023. The market capitalization is $400 billion and the enterprise value is $420 billion so the free cash flow yield is 7.6% at current oil (and LNG) price. For the full year of 2023, shareholder distributions were $32.4 billion ($14.9 billion of dividends, and $17.4 billion of share repurchases) which is a 8% shareholder yield.

Imperial Oil Ltd (IMO)
We mentioned IMO last week. Production in the fourth quarter was up 8.5% versus the prior year, while capex for the quarter was down 34% versus the prior year. (See results. Full year capex was down 2% from 2022.) Free cash flow for the quarter was $667 million, which is about an 8.6% yield on the enterprise value. Imperial is a share cannibal. During 2023, they shrank the share count by 8.3%. 

Enbridge Inc (ENB)
Enbridge shares have been really weak, under-performing Enterprise Products, for example. (Also compare with EPD, NTG, and FEI over the past three years.) It's a $70 billion market capitalization company yielding 7.9% (dividend) which is quite high compared to what it has yielded historically. And it is a C-corp so you don't even get the annoying Schedule K-1 that you do from other midstream companies. From the Q4 call:

2023 showcased the predictability of our business amid continued geopolitical instability, persistent inflation and rising interest rates. This is as a result of the 98% of Enbridge's earnings being generated from either cost of service or take-or-pay contract assets. Our debt portfolio is less than 10% exposed to floating rate volatility. Our customer base is over 95% investment grade, and 80% of our EBITDA is earned from assets with protection against inflation. We are rated BBB+ by all rating agencies and remain committed to our long-held leverage target of 4.5x to 5x.

Half of the EBITDA is from their liquids pipelines. They've got the Mainline pipeline from the western Canada oil sands and then the Line 5 that takes it to eastern Canada refiners. The Flanagan South and Seaway can also take that Mainline oil from Canada down to Gulf Coast refiners. ("We transport about 30% of the crude oil produced in North America. We transport about 65% of U.S.-bound Canadian exports.")

A quarter of their EBITDA is gas transmission. They carry from western Canada to export, also to eastern U.S. Connects PA gas to eastern U.S. as well as Gulf Coast. ("Enbridge moves about 20% of the natural gas consumed in the United States. We are the largest natural gas supplier to New England, the Southeast and virtually all of Florida. Our transmission network is also webbed throughout the Gulf Coast. We are also one of the largest offshore natural gas transporters in the Gulf of Mexico.") They are working on LNG export from western Canada, called the Woodfibre LNG project.

Other quarter is gas distribution (utility). ("Enbridge’s gas utility business, Enbridge Gas Inc., becomes the largest by volume in North America—with about 7,000 employees delivering 9.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day (Bcf/d) to about 7 million customers.")

Allison Transmission Holdings Inc (ALSN)
We keep noticing ALSN on the daily all-time highs list. Per their website, Allison is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions and hybrid propulsion systems for commercial-duty vehicles. 

On fourth quarter sales of $775 million, they did $170 million of net income and $186 million of adjusted free cash flow (24% free cash flow margin). On full year sales of $3 billion, they did $659 million of adjusted free cash flow (22% FCF margin). Revenue for the year was up 10% for 2022 and adjusted free cash flow was up 37%. They repurchasing $260 million of shares during 2023 (6 percent of outstanding). The market capitalization is $6.25 billion and the enterprise value is $8 billion, so the FCF yield is 8%.

Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (PAG)
Highlight from fourth quarter results:

For the three months ended December 31, 2023, total new and used units delivered increased 8% to nearly 117,400, and total retail automotive revenue increased 5% to $6.2 billion. Same-store new and used units delivered increased 9% to nearly 116,700, and same-store revenue increased 4%, including a 7% increase in service and parts revenue. Total retail automotive gross profit decreased 1% to $1.0 billion, including a 1% decrease on a same-store basis. Same-store service and parts gross profit increased 7%.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $7.3 billion, gross profit was $1.2 billion, EBITDA was $357 million, and capital expenditures were $103 million. The current market capitalization is $10 billion. Net income was $190 million for the quarter and $1 billion for the full year.

