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August 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Baupost Group Letter

Thanks to a subscriber for this letter by Seth Klarman and team. Here is a section focusing on appetite for risk:

Fed policy has been magnificently successful in achieving its objectives not only of lifting securities prices but also of altering investor behavior. The Fed wanted to influence buyers of securities to be bolder in their pursuit of return. The head of a major pension fund recently authored a piece describing how the fund had responded to lofty markets and low yields on safe debt instruments. Their reaction was not to lower the fund’s currently aggressive 7% risk-adjusted return objective to a more realistic threshold, but instead to direct more assets into “lower volatility” private investments while leveraging the portfolio. Private investments, of course, have the same underlying risk and inherent volatility as public investments – though because they are not publicly traded, their intermittent and privately determined appraisals may make them appear to be less volatile. And as for the choice to leverage up, we can only note that leverage is a double-edged sword that enhances returns in good times while sinking them in down markets. If markets falter, this fund will have not solved its problems but rather have multiplied them.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Pension funds, life insurance companies and other firms with predictable future outlays are in a difficult position. If they do not take on additional risk, they will certainly not be able to meet their obligations. Alternatively, if they do take on additional risks, they might be able to reach their goals. However, that chance at success comes with the implied understanding that the alternative is financial oblivion.



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July 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Conoco Plunge Shows U.S. Oil Struggling to Exit Crisis Mode

This article by Kevin Crowley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

On the bright side, Chief Executive Officer Ryan Lance said he’s encouraged by low premiums for shale acquisitions, citing Chevron’s recent agreement to buy Noble Energy.

When asked if Conoco also looked into buying Noble, Lance said “we did look,” but he was worried that Noble’s Israel assets might have been the source of political tension, since Conoco operates in other areas of the Middle East.

“The gem is certainly the Middle Eastern gas position,” he said. “With some of the other things we’re doing in the Middle East, that creates maybe a little bit of an issue and problem for us politically.”

Conoco’s earnings miss followed reports from three shale-focused explorers on Wednesday that signaled a grim rest of 2020 for the broader U.S. oil industry. QEP Resources Inc. cut its production outlook, WPX Energy Inc. further reduced its capital spending budget, while Concho Resources Inc. stuck with plans to keep crude volumes flat from 2019 levels, ending years of growth.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Bankruptcies in the oil patch are likely to continue to trend higher because so many projects have break-evens in the $60 area. That is creating buying opportunities for the majors and the chance to rationalise the onshore domestic US production landscape. That will be necessary in order to survive because global demand will take time to recover from the virus hiatus.



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July 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Once-Unpopular Carbon Credits Emerge as One of the World's Best Investments

This article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It’s attracting hedge-fund speculators,” said Norbert Rücker, head of economics at Swiss private bank Julius Baer. “With this move, carbon has really come back to life this year and it’s attracted a lot of interest—we have clients reaching out to us asking about it.”

The resurgence in carbon-credit prices began in mid-2017 when EU policy makers agreed to sharply reduce the number of available credits. That has pushed up prices and allowed the carbon market to help fulfill its purpose of punishing excess polluters. With the market set up to constrict credit supply, prices should rise further still, analysts say.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The success of Tesla, in gaming the carbon credit system to its advantage, has woken the rest of the globe up to the possibilities government sponsored markets hold.



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July 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla's $200 Billion Question Remains Unanswered

This article by Chris Bryant for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

And yet the earnings call — where Musk has in the past ranted about “fascist” virus lockdowns and attacked analysts for asking “boring, bonehead” questions — was a bit of a snooze. It even featured a long discussion about insurance and Musk’s appreciation for the actuarial profession.

In the current economic environment, such steadiness is an achievement. Most car companies will probably suffer huge losses because of the recent closures of factories and showrooms, even if things won’t be quite as bad as feared initially. By contrast, Tesla reported $104 million of net income in the April to June period, bringing its total profit over the past four quarters to $368 million.

Still, these are modest amounts for a company that’s valued at an inexplicable 800 times trailing earnings, giving it a $295 billion market capitalization. 

The profits are also more than accounted for by $1 billion of regulatory credits that Tesla sold to other carmakers during the 12 months to June, including $428 million in the latest quarter. It’s only able to earn this income because rivals haven’t gotten their act together yet on building enough electric vehicles and have to buy credits from Musk’s company to satisfy emissions regulators. Tesla acknowledges this good fortune won’t last forever.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Without clear support from green regulations the company would be incapable of generating a profit. That effectively means Tesla’s competitors are being forced to fund its expansion. It’s an odd situation which runs contrary to the basic conditions of capitalism, but it is the reality provided by the market. It’s part of Elon Musk’s genius that he realised that fact before everyone else.



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July 22 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Big Cycle of the United States and the Dollar, Part 2

This latest chapter of Ray Dalio’s book includes a number of interesting titbits to chew over. Here is a section:

The US dollar accounts for over 50% of reserves held and has unwaveringly remained the primary reserve currency since 1945, especially after it replaced gold as the most-held reserve asset after there was a move to a fiat monetary system.  European currencies have remained steady at 20-25% since the late 1970s, the yen and sterling are around 5%, and the Chinese RMB is only 2%, which is far below its share of world trade and world economic size, for reasons we will delve into in the Chinese section of this book.  As has been the case with the Dutch guilder and the British pound, the status of the US dollar has significantly lagged and is significantly greater than other measures of its power.

