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Hess (HES) Up 55.9% in a Year: More Growth On the Horizon?

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Hess Corporation’s (HES - Free Report) shares have jumped 55.9% in the past year. The company not only managed to navigate through last year’s coronavirus-induced weakness in the market but also positioned itself for better returns in the future.

Headquartered in New York, Hess is primarily involved in the exploration and production of oil as well as natural gas around the globe. Also, it has profitable gathering, compressing, and processing operations of natural gas as well as fractionating natural gas liquids. It currently has a market cap of $22.1 billion.

Can It Retain Momentum?

The answer is yes and before we get into the details, let us show you how its estimates for 2021 stand. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings per share stands at $2.16, signaling a massive improvement from last year’s loss of $2.93. The consensus estimate for 2021 revenues is pegged at $6.8 billion, indicating a rise from $4.8 billion in 2020.

The company beat earnings estimates thrice in the last four quarters and met once, with an average surprise of 31.5%.

Hess Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Hess Corporation Price and EPS Surprise

Hess Corporation price-eps-surprise | Hess Corporation Quote

Now let’s delve into what’s driving the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock.

Guyana Discoveries

Hess recently announced the 20th significant discovery in the Stabroek Block, located off the coast of Guyana. With the latest oil discovery at the Pinktail well, the company has added to its previously estimated 9 billion barrels of oil equivalent recoverable resources in the block. The discoveries made so far at the site have the potential of adding at least six FPSO vessels by 2027. Furthermore, the number of FPSO vessels can rise to 10 in the block, wherein Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM - Free Report) is the operator. With Liza phase 2 likely to come online in early-2022, its cash flow situation is expected to see a major improvement. Hess anticipates multibillions of exploration potential to be still left in Guyana.

Prudent Capital Allocation

Hess expects 2021 exploration and production capital and exploration expenditure to be $1.9 billion, of which the majority will likely be directed toward Guyana and Bakken. The company is focusing on preserving cash and implementing a cost-reduction program, through which it will likely boost profitability as well as cash margins. From 2017 through 2021, it decreased cash unit production costs by 20%. This trend will provide a northbound thrust to the company’s bottom line.

In the September quarter, it expects to receive $375 million in net proceeds following Hess Midstream LP’s decision to repurchase a significant number of Hess Midstream Operations LP units.

Midstream Support

The company's midstream assets, which enable it to earn stable fee-based revenues, are a huge positive. From the midstream business, the company generated adjusted net earnings of $76 million in the June quarter, significantly up from $51 million a year ago on improvement in tariff rates and minimum volume commitments. With multiple vaccine rollouts and the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, the company sees a quick and sustained demand recovery.

Risks

Despite the upside potential, there are a few factors that are impeding the stock’s growth lately. At second quarter-end, the company had only $2,430 million in cash and cash equivalents. Its long-term debt was recorded at $7,712 million as of Jun 30, 2021. Debt to capitalization at quarter-end was 56.4%, reflecting a significant level of leverage. This can affect the company's financial flexibility. It expects 2021 net production (excluding Libya) to be 295,000 Boe/d, indicating a decline from the year-ago level of 331 Boe/d. Lower production volumes can affect the bottom line. Nevertheless, we believe that systematic and strategic plan of action will drive long-term growth.

Stocks to Consider

Some better-ranked stocks from the energy space include Devon Energy Corporation (DVN - Free Report) and Comstock Resources, Inc. (CRK - Free Report) , each having a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for Devon Energy’s bottom line for 2021 is pegged at $2.78 per share, indicating a massive improvement from the year-ago loss of 9 cents.

The consensus estimate for Comstock Resources’ earnings for 2021 is pegged at $1.10 per share, indicating a major increase from the year-ago figure of 23 cents.