Russian oilmen get super-profits from rising oil prices

Russian oil companies are making super profits from rising oil prices. This promises an increase in dividend yield to the owners of their shares.
The OPEC + deal to cut production by 1.8 million barrels. per day did its job: oil reserves over the past year and a half declined to an average for five years, the price of oil rose, and in May this year almost approached $ 80 per 1 barrel. Now investors are eyeing oil producers, especially Russian ones. Since early 2018, their capitalization has grown by 30-45%, it follows from the data of the Moscow Stock Exchange. This helped the weak ruble and high domestic oil prices (increased since the beginning of the year by 17% to historical highs).

In this regard, Goldman Sachs experts revised their forecasts for the sector: they, as well as Bank of America and BCS, reflected the growth of free cash flows from Lukoil, Rosneft, Gazprom Neft, Tatneft and other oil companies. Analysts predict an increase in dividend payments and dividend yield of these companies. For example, Goldman Sachs believes that this year the free cash flow of Russian oil companies will be $ 33 billion, of which 21% of the sector's companies can spend on dividends - $ 6.93 billion. By 2020, Russian oil companies can pay dividends and a program of buybacks spend an average of 28% of the free cash flow, predicts the investment bank, but the amount does not.

BCS expects that following the results of 2018, the dividend yield of Rosneft will more than double to 5.6%. Bank of America has more optimistic forecasts - 7.34%. Its experts note that the company continues to trade with a 30-60% discount to global competitors. The dividend yield of Surgutneftegaz on preference shares in 2018 may approach 14% if the ruble rate remains unchanged, BCS predicts.

 The reason for the growth in yield on dividends is a decrease in appetite for takeovers abroad and exhaustion of opportunities to buy anything on the domestic market. "Russian oil companies have nothing else to do but spend money on dividends or on buyback programs," Goldman Sachs experts write.

Money for this is - from the rise in oil prices, oil companies can receive in 2018 a minimum of 1 trillion rubles. super profits, two federal officials told Vedomosti in the beginning of the summer. The oil companies have already received these superannuation - EBITDA of vertically integrated companies (Rosneft, Lukoil, Gazprom, Surgutneftegaz, Tatneft, etc.) increased by 1 trillion rubles in the first half of 2018. in comparison with the same period in 2017, says ACRA analyst Vasily Tanurkov. For January - June they earned 3.1 trillion rubles. EBITDA, says the expert.

Big expectations for Goldman Sachs from the reporting of Russian companies for the II quarter of this year: "Good figures will cause a rally in the sector." Good results are also expected by the largest minority shareholder of Rosneft, British BP. According to the company, Rosneft's net profit for the second quarter should grow almost 3 times to $ 3.9 billion against $ 1.5 billion in the first quarter of 2018. The reason is again the growth of ruble prices for oil, the weakness of the Russian currency.

Investors are attracted not only by dividends, but also by the intention at the moment of the two companies to conduct reverse buy-backs. This has already been announced by Rosneft (it intends to redeem shares for $ 2 billion) and Lukoil (by $ 3 billion). Rosneft did not disclose the parameters of the buyback, Lukoil intends to accomplish it after the quasi-treasury package has been redeemed (this year) for five years, the company said.

At least until the middle of next year, interest in Russian securities of oil companies will grow if expectations for the growth of dividend yield are justified, says analyst of Raiffeisenbank Andrei Polishchuk.

Oil consumption in Europe and Asia-Pacific countries is growing, while oil production in the United States is limited due to infrastructure problems, in Russia and OPEC countries - by an agreement, in other countries - by a low level of investment in production, the expert says. So he sees an opportunity to increase dividends by increasing free cash flow.

It is thanks to the high ruble prices for oil and the revision of the OPEC + financial results for 2018 from Russian oil workers will be impressive, said Moody's vice president Denis Perevezentsev. Moody's expects that the EBITDA of oil and gas companies in 2018 will be 30-40% higher than 2017, provided that high oil prices and a weak ruble remain in place until the end of the year. "And this will lead to an even stronger net profit growth, which will contribute to the growth of dividends," he adds. But the growth in investment attractiveness of Russian companies in the oil and gas sector is limited, even despite the stably expensive oil and weak ruble and low debt burden: it will be restrained by uncertainty about the possible strengthening of US sanctions sanctions, warns Perevezentsev.