That means that if the US dollar were to lose its reserve status and significantly depreciate in value it would have a devastating effect on the finances of those countries holding those reserves as well as private-sector holders of dollar-debt assets.  Who would be the winners?  Those with dollar-debt liabilities and those with non-dollar assets would be the big winners.  In the concluding chapter, “The Future,” we will explore what such a shift might look like. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The massive increase in the supply of currency since the end of the quantitative tightening regime last year is a headwind for the US Dollar. The fact the monetary and fiscal assistance programs deployed by the USA are much larger than in other countries is certainly a near-term headwind for the Dollar but the big question is whether this is a secular change?



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July 21 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Frackers Are in Crisis, Endangering America's Energy Renaissance

This article by Bryan Gruley, Kevin Crowley, Rachel Adams-Heard and David Wethe for Bloomberg. Here is a section:

Texas oil people who’ve lived through past busts remain resolute. This spring the Railroad Commission of Texas, which regulates the oil industry, considered limiting crude production in the hope of bolstering prices amid the Saudi-Russia price war. Some Texans reacted with disdain. “Texas, out of all states, represents a humble, steadfast resolve that refuses to sacrifice its principles due to foreign influence,” David Dale, a Houston-area land manager for oil and gas producer Ovintiv Inc., wrote to the commission. Troy Eckard of Eckard Enterprises LLC in Allen, Texas, told regulators that Russia and Saudi Arabia are “terrorists” whose “game of supply hostage is not the time to bow down and sell out. Let the weak go broke. Let the overpaid, poorly run private equity-back[ed] companies fall by the wayside. Leave us to our own free-market solutions.” The commission stood pat.

As oil historian Daniel Yergin has observed, companies go bankrupt, rocks don’t. Assuming prices slowly recover, producers will begin to turn wells back on—a process that’s never been tried at this large a scale—and maybe drill some new ones. Whether they start paying pumpers better remains to be seen. Opportune LLP, a Houston energy advisory firm, says pumpers and other service companies face “a test of survivability, not profitability.” Consolidation seems likely, with producers themselves possibly acquiring the smaller service companies on the cheap.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The initial surge in production from shale oil reserves was driven by wildcatters and the viability of the business model was predicated on high prices persisting. The reality that much of the USA’s shale production is higher cost is now leading to many of these companies going bankrupt or experiencing significant problems.



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July 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Out to pasture!

This is potentially Edward Ballsdon’s final post for his Grey Fire Horse blog and may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Recently there has been discussion about yield curve control (YCC), and whether the FED will introduce a new policy on managing interest rates. Do not be fooled - this is a rather large red herring, as the debt is now too large in the US (as it is in most major economies) to raise rates without the increased interest cost having a debilitating effect on annual government budget figures.

There is no longer $ 1trn of outstanding US federal Bills - in June the outstanding amount surpassed $ 5trn. If rates rise from 0.2% to 2%, the ANNUAL interest cost just on that segment of the outstanding $19trn debt would rise from ~$ 8.5bn to ~$ 102bn. Naturally you would also need to also factor in the impact of higher interest rate costs on leveraged households and corporates.

This is the red herring - the size of the debt will force monetary policy. To think that the central bank can raise rates means ignoring the consequence from the debt stock. And this is the root of my lower for longer view, which is obviously influenced from years of studying Japan, and which is now almost completely priced in to rates markets. Remember that the YCC in Japan led to a severe reduction of the BOJ buying of JGBs - it just did not have to.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Japanification of the developed world represents a massive challenge for investors in search of yield. 90% of all sovereign bonds have yields below 1% and the total of bonds with negative yields is back at $14 trillion and climbing.



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July 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chapter 4: The Big Cycle of the United States and the Dollar, Part 1

This is the most recent instalment of Ray Dalio’s book on big cycles. Here is a section:

Like Germany, Japan was also hit exceptionally hard by the depression and became more autocratic in response to it.  Japan was especially vulnerable to the depression because, as an island nation without adequate natural resources, it relied on exports for income to import necessities.  When its exports fell by around 50% between 1929 and 1931, it was economically devastated.  In 1931, the depression in Japan was so severe that the country went broke—i.e., it was forced to draw down its gold reserves, abandon the gold standard, and float its currency, which depreciated it so greatly that Japan ran out of buying power.  These terrible conditions and large wealth gaps led to fighting between the left and the right.  In 1932 that led to a massive upsurge in right-wing nationalism and militarism to forcefully restore order and bring back economic stability.  To that end, Japan’s military took control and pursued military options to get Japan the resources it needed by taking them away from other countries.  Japan invaded Manchuria in 1931 and later expanded through China and Asia to obtain natural resources (e.g., oil, iron, coal, and rubber) and human resources (i.e., slave labor).  As in the German case, it could be argued that this path of military aggression to get needed resources was the best path for the Japanese because relying on classic trading and economic practices wouldn’t have gotten them what they needed.   

Shifting to more autocratic, populist, and nationalist leaders and policies during times of extreme economic stress is typical, as people want strong leadership to bring order to the chaos and to deal strongly with the outside enemy.  In 1934, there was severe famine in parts of Japan, causing even more political turbulence and reinforcing the right-wing, militaristic, nationalistic, and expansionistic movement.  

In the years that followed, this movement in Japan, like that in Germany, became increasingly strong with its top-down fascist command economy, building a military-industrial complex with the military mobilized to protect its existing bases in East Asia and northern China and its expansion into other territories.  As was also the case in Germany, during this time, while most Japanese companies remained outside government ownership, their production was controlled by the government.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It makes sense that no one would enter a war under the assumption they are going to lose more than they gain. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude the increasing competition between China and the USA will not result in a war until one side clearly believes they can win. Nuclear weapons obviously complicate the calculus.



