3 Reasons to Buy Baytex Energy

This player in the patch is well positioned to deliver value for investors

The Motley Fool

Intermediate heavy oil producer Baytex Energy (TSX: BTE)(NYSE: BTE) is fast shaping up as one of the most compelling plays in the patch, with crude prices well over $100 per barrel. When considered in conjunction with the narrowing price differential between Canadian heavy crude and the West Texas Intermediate benchmark, it is easy to see why there is renewed investor interest in the company. Let’s take a closer look at three key reasons why investors should consider Baytex.

1. It holds a range of high-quality oil assets
One aspect that makes mid-cap oil explorer and producer Baytex stand out is its high quality oil assets. The company has net oil reserves of 255 million barrels and despite reporting record 2013 oil production of 57,196, it was able to grow its reserves by the end of 2013 by 7% in comparison to 2012.

More importantly, Baytex continues to maintain a monster reserves replacement ratio, which for the last three years has averaged 251% annually. This highlights that Baytex’s oil reserves are growing at a faster rate than they are being depleted by oil production, underscoring the sustainability of its oil production.

This reserves replacement ratio is also superior to many of its peers operating in the patch, being significantly higher than Penn West Petroleum’s (TSX: PWT)(NYSE: PWE) 97% and marginally higher than Pengrowth Energy’s (TSX: PGF)(NYSE: PGH) 217% for the same period.

The quality of these oil reserves is highlighted by Baytex’s relatively high netback per barrel, which is a key measure of the profitability of its production. For 2013, Baytex reported a netback of $32.91 per barrel, which is higher than many of its peers in the patch and superior to either Penn West’s $29.69 or Pengrowth’s $24.35.

2. The acquisition of Aurora Oil and Gas is a game changer
Baytex’s proposed acquisition of Canadian-listed Australian oil junior Aurora Oil and Gas (TSX: AEF) continues to move closer to completion. Baytex has offered A$4.10 per share and this falls within the mid-range of an independent valuation of Aurora. When coupled with Aurora’s management recommending the transaction proceeds, it bodes well for its successful completion.

The acquisition is an important milestone in Baytex’s development. Not only will it boost Baytex’s core oil assets and production but it will give it access to higher margin light oil production in the prolific Eagle Ford Shale in East Texas. The deal will add almost 166 million barrels of light oil reserves with 2014 net oil production expected to average 21,500 barrels daily.

This acquisition would see Baytex’s production grow by around 55% and increase the proportion made up of light oil by around 10% to 21% of total production once the deal is complete. Light crude produced in the Eagle Ford generates a higher margin than Baytex’s Canadian light and heavy oil with a lower price differential to the benchmark price of West Texas Intermediate.

This is evident when the two companies’ netbacks per barrel are compared. For the full-year 2013 Aurora reported a netback of $45.34 per barrel which was 38% higher than Baytex’s $32.91 per barrel. More surprisingly, Aurora’s light oil generates a significantly higher netback than Baytex’s despite the company paying a higher royalty rate of around 27% compared to Baytex’s average royalties of 20%.

All of this makes the acquisition of Aurora a game changer for Baytex giving a significant presence in light oil production.

3. Pays a tasty dividend yield
Baytex pays a steadily appreciating monthly dividend with a tasty yield of over 5%, making it one of the highest yielding players in the patch. On first impressions this dividend appears unsustainable with a payout ratio of 200%, but when operating cash flow is substituted for net income, the payout ratio falls to a sustainable 37%.

More promising is that the acquisition of Aurora will significantly boost Baytex’s operating cash flow, with management estimating it will grow by over 17%, enhancing the sustainability of the dividend. In addition, because of this significant growth in cash flow, Baytex’s management committed to increasing the dividend by 9% to $0.24 per share when the acquisition of Aurora is complete. This will boost Baytex’s dividend yield to a very attractive 6%.

Foolish bottom line
Baytex is fast shaping up as a compelling investment opportunity in the patch. Not only does it have a solid reserve base but its monster reserve replacement ratio highlights the success of its development program and the sustainability of its oil production.

Furthermore, the successful acquisition of Aurora will be a game changer for Baytex, boosting reserves and its operating netback by significantly boosting light oil production. Coupled with a delectable and increasingly sustainable dividend yield, that makes Baytex a compelling addition to any investment portfolio.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

More on Investing

Canadian Dollars
Bank Stocks

If You’d Invested $2,500 in Royal Bank Stock in 2012, Here’s How Much You’d Have Today

Royal Bank (TSX:RY) stock has seen some heavy lifting of its stock price in the last decade, but should investors…

Read more »

warning or alert

TFSA Alert: Top Stocks to Safeguard Your Retirement

Are you looking for stocks to hold in a TFSA? Here are three top picks!

Read more »

Bank sign on traditional europe building facade
Bank Stocks

Canada’s Banking Giants: Are These Stocks Worth Your Money Today?

Canadian investors should watch top bank stocks like Royal Bank of Canada (TSX:RY) closely after another interest rate hike.

Read more »

tsx today
Tech Stocks

TSX Today: What to Watch for in Stocks on Thursday, June 8

TSX stocks are likely to remain volatile today, as investors continue to assess the possible impact of higher interest rates…

Read more »

TFSA and coins
Dividend Stocks

Maximize Your Retirement Income: How to Turbocharge Your TFSA Returns

TFSA investors could pick different strategies to boost returns.

Read more »

dividends grow over time

Dividend Aristocrats: Canadian Stocks That Keep Paying Year After Year

Top Canadian stocks like Bank of Nova Scotia (TSX:BNS) also qualify as Dividend Aristocrats that you can trust for the…

Read more »

Golden crown on a red velvet background
Dividend Stocks

Canadian Utilities Is a “Dividend King,” But I Like This Stock Even More

Canadian Utilities (TSX:CU) stock is a solid dividend provider, but there's more to look at then just how much you're…

Read more »

Path to retirement
Dividend Stocks

Retire Rich: TFSA Stocks to Power Your Golden Years

Investing in your TFSA early has huge benefits. Here’s a look at some stocks for your TFSA that can power…

Read more »