Premier Oil missed its earlier production targets in part because of an outage at a North Sea asset. Its record for exploration there was not much better than that of the sector as a whole that is, poor. This year the company will drill at least 14 exploration and appraisal wells, to what effect we shall see. However, production from two North Sea assets, Huntington and Rochelle, will come on stream soon, bringing daily production to about 75,000 barrels a day, against last year's average of 57,700. Two more fields there, Solan and Catcher, will be closer to producing, in 2014 and 2016 respectively. The company will also pay its first dividend in its near-80 year history.
The shares' rating has tended to lag behind the rest of the explorers because of uncertainty over the Falklands and the slowness in getting some other projects to fruition. If the company can demonstrate that those production targets can be met, and get a few lucky breaks on the exploration side, that discount will narrow. A speculative punt, but not a bad one says The Times´s Tempus.
Shares in SDL, the software company being managed again by the founder Mark Lancaster, were off a few pence as it undershot market estimates for last year by a touch. But as Panmure Gordon said, uncharitably, in a note, "the good news is that this isn't another [profit] warning." In the autumn there were two such, the second after Mr Lancaster returned, and as he said at the time, these things have a nasty habit of coming around in threes, Tempus wrote in his column on Thursday night.
Wood Group announced a small contract win yesterday, worth $50m (£31.2m). After investors had grown concerned about the rate of growth in 2013, the new business is most welcome. Fears of a slower 2013 caused the shares
to slide in the last few months of 2012. This is against a backdrop of relatively flat oil prices, but also increasingly challenging developments and delays to some major projects. But the outlook for the oil industry is sound, with long-term growth assured by the fact that global demand for power is surging. As well, the energy industry is increasingly moving offshore - an area in which Wood has specialist expertise.
Given its dominant position in this high growth business the company is expected to see a significant increase in its free cash flow over the next few years. Wood shares are trading on a 2013 earnings multiple of 12.9, falling to 11.3. The prospective yield is just 1.6%, so this investment is not one for income seekers. Questor tipped the shares on December 16 at 734p and they have risen 10% in a month. They remain a buy it says.
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