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July 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From the Oil Patch July 15th 2020

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Allen Brooks for PPHB. This issue includes a comprehensive discussion on the viability of a hydrogen economy. Here is a section:

The conclusion that comes from our examination of hydrogen is that without some major technological breakthrough that reduces the cost of producing it substantially, the economic hurdle will not be overcome.  That means the only way hydrogen could become an important energy source is with government intervention in the energy market and assigning a price to carbon, or subsidizing the hydrogen fuel.  At this point in time, as governments around the world struggle to reopen their economies and repair the financial damage done to their citizens and businesses by the response to the pandemic, it is difficult to see them embracing carbon prices, which raises energy costs for their people and companies.  This is why the strong push, especially in Europe, for tying net-zero carbon emission policies in government stimulus efforts to rebuild their economies following Covid-19.  We suggest energy executives, analysts and investors worry more about the debates over the economic rebuilding efforts than the short-term moves in oil prices, demand and supply.  The long-term future of the oil market will be impacted by the success of governments instituting carbon prices.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

Natural gas and coal prices are low in both nominal and relative terms. Economics 101 dictates that when the price of a vital commodity falls, consumers will naturally migrate towards it and find new uses for the resource.



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July 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Skai revises targets for its liquid-hydrogen, long-range eVTOL

This article by Loz Blain for NewAtlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

One challenge for anyone who wants to work with liquid hydrogen is that you need to keep it extremely cold to keep it in its liquid state. At atmospheric pressure levels, we're talking just 20.28 kelvins above absolute zero (−252.87 °C, or −423.17 °F).

That temperature can rise a little if you're willing to pressurize as well as cool (using a cryogenic system running between 250 and 700 bar of pressure), but Gunter says that's not part of Skai's plans, as "even a moderately pressurized system has significant weight penalties."

So, super-cooling it'll be, and while that entails extra energy losses in the liquefaction stage, the cooling equipment, the conversion back into gas for use in the fuel cell and in boil-off in the tank itself, the net result will still be a much longer range aircraft than anyone dealing with gaseous hydrogen – or certainly lithium batteries – will be able to deliver.

It'll be interesting to see how Skai gets the job done, as really you've got to look to NASA and other space programs to find liquid hydrogen being used in serious volumes.

"The good thing in all of this," says Gunter, "is the notable developments that occur in this space on an increasing basis. The efficiencies we’ve seen in fuel cells and the same the industry is seeing regarding H2 production all point to increasing effectiveness of any form of H2 as a future focused solution."

"There's a number of naysayers about what we're doing with hydrogen," says Hanvey, "but we believe we've gone from the question to the possible, and it's now the probable. We know we can fly with hydrogen, and the question is just how quickly we can get it to the market. And based on our experience, we think we can get there a lot quicker than perhaps the market will give us credit for."

Eoin Treacy's view -

Hydrogen’s energy density is orders of magnitude greater than any other fuel currently used in the global economy. The only reason we don’t already use it is because of the technological difficulty of containing what is a highly combustible material. The whole world knows about the Hindenburg accident 83 year ago, which put an end to transatlantic zeppelin travel. It did to the hydrogen industry what the Fukushima accident did to nuclear.



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July 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Gold-Oil Ratio Revisited

Thanks to a subscriber for this article from Goehring & Rozencwajg which may be of interest. Here is a section:

However, looking only when the gold-oil ratio has exceeded 30:1 (i.e., oil is cheap relative to gold), crude has returned 32% on average over the next twelve months (over four times its long-term average), while gold has returned 4% on average. Oil was lower only 13% of the time (70% less often). On average, oil outperformed gold by 28% during these periods compared with 2% normally.

At the other extreme, when the gold-oil ratio was less than 10:1 (i.e., oil was expensive relative to gold), crude lost 7% on average over the next twelve months and was negative nearly 60% of the time. Gold returned 18% on average during these periods, outperforming oil by 25%. Since 80% of all observations occur when the ratio is between 10 and 30 you should expect the relative returns of both gold and oil to be like their long-run averages and that is exactly what occurred. When the ratio was between 10 and 30, oil returned 5% on average in the following 12 months, and was lower 41% of the time while gold returned 4% and was lower 33% of the time, roughly in line with long-term averages.

We last used this analysis in early 2016 to justify our investments in oil-related securities. At that point, the gold-oil ratio hit a then-record 47:1. We argued that oil prices were set to surge and invested in oil-weighted E&P securities as a result. Over the next 30-months, oil rallied by 191% from $26 per barrel to $76 per barrel by October 2018. Gold on the other hand fell by 4% over the same period. Oil stocks (as measured by the XLE ETF) advanced by 56%, well in excess of gold stocks (as measured by the GDX) which rose only 3% but lagging the S&P 500 which advanced 69%.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The gold/oil ratio spent much of the last couple of decades ranging mostly between 10 and 30. On the small number of occasions is veered outside of those bands the move was quickly reversed. It has therefore been reliable indicator of where value was present on repeated occasions. However, the current reading questions that conclusion. 



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July 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

China Has Already Declared Cold War on the U.S

This article by Niall Ferguson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Yet the book that has done the most to educate me about how China views America and the world today is, as I said, not a political text, but a work of science fiction. "The Dark Forest" was Liu Cixin’s 2008 sequel to the hugely successful "Three-Body Problem." It would be hard to overstate Liu’s influence in contemporary China: He is revered by the Shenzhen and Hangzhou tech companies, and was officially endorsed as one of the faces of 21st-century Chinese creativity by none other than … Wang Huning.

"The Dark Forest," which continues the story of the invasion of Earth by the ruthless and technologically superior Trisolarans, introduces Liu’s three axioms of “cosmic sociology.”