AutoNation Inc (AN)
Highlight from fourth quarter results:

New Vehicle Gross Profit - Decreased $102 million reflecting gross profit per vehicle retailed of $3,653, compared to $5,633 a year ago, partially offset by an 8% increase in unit sales. Used Vehicle Gross Profit - Decreased $27 million reflecting gross profit per vehicle retailed of $1,455, compared to $1,847 a year ago and a 4% decrease in unit sales. After-Sales Gross Profit - $540 million, an increase of $61 million or 13% from a year ago.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was $6.8 billion, gross profit was $1.2 billion, and net income was $216 million. During the quarter, AutoNation repurchased 1.15 million shares of common stock (3% of shares outstanding at start of quarter) for an aggregate purchase price of $151 million. The current market capitalization is $6 billion. Net income was $1 billion for the full year.

Enterprise Products Partners LP (EPD)
Highlights from fourth quarter results:

Enterprise reported net income attributable to common unitholders of $5.5 billion, or $2.52 per common unit on a fully diluted basis, for 2023 compared to $5.5 billion, or $2.50 per common unit on a fully diluted basis, for 2022. Operational DCF was $7.5 billion for 2023 compared to $7.6 billion for 2022. DCF provided 1.7 times coverage of the distributions declared with respect to 2023. Enterprise retained $3.2 billion of DCF in 2023 to reinvest in the partnership, repurchase partnership common units, and reduce debt. Distributions declared with regard to 2023 increased 5.3 percent compared to those declared for 2022 and marked Enterprise’s 25th consecutive year of distribution growth.

Steady as she goes. The real question will be, do the growth investments pay off? If so, earnings will rise and capex will go down, resulting in a lot more cash for distributions. (As we pointed out in October, the free cash flow per unit of Enterprise has grown substantially (3.3x) over the past five years.)

Altria, Inc (MO)
Highlight from fourth quarter results:

Smokeable products segment reported domestic cigarette shipment volume decreased 7.6%, primarily driven by the industry’s decline rate (impacted by macroeconomic pressures on ATC disposable income and the growth of illicit e-vapor products) and retail share losses, partially offset by trade inventory movements. When adjusted for trade inventory movements, smokeable products segment domestic cigarette shipment volume decreased by an estimated 9%.

Cigarettes volumes down 9%. Cigarette revenues down 2.4% y/y net of excise tax. They are not able to raise price of pack enough to maintain flat revenue. Operating income from cigarettes down 1.3% y/y.

Chipotle (CMG)
Highlights from fourth quarter results:

Total revenue increased 15.4% to $2.5 billion. Comparable restaurant sales increased 8.4%. Operating margin was 14.4%, an increase from 13.6%. Restaurant level operating margin was 25.4%, an increase of 140 basis points.

Market capitalization is $70 billion, they earned $282 million in Q4 on sales of $2.5 billion. Sixty times earnings is steep! Net income for fourth quarter was up 11% year-over-year.

Marathon Petroleum (MPC)
This Marathon is the refiner, not the E&P company (MRO). They refine almost 3 million barrels per day, which is the most in the U.S., followed by Valero (VLO) and ExxonMobil, each with about 2 million barrels per day. Highlight from fourth quarter results:

“In 2023, the business generated $14.1 billion of net cash from operations, driven by strong operational performance and commercial execution,” said Chief Executive Officer Michael J. Hennigan. “This enabled the return of $12.8 billion of capital to shareholders. We believe MPC is positioned to generate strong through-cycle cash flow with the ability to deliver superior returns to our shareholders.”

That's on a market capitalization of $63 billion. 

Marriott International, Inc. (MAR)
We wrote about Marriott in November as a royalty-like business. Highlights from Q4 results:

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) totaled $1,197 million in the 2023 fourth quarter, a 10 percent increase compared to fourth quarter 2022 adjusted EBITDA of $1,090 million. The company repurchased 4.7 million shares of common stock in the 2023 fourth quarter for $965 million. For full year 2023, Marriott repurchased 21.5 million shares for $3.9 billion. 

