The Motley Fool

Is Baytex Energy Corp. the Top Turnaround Play in the Energy Sector?

Baytex Energy Corp. (TSX:BTE)(NYSE:BTE), one of the largest producers of crude oil and natural gas in North America, announced first-quarter earnings results before the market opened on May 5 and its stock has responded by rising over 3%. However, even after this rally, the company’s stock still sits more than 51% below its 52-week high, so let’s take a closer look at the results to determine if we should consider initiating long-term positions today, or if we should wait for the rally to subside.

Breaking down the first-quarter results

Here’s a summary of Baytex’s first-quarter earnings results compared with its results in the same period a year ago.

Metric Q1 2015 Q1 2014
Earnings Per Share ($1.04) $0.38
Petroleum & Natural Gas Sales $285.62 million $385.81 million

Source: Baytex Energy Corp.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2015, Baytex reported a net loss of $175.92 million, or $1.04 per share, compared with a net profit of $47.84 million, or $0.38 per share, in the same quarter a year ago, as its petroleum and natural gas sales decreased 26% to $285.62 million. These very weak results can be attributed to the steep decline in commodity prices in the last 12 months, which led to the company’s average realized price of heavy oil decreasing 59.8% to $28.57 per barrel; its average realized price of natural gas liquids decreasing 65.4% to $19.35 per barrel; and its average realized price of natural gas decreasing 38.3% to $3.22 per thousand cubic feet.

Here’s a breakdown of 10 other notable statistics from the report compared with the year-ago period:

  1. Total production increased 52.4% to 90,710 barrels of oil equivalents per day
  2. Production of heavy oil decreased 13.2% to 39,261 barrels per day
  3. Production of light oil and condensate increased 412.9% to 28,056 barrels per day
  4. Production of natural gas liquids increased 313.9% to 8,224 barrels per day
  5. Production of natural gas increased 122.6% to 91.01 million cubic feet per day
  6. Funds from operations decreased 6.2% to $160.22 million
  7. Funds from operations decreased 29.1% to $0.95 per diluted share
  8. Total capital expenditures decreased 13.9% to $148.98 million
  9. Long-term debt increased 224.8% to $1.51 billion
  10. Total number of common shares outstanding increased 33.7% to 169 million

Can the rally in Baytex’s shares continue?

It was a very weak first quarter for Baytex Energy, so I do not think the post-earnings pop in its stock was warranted. However, I do think the stock represents an intriguing long-term investment opportunity today.

First, I think the commodity prices will rebound over the next 12 months, including the price of crude oil heading backs towards about $75 per barrel, and this will lead to higher sales and profitability for Baytex. This will also lead to increased demand in the market for shares of energy companies, driving them higher.

Second, Baytex pays a monthly dividend of $0.10 per share, or $1.20 per share annually, giving its stock a 5% yield at today’s levels. A 5% yield may seem a bit high for a company that just reported a quarterly loss of over $175 million, but as long as commodity prices recover and the company continues to generate ample funds from operations, I think it is safe from being reduced.

With all of the information provided above in mind, I think Baytex Energy’s stock represents a great long-term investment opportunity today. Foolish investors should take a closer look and consider beginning to scale in to long-term positions over the next couple of trading sessions.

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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.

Fool contributor Joseph Solitro has no position in any stocks mentioned.

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