First, “Survival is the primary need of civilization.” Second, “Civilization continuously grows and expands, but the total matter in the universe remains constant.” Third, “chains of suspicion” and the risk of a “technological explosion” in another civilization mean that in space there can only be the law of the jungle. In the words of the book’s hero, Luo Ji: The universe is a dark forest. Every civilization is an armed hunter stalking through the trees like a ghost … trying to tread without sound … The hunter has to be careful, because everywhere in the forest are stealthy hunters like him. If he finds other life — another hunter, an angel or a demon, a delicate infant or a tottering old man, a fairy or a demigod — there’s only one thing he can do: open fire and eliminate them.

In this forest, hell is other people … any life that exposes its own existence will be swiftly wiped out. Kissinger is often thought of (in my view, wrongly) as the supreme American exponent of Realpolitik. But this is something much harsher than realism. This is intergalactic Darwinism.

Of course, you may say, it’s just sci-fi. Yes, but "The Dark Forest" gives us an insight into something we think too little about: how Xi’s China thinks. It’s not up to us whether or not we have a Cold War with China, if China has already declared Cold War on us. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Three Body Problem is an excellent read and The Dark Forest follows on well from where it left off. The third book in the series, Death’s End, was too meandering for me and I did not finish reading it. For a non-Chinese reader, the names can be a bit of an obstacle but the story is compelling.



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July 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on hydrogen

I loved your article but why don't you mention the rise of hydrogen and the use of green hydrogen as being a valuable alternative as an energy storage tool for the future (we are talking about 2040!)? It's also more logical as energy source for trucks as batteries alone are far too heavy...

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and this email which raises some important points. I have been of the opinion for years that the low price of natural gas would seed a hydrogen economy. That now appears to be coming to fruition. Ultimately, the production of hydrogen will be replaced with less reliance on fossil fuels, but we are reliant on gas for at least the next decade to deliver supply.



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July 01 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla China Plant Might Have Come to the Rescue Last Quarter

This article by Dana Hull for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

“The lesson learned by now is that TSLA shares tend to ‘work’ when something new has launched,” Jeffrey Osborne, a Cowen Inc. analyst with the equivalent of a sell rating on the stock, said in a report Tuesday. “At this point both the Model Y and China built cars are ramping up.”

Musk, 49, suggested to Tesla employees early this week that the company could manage to avoid a quarterly loss.

“Breaking even is looking super tight,” the CEO wrote to staff in an email seen by Bloomberg. “Really makes a difference for every car you build and deliver. Please go all out to ensure victory!”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has done an admirable job of keeping production on line globally even as sporadic shutdowns at home impaired manufacturing. The decision by California to mandate emission free trucking by 2040 is an additional tailwind for the battery producer. 



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June 29 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chesapeake's Collapse Is Latest in Long Line of Shale Busts

This article by David Wethe for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

More than 200 North American oil and gas producers, owing over $130 billion in debt, have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of 2015, according to a May report from law firm Haynes & Boone. This month alone, seven oil and gas companies have gone under, tying December 2015 for the busiest on record after crude prices plunged amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The shale boom spearheaded by the likes of Chesapeake a decade ago was fueled by debt. Profitability and shareholder returns have been consistently disappointing, and investors had already grown wary of throwing more money into shale before this year’s oil crash. The rate of default on high-yield energy debt stood at 11%, Fitch Ratings said in a June 11 report, the highest level since April 2017.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unconventional drilling is capital intensive. Arguably, it would not have been a viable development option for new supply without the tailwind of very low interest rates and abundant liquidity. The challenge the sector faces is once a well begins producing, there is a very steep increase in supply, followed by a steep decline. That ensures companies are very exposed to near-term oil prices. The significant volatility in commodity prices has been a headwind for the sector, because most operations are profitable in the region of $60-$80 a barrel.



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June 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Occidental, AB InBev Lead Debt-Laden Firms Buying Back Bonds

This article by Molly Smith for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Occidental Petroleum Corp. and Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV are seeking to buy back bonds through separate tender offers launched Thursday. Both are targeting debt due in the next three years.

Companies are seeking breathing room on debt payments as they contend with lower earnings amid the coronavirus outbreak, threatening to push leverage even higher. Credit raters are running out of patience: Occidental, already one of the largest fallen angels of this cycle, may be cut again by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings, while AB InBev was recently downgraded by S&P with a negative outlook.

Both companies largely amassed their massive debt loads by funding acquisitions. Much of Occidental’s nearly $40 billion of debt came from borrowing to help finance its takeover of Anadarko Petroleum Corp. last year, while AB InBev’s roughly $103 billion of obligations mostly stems from its purchase of SABMiller Plc in 2016.

While some firms are looking to buy back debt outright, others are pursuing different liability management exercises to push out maturities. Rite Aid Corp. launched a $750 million exchange offer Thursday, while Macy’s Inc. initiated one earlier this week. They’re also trying to amend certain covenants through what are known as consent solicitations.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Corporate debt issuance has surged over the last three years to a new all-time high and combined total of $2.4 trillion in only a couple of months. That is all aimed at ensuring they have enough capital to see them through a particularly uncertain period.



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June 15 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BP Writes Off Billions as Covid Redraws Rules of Oil Demand

This article by Laura Hurst and Amanda Jordan for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

BP Plc will make the biggest writedown on the value of its business since the Deepwater Horizon disaster a decade ago, as the coronavirus pandemic hurts long-term oil demand and accelerates the shift to cleaner energy.

In a dramatic revision that prompted questions about the affordability of its dividend, the British giant cut its estimates for oil and gas prices in the coming decades between 20% and 30%. It also expects the cost of carbon emissions to be more than twice as high as before.