In 2024, we expect another year of solid growth and significant shareholder returns. With normalizing RevPAR growth around the world, we anticipate a worldwide full year RevPAR increase of 3 to 5 percent and net rooms growth of 5.5 to 6 percent. We expect this should yield adjusted EBITDA of approximately $4.9 billion to $5.0 billion for the year and enable us to return $4.1 billion to $4.3 billion to shareholders after factoring in $500 million to purchase the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

That would be quite a nice shareholder return on the current market capitalization of $69 billion.

Warrior Met Coal Inc. (HCC)
The market capitalization of Warrior is now $3.2 billion. Their current assets net of all liabilities (ignoring deferred income taxes) are $660 million, so the enterprise value is $2.5 billion. For the fourth quarter of 2023 (release), Warrior's adjusted EBITDA was $164 million, up from $148 million the prior year. For the full year (2023), adjusted EBITDA was $700 million, down from $1 billion in 2022. That puts the EV/EBITDA at 3.8x using the fourth quarter (annualized) or 3.6x using the entire year.

They sold 1.53 million tons versus 1.45 million the prior year. The average price was $234/t and the average cash cost was $121/t. Cash from operations was $245 million for the quarter and they spent $182 million on capital expenditures. 

For the full year 2023, $700 million of cash from operations, but they spent $525 million on capex. No share repurchases, even though the stock was trading for 1.2x EBITDA earlier last year.

The price per ton of met coal averaged $219 in 2023 vs $304 in 2022. It seems insane to invest so much (~$1 billion for the new Blue Creek mine) in producing more of a commodity that does not have a firm price. There are some good pictures of it in the new investor presentation though.

Coal Trader tweeted: "It seems like they’re really struggling to move this coal. Maybe the transition to more HVA is hurting more than I figured, or maybe the spreads in the Atlantic basin are making it more difficult than I assumed. Prices in Q4 were terrible, and inventories increased A LOT."

That's so brutal. There really shouldn't be any question of being able to move the product if you are expanding production.

Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY)
From Q4 results, Occidental's oil volume (total U.S.) was down 2.2% in the fourth quarter (year/year). Their total U.S. production in BOEs though was up 1.3%. In the Permian specifically, oil was flat and natural gas was up 14%. The wells are getting gassier!

Total oil and gas capex in the second half of the year was up 4.5% versus the second half of 2022, but in the Permian was actually down 20%. (They really slashed Permian capex in Q4... in Q3 it was up 8% y/y so maybe we'll see volumes fall off more in Q1 2024.)

Their operating cash flow in Q4 was $2.5 billion with capex of $1.4 billion, giving free cash flow of only $1.1 billion. Market cap is $50 billion and the enterprise value is $80 billion. So EV/FCF is only 5.5%.

Truly no idea what Buffett sees here. 
Royal Gold Inc. (RGLD)
Reported results: cash from operations was $101 million for Q4 2023 and $416 million for the full year 2023, virtually the same as Q4 2022 and the FY 2022. There were no capital expenditures in Q4 and only $2.7 million for the full year. They spent $325 million on debt repayment and $100 million on dividends. So the shareholder yield is 5.8% on the $7 billion market capitalization. (Net debt is down to $151 million.)

Kraft Heinz Company (KHC)
Noticing from Q4 results that Kraft's North American volumes were down 5.5% despite 2.5% price increase, resulting in fourth quarter sales down 3%. (They're calling this "headwinds that were driven by ongoing consumer pressure".)
The market capitalization is $42 billion and the enterprise value $63 billion. Cash from operations for the full year was $4 billion; surprisingly they actually have $1 billion of capital expenditures, so free cash flow is only $3 billion. They spent $191 million on debt repayment, $2 billion on dividends, and $455 million on share repurchases.

1 comment:

CP said...

If I had to choose long or short: