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Apache Takes Cautious Step Toward 2019 With $2.4B Budget

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Apache Corporation (APA - Free Report) recently announced 2019 capital budget of $2.4 billion, which reflects uncertainty regarding oil price volatility. The company’s 2019 spending plan is 22.6% less than its 2018 spending guidance of $3.1 billion and 20% lower than its previous 2019 expenditure guidance of $3 billion. The company plans to allocate 70-75% of its capital budget toward U.S. operations.

WTI, the American benchmark, popped above $76 a barrel and touched multi-year highs in early October last year. However, it plunged nearly 30% at the end of the year, denting the confidence of the energy companies. As a result, several oil and gas companies cut short their spending for 2019.

Production

The company doesn’t expect the reduction in its planned capital expenditure to affect much of its production guidance, which is now estimated to be at the midpoint of its previously announced guidance range of 410,000-440,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

In other words, Apache expects 6-10% production growth in fourth-quarter 2019 from the prior-year period. Production in the United States is projected to grow at a 12-16% rate during this period, including 5% anticipated growth from the prolific Permian Basin. However, production from international assets is expected to be marginally lower.

Cashflow

Apache assumes oil price to average $53 per barrel in 2019, while natural gas price is estimated to average $2.80 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf). This is expected to make the company’s operations cash flow neutral, after dividend payments. Notably, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects WTI to average at $54.19 per barrel this year, with natural gas expected to average $2.89 per million British thermal units ($3 per Mcf). The company intends to return 50% or more of its generated free cash flow (if any) to its shareholders through buybacks and other measures.

More Information on Apache

Houston, TX-based Apache, which has a market capitalization of $11.3 billion, paid out more than $1.5 billion in dividends since 2015. In the second half of 2018, the company initiated a share buyback program, which enabled it to repurchase 7.8 million shares through Dec 31, at average price of around $39 per share. Moreover, since 2015, the Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company lowered its debt as well as future asset retirement obligations by around $4.2 billion. As of Sep 30, 2018, the oil giant had a long-term debt of $8.1 billion.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Other Companies That Issued 2019 Budget

Companies that have already issued 2019 capital budget with a similar cautious approach like Apache include Crescent Point Energy Corp. (CPG - Free Report) , Parsley Energy, Inc. (PE - Free Report) and Canadian Natural Resources Limited (CNQ - Free Report) .

Calgary, Canada-based Crescent Point chopped 2019 capital expenditure by around C$500 million (or 30%) from the previous year.

Austin, TX-based Parsley Energy expects 2019 capital expenditure in the range of $1,350-$1,550 million, which is lower than updated 2018 capex guidance of $1,650-$1,750 million.

Calgary, Canada-based Canadian Natural Resources’ capital budget for 2019 is estimated at C$3.7 billion, down 20% from projected investment in 2018 and well below its preferred range of C$4.7-C$5 billion.

Price Performance

Apache has lost 21.6% in the past year compared with 26.2% fall of its industry.

 

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