Under its new Chief Executive Officer Bernard Looney, BP has been quicker than many of its peers to plan for a low-carbon world. Yet moves toward a more sustainable future are bringing financial pain today, and investors are asking fundamental questions about the value of oil majors.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It’s a good time to take write downs for any major corporation. With the negative economic backdrop, global pandemic and collapse in oil prices, more than a few companies are likely to use this as an opportunity to clean their balance sheets.



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June 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on carbon credits

First of all, thanks for the excellent service, I have been a subscriber since 1987. One thing that confuses me is the obsession with carbon emission in the world. This has become a political issue, and media deny to debate it. Could you please elaborate a bit on this theme, and let me know what you rely on these days, where do you get your information on this matter, or is it simply follow the money?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and support over the years. When I think about carbon credits, I am reminded of Ronald Reagan’s quip If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”



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June 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

A Million-Mile Battery From China Could Power Your Electric Car

This article from Bloomberg news may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

CATL struck a two-year contract in February to supply batteries to Tesla, a major boon for the Chinese company as the U.S. electric-car leader has thus far mainly worked with Japan’s Panasonic Corp. and South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd. The deal followed months of negotiations, with Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk traveling to Shanghai to meet with Zeng.

The CATL batteries are set to go into Model 3 sedans produced at Tesla’s massive new factory near Shanghai, which started deliveries around the beginning of this year. Batteries are the costliest part of an EV, meaning suppliers of those components have a chance to reap a lion’s share of the industry’s profits.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A battery which does not lose its charging capacity for over one million miles is a significant technological advance for the electric car industry. One of the biggest inhibiting factors, apart from cost, which deterred consumers from buying electric cars was their low resale value. The degradation of the battery over only a couple of years basically made cars worthless. The introduction of the million-mile battery completely changes that calculus. The next obstacles are the recharging network and range on a single charge.



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June 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on caution at potential areas of resistance

“You have been calling for some ‘consolidation’ for equity markets for a number of weeks now (which I expected too), but this just hasn’t come to pass. Instead we have seen a relentless charge higher in virtually every market. You’ve stated that it’s liquidity driven which until recently at least, little participation from the professional money managers. Short term yields no longer can be relied upon as a risk indicator with the Fed deliberately compressing yields at the front end. To what extent, if any, has this recent episode viewed the way you look at markets through a charting lense. A despondent sceptic of this rally here, it seems the only winning strategy is just to ride the liquidity train, and rotate one’s positions towards riskier assets (travel, emerging etc) as the new safe havens (tech) reach maturity.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. In a response to a similar email on May 12th. I led with this observation. “The best time to buy is following a significant pullback. The next best opportunity is following the first reaction from an important low. The next will be when a breakout to new highs occurs.



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June 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Set to Extend Oil Cuts as Meeting Called for Weekend

This article by Javier Blas and Grant Smith for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

But members of the 23-nation OPEC+ alliance have a lot to gain by preserving their agreement. They have helped engineer a doubling in Brent prices since April, easing pressure on their government budgets of oil-rich nations.

The accord has also revived the fortunes of major energy companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. and Royal Dutch Shell Plc, and prompted some U.S. producers to consider restarting wells just weeks after they were idled.

The deal in April set out historic cuts of 9.7 million barrels a day, or roughly 10% of global oil supplies, to offset the unprecedented collapse in demand caused by the virus lockdowns. Then a few weeks later, Saudi Arabia and its closest allies in the Persian Gulf promised additional supply restraint of 1.2 million barrels a day in June.

Those reductions were set to ease to 7.7 million barrels a day from July 1. so failure to reach an agreement this month could have brought a flood of oil back onto the market and undermined a tentative recovery as countries start emerging from coronavirus lockdowns.

With American shale production starting to come back online, OPEC’s careful management of the demand recovery is crucial.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The coronavirus spread in a wave around the world and resuming demand for just about everything is also likely to come back sequentially. Chinese demand is recovering, European demand is also recovering and the USA will follow. Latin America’s infection rate is probably close to peaking which suggests demand will begin to recover in the middle of the summer.



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May 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Elon Musk's SpaceX Readies First Astronaut Launch by Private Firm

This article by Andy Pasztor for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

SpaceX’s efforts to launch astronauts into orbit have suffered various delays, totaling about four years, including two catastrophic explosions of its Falcon 9 rocket and nagging safety concerns about the Dragon capsule riding on top.

Having a reliable American system would mean NASA astronauts no longer need to piggyback on Russian rockets and spacecraft, as they have since the aging U.S. space-shuttle fleet was retired nine years ago. Looking ahead, NASA and White House officials envision emphasizing deep-space exploration as part of a commitment to relying on similar corporate-government teams. Those would include company-led endeavors, with relatively limited federal oversight, taking astronauts to the moon as soon as 2024 and later to Mars or beyond.

Along those lines, Mr. Musk’s team has proposed a mammoth rocket carrying a companion deep-space craft—partly stainless steel and reaching some 40 stories together—intended to eventually transport large numbers of passengers. So far, NASA has committed $135 million to help develop the portion that could serve as a lunar lander.

Some longtime NASA watchers see the current mission as a crucial steppingstone, perhaps as significant in some ways as the Gemini missions of the mid-1960s that paved the way for the Apollo moon landings. But this time, making the government “a customer rather than operator is as astonishing as it is bold for NASA,” said Mark Albrecht, a former White House space adviser and retired senior industry executive. “NASA will take the blame for failure and allow SpaceX to receive most of the glory of success.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Elon Musk will probably be remembered as the father of electric vehicles and simultaneously the father of interplanetary travel. However, while he is an engineering genius, his expertise in getting other people to pay for his aspirational dreams is truly worthy of praise. Tesla might be a battery company, but it would not exist without carbon credits where its competitors fund its expansion.



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May 14 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on inconsistency in medium-term trends.

Eoin - appreciate your use of both the P&F and weekly chart against the moving average in your discussion of Microsoft.  When evaluating the consistency pattern of stocks (Microsoft and others), how do you "adjust" for circumstances such as COVID 19?  Clearly, Microsoft was negatively impacted like many other equities in the COVID induced meltdown, but has also rebounded more smartly than others.  Thanks, as always, for your insight and willingness to share same.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which gets to the heart of a question I think most people are thinking at present. There are three important considerations when looking at market reaction. These are: where are we in the secular trend? Is liquidity expanding or contracting? What does the chart tell us about sentiment?



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May 05 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From The Oil Patch May 5th 2020

Thanks to subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ every interesting report for PPHB. Here is a section:

These large stock buybacks, coupled with increased debt, despite low interest rates, have contributed to a remarkable decline in corporate cash balances.  Cash balances for S&P 500 Index companies have fallen to the lowest level since 1980, while debt has soared.  Based on how volatile these two measures have become, we wonder whether, following the recession we certainly are in, cash on company balance sheets becomes a prized asset.  Likewise, will debt become toxic?  Given very low interest rates, something not likely to change anytime soon, will corporate executives adjust how they manage their balance sheets?  

Traditionally, dividends account for about 2% and share buybacks about 3% of the historical annual average stock market return of 5%.  The cessation of share buybacks would cut investor return expectations more than in half, and returns will be further reduced to the extent that dividends are eliminated and/or restricted.  That will be a huge blow to investors who sought out stock market returns to replace those lost from bonds due to low interest rates.  The neighboring chart shows that about 6% of buyback programs, representing 14% of the expected value of buybacks for energy, have been suspended so far this year.  We certainly expect these numbers to rise as the year unfolds, regardless of legal restrictions imposed by government relief payments, due to cash-preservation steps by managements following the oil price collapse.  

As Exhibit 17 shows, energy in the S&P 500 Index was the fourth lowest sector, ranked by dollars committed to share buybacks.  Not a surprise, given the oil price crash of 2014, was the sharp decline in dollars spent on share buybacks over the last five years compared to the last 10 years.  The amount of money spent on energy share buybacks for 2015-2019 was only 31% of the 10-year expenditures.  We will not be surprised to see the next 5-year period having even less money spent on stock buybacks, unless there is a miracle recovery in oil prices.  

If we consider what investor returns by sector of the S&P 500 were in the fourth quarter of 2019, energy topped the list with nearly a 10.5% yield.  That was nearly 80% greater than the yield of the S&P 500 Index.  That will change in 2020, and likely in 2021, as we expect that is how long it will take for the oil market to balance.  The unanswered question is how the risk profile for investing in energy stocks may change, as well as investing in the stock market overall?

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Suibscriber's Area.

Royal Dutch Shell cuts its dividend last week which was a significant departure from its long-held policy of reliable payouts. However, the move was anticipated by the significant decline in the share over the last few months and the decision did have had a measure effect on the price. The primary reason investors look at the energy sector now is because of the attractive valuations. Meanwhile, the uncertain outlook for the oil price is the reason valuations have improved.



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April 30 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on dividend champions and contenders

I am really enjoying Mr Treacy’s comments of the day and look forward to it every morning.

Mr Treacy in today’s update mentioned key sectors that have the most chance of trending up over the next decade – and alluded to a couple shares (e.g. Google and Apple) that may make it to dividend aristocrat list in 10-15 years.

It would be great if Mr Treacy could provide a list of top 20-50 shares that have steadily increased dividends over the last 10 years and based on trends have the highest probably on making it to dividend aristocrat list in 10-15 years.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and this email which may be of interest. I mentioned in last night’s audio that technology companies are often among the most reliable in increasing their dividends once they eventually decide to initiate payments. That’s been true of companies like Apple and Microsoft but Google and Amazon do not pay dividends so even if they started today it would be 2045 before they become dividend aristocrats. For a list of companies with solid records of dividend increases, but which do not yet fulfil the criteria to be dividend aristocrats, take at a look at the dividend champions and contenders sections of the International Equity Library. 



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April 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

'Instead of Coronavirus, the Hunger Will Kill Us' A Global Food Crisis Looms

This article by Abdi Latif Dahir for The New York Times may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The coronavirus has sometimes been called an equalizer because it has sickened both rich and poor, but when it comes to food, the commonality ends. It is poor people, including large segments of poorer nations, who are now going hungry and facing the prospect of starving.

“The coronavirus has been anything but a great equalizer,” said Asha Jaffar, a volunteer who brought food to families in the Nairobi slum of Kibera after the fatal stampede. “It’s been the great revealer, pulling the curtain back on the class divide and exposing how deeply unequal this country is.”

Already, 135 million people had been facing acute food shortages, but now with the pandemic, 130 million more could go hungry in 2020, said Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Program, a United Nations agency. Altogether, an estimated 265 million people could be pushed to the brink of starvation by year’s end.

While the system of food distribution and retailing in rich nations is organized and automated, he said, systems in developing countries are “labor intensive,” making “these supply chains much more vulnerable to Covid-19 and social distancing regulations.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Transportation networks have been severely impacted by the coronavirus lockdowns and that is having a significant knock-on effect for vulnerable communities all over the world. There is no shortage of food globally, but the uncertainty the lockdowns introduced have disrupted harvest and slaughter schedules. That is putting upward pressure on some commodities prices while depressing others. The international challenge will be in ensuring commodities get to where they are needed in time to protect the lives of people in the emerging markets.



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April 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on uranium

Thanks for the insightful video, as always, Eoin. Have you had a look at the uranium sector lately? The spot price has jumped along with the miners, including Cameco and Denison which jumped 26% yesterday. Is the long-awaited supply crunch coming into play and how long will the uptrend last? Your thoughts on this will be appreciated.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thanks for this question which may be of interest to subscribers. The shutting down of both transportation and some mining operations has created a short-term supply shortage which is supporting the outperformance of uranium. It’s the number one best performing commodity this year but the supply shortage is unlikely to last beyond the lockdown phase of the virus-induced recession.



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April 16 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

GM Plots an EV Comeback Inside Its Secretive Battery Lab

This article by Bill Howard for Extreme Tech may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In 2019, about 3 million pickups were sold out of 17 million vehicles. Nobody knows the size of the EV pickup market initially, or how badly EV range suffers under a heavy load (Tesla owners have known range tanks when a Model S or Model X tows a trailer), or if buyers are willing to pay extra to get the large batteries that allow 300 t0 400 miles of range on pickups.

As for the market for all plug-in vehicles – battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids – the final 2019 US sales numbers for light vehicles amount to combustion-engine-only cars, 98.1 percent of the market, BEVs and PHEVs 1.9 percent.

There is some hope – among environmentalists, at least – that Americans, in the wake of the coronavirus slowdown, will appreciate the cleaner skies in major cities and adopt plug-in vehicles to keep the air clear and clean. GM’s battery R&D is for its worldwide markets, not just the US, and it may find more traction outside the US. Depending on how many people and businesses have money to spend on new cars in the next year.

At the Ultium rollout, GM cited forecasters who called for EV volumes to double between 2025 and 2030 to 3 million units annually – one in six vehicles sold – and added its belief the numbers could be “materially higher.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The point in the above piece, that the global market influences the kind of cars US companies produce is an understatement. The most profitable market for conventional US automakers is the pick-up truck, which is a predominately North American vehicle. All other markets are heavily influenced by whatever China demands.



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April 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudis, Russians End Oil-Price War With Deep Output Cut

This article by Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Saudi Arabia and Russia ended a devastating oil price war on Thursday, agreeing to slash output together with other members of the OPEC+ alliance in an effort to lift the market from a pandemic-driven collapse.

The tentative deal came after strong pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump and American lawmakers, who fear thousands of job losses in the U.S. shale patch, not to mention Wall Street chaos. The price crash has also threatened the stability of oil-dependent nations and forced companies from Exxon Mobil Corp. to small independents to rein in spending.

OPEC and its allies, meeting by video conference, agreed to cut production by about 10 million barrels a day in May and June, delegates said, asking not to be identified ahead of an official statement. Saudi Arabia and Russia, the biggest producers in the group, will each take output down to about 8.5 million a day, with all members agreeing to cut supply by 23%, one delegate said.

“Both Saudi and Russia were going to have to cut anyway, and these cuts allow them to win political points too,” said Amrita Sen, chief oil analyst at consultant Energy Aspects Ltd.

While the headline cut equates to a historic reduction of about 10% of global supply, it makes up just a fraction of the demand loss, which some traders estimate at as much as 35 million barrels a day.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The oil price turf war is over, for now, but unfortunately the cuts announced are not near enough to rebalance the market in the near term. The very fact the Federal Reserve supplemented its stimulus with an additional $2 trillion in spending today, only a week after the last announcement is a testament to how weak economic activity is, even if it turns out to be short-term in nature.



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April 08 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch April 7th 2020

Thanks to a subscriber for this report by Allen Brooks for PPHB which may be of interest. Here is a section:

When we look at the company’s costs and expenses per barrel of oil equivalent (BOE), we find they totaled $14.01 for 2019.  Based on the company’s average oil price (which was not adjusted for its gas output given its low price), this translates into a cash profit margin per BOE of $36.88.  If we include the cost of depreciation, depletion and amortization expense (largely a non-cash expense), but indicative of the amount of investment the company needs to make to insure it replaces produced barrels and remains an ongoing enterprise, the cash profit per BOE falls to $19.06, or 37.4% of the average selling price after adjusting for hedging.  That is a pretty attractive return.  

With WTI oil futures prices falling to $20 per barrel, and assuming the location and quality discount remains at $6, Whiting Petroleum was looking at generating no positive cash from the oil it produced.  It also assumes cash operating expenses remain at 2019 levels.  This means Whiting Petroleum would be unable to invest in new exploration and development, which makes the company a self-liquidating entity.  In that condition, the company essentially has no value.  The bankruptcy filing indicates that reality, as current shareholders will only retain 3% of the shares of the reorganized company, as the debt holders will hold 97% in return for agreeing to cancel their bonds.  

Under today’s very depressed oil and gas prices, few producers will be able to fund operations.  If the companies have a significant amount of debt on their balance sheets, they will face serious challenges to sustain their businesses if they do not address their financial leverage.  To understand the precarious health of the producer sector, energy consultant Rystad has prepared a chart showing the debt maturity schedule and annual interest expense for a group of 29 significant producers.  While this represents only 29 producers, we believe it is indicative of the financial condition of the balance of the producer sector.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

The only way the unconventional oil sector is going to make it through the current crisis is to reduce the cost of production. There is no getting around the fact hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling operations are considerably more expensive than conventional drilling. Technological innovation will help improve that spread but it will be impossible to eliminate. Therefore, scale and proximity to end markets are the primary route to reducing costs.



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April 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on renewables

ETFs TAN and FAN: what is your opinion on the quality of the constituents in both products? I do believe going forward this be a huge trend. but how many companies will make it to the other end? thanks very much for educating us in these turbulent times!

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words and this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. The renewables or alternative energy sector was a clear outperformer into the beginning of March but quickly played catch up with the wider market during a panicky period two weeks ago. I believe it is certainly worthwhile to ask whether the factors which contributed to earlier outperformance are still relevant following what are in some cases declines in the order of 50%.



