ConocoPhillips (COP - Free Report) recently received a favorable ruling from the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes for the seizure of its assets by the Venezuelan government in 2007. Per the ruling, Venezuela has to pay $8.7 billion to ConocoPhillips, making it one of the largest arbitration settlements ever.
Earlier in 2013, the international arbitration panel ruled that the country violated one of its bilateral investment treaties as it seized the company’s stakes in three oil projects in the Orinoco Belt. The government is ordered to pay around $4.5 billion and $3.4 billion for ConocoPhillips' respective stakes in the Hamaca and Petrozuata projects, two heavy-oil programs in the Orinoco Belt. Moreover, Venezuela has to pay more than $562 million for seizing ConocoPhillips' Corocoro projects, located in the southwestern Gulf of Paria. The total amount of the award reflects around 40% of the company’s original claims.
ConocoPhillips may have to fight for collecting the payments, as the country has previously shown reluctance in paying up in other similar cases. Notably, the company was awarded $2 billion by the International Chamber of Commerce from PDVSA, the state-run energy company of Venezuela, for an arbitration process. While PDVSA was unwilling to pay up in the beginning, the U.S. energy major secured a court order, which slated an alternative way for collecting the amount.
Is Venezuela in a Position to Pay Up?
The oil-rich country is already under tremendous financial and political difficulties. Hence, the huge compensation amount can strain its financial position. Notably, Venezuela, a major OPEC member, has witnessed production plunge to a seven-decade low over the past few years. Lack of proper investments and inefficient management resulted in the downslide.
The financial sanctions imposed by Washington added to the country’s economic crisis. Venezuela’s former socialist leader, Late Hugo Chavez, brought a nationalization wave that has hit the country financially and led to more than 20 international arbitration claims. Most of these claims are still unpaid and pending. Hence, the mode of payment for the recent ruling in favour of ConocoPhillips is yet to be decided.
ConocoPhillips has gained 19.5% in the past year compared with 1.5% collective growth of its industry.
Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider
ConocoPhillips currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors interested in the energy sector can opt for some better-ranked stocks as given below:
Denver, CO-based Antero Resources Corporation (AR - Free Report) is an upstream energy company. Its top line for 2019 is expected to increase 11.8% year over year. The stock currently has a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.
Austin, TX-based Jones Energy, Inc. is an exploration and production company. For 2019, its bottom line, which has witnessed one upside revision over the past 60 days, is expected to grow 19% year over year. The company currently holds a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).
Lonestar Resources US Inc. (LONE - Free Report) is a Fort Worth, TX-based exploration and production company. Its top line for 2019 is expected to increase 6.4% year over year. It currently has a Zacks Rank #2.
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