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April 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saudi Will Only Cut Oil Output if Others Do, EA's Sen Says

This article by Laura Hurst for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“It’s very clear that Saudi Arabia is maintaining its position - it will cut only if everyone else cuts,” Energy Aspect’s Amrita Sen says in a Bloomberg TV interview.

Russia does not see benefit in cutting production given the 20m b/d drop in demand “No way” Saudi Arabia can cut enough to compensate for such a decline

NOTE: Sen speaks following U.S. President Donald Trump’s tweet saying he expects Saudi Arabia and Russia to cut production by 10m bbl

There could be a deal later in the year, but it’s too early as it is unclear how low demand will go; “There’s a lot of hope and expectation rather than anything concrete”

Market will correct through market mechanisms; Energy Aspects believes world will run out of storage in May, producers will then have no choice but to shut production, but prices will remain low

It’s unlikely that the U.S. would ever join Russia and Saudi Arabia in coordinated cuts

“How do you get the U.S. to join something that it would call a cartel?”; there are thousands of producers in the U.S., so it would be impossible for the country to cut

Eoin Treacy's view -

The shock from the coronavirus lock down is still rippling through the energy markets but that is not why Saudi Arabia chose now to launch a price war with Russia. They are much more concerned with the fact oil demand growth is slowing down, if not contracting, on a secular basis. That presents singular problems for countries who entire existence is predicated on oil exports.



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March 27 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Enevate's silicon-anode batteries promise ultra-fast EV charging

This article by Loz Blain for New Atlas may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

With some US$111 million in investment from major companies, including LG, Samsung, Mitsubishi, Renault and Nissan, Enevate now says its cells are ready for the big time. In an interview with Charged EVs, Park said Enevate is designing packs for the 2024 and 2025 model years to get its cells into consumer products with major manufacturers. There are no announcements around who or what exactly they're making packs for, but the list of companies above may be instructive.

As far as we're aware, though, the infrastructure to support blast-charging at the kinds of rates we're talking about here simply doesn't yet exist. Tesla's V3 superchargers are currently capable of blast-charging a Model 3 at 250 kilowatts, which would give you around 133 km (83 mi) of range in five minutes.

These batteries would charge three times faster, at around 0.75 megawatts, which is a huge power draw. An alternative method might involve trickle-charging massive supercapacitors all day at slower rates so they've got enough energy to supply the cars super-quickly when they need it, but we're yet to see anything like that in action, and the size of those supercapacitors might end up being prohibitive.

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is almost as if I see a new story about advancements in battery technology every day. They all come with caveats but the one thing we can be sure of is the quantity of capital now devoted to solving the issue of energy density and range anxiety is growing persistently. Producing a doubling of energy density with a low charging time is the hold grail of the sector today and it is reasonable there will be a solution in the market within five years. 



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March 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on where private equity sees opportunity:

Thank you for the excellent commentary received daily! A question for your view - PE industry claims $2trillion "dry powder" available for deployment but can this be LP drawdown commitments which still has to be called & will come from liquidating other investments at current market prices or even defaulting on obligations?

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for your kind words. It is the support of subscribers like you that ensures this service persists.

In the aftermath of the credit crisis Blackstone deployed billions in the US housing market and became one of the biggest residential landlords in the country. That action helped put a floor under the market. They correctly concluded the majority of people would not have the resources to save for a down payment and would instead be renters indefinitely.



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March 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Precious Metals: Navigating uncertain times

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from RBC Capital Markets which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

The Dow/Gold ratio has clearly broken its decade-long uptrend. In the last month it has broken below the 1000-day MA. That’s a monumental event because it has never happened in a secular bull market before. This has been achieved by the gold price going nowhere while the stock market has collapsed by approximately 30%



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March 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Boeing Plans Full Drawdown of $13.825 Billion Loan

This article by Paula Seligson for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Boeing obtained the loan from a group of banks last month to help it deal with its cash burn while it prepares to return its 737 Max plane to the skies. It initially tapped about $7.5 billion of the debt, and is now expected to draw the rest, said the people, asking not to be named discussing private information. Boeing plans to draw the remainder of the loan as a precaution due to market turmoil, one of the people said.

Companies affected by the virus are increasingly turning to banks for short-term financing to provide a safety net. United Airlines Holdings Inc. raised $2 billion in new liquidity with a secured term loan, while Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. recently signed a new $675 million revolver. Should credit conditions worsen, more firms may start to draw down their credit lines, market watchers say. Boeing’s loan came about before Covid-19 spiraled into a global crisis and was expected to be fully drawn eventually.

“They want to have cash on the balance sheet,” said Bloomberg Intelligence’s Matthew Geudtner. The Max grounding, the company’s joint venture with Embraer SA and looming debt maturities will also weigh on Boeing’s cash hoard, he said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The easiest way to determine where the biggest risks reside in this market is to use this metric: Whatever people were worried about in 2019, the coronavirus makes things worse.



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March 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Rosneft Plans to Increase Output as Russia Digs in for Price War

This article by Jack Farchy for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Last week in Vienna, ministers from Russia, Saudi Arabia and other members of the group left a fractious meeting with no deal to continue the cuts beyond April 1. Saudi Arabia heavily discounted its oil over the weekend, triggering a plunge of more than 20% in international crude futures.

Rosneft’s London-listed shares dropped 19.5% on Monday, while markets in Moscow were closed for a public holiday. In a separate statement, Russia’s finance ministry said that the country’s oil-wealth reserves would be sufficient to cover lost revenue “for six to 10 years” at oil prices of $25 to $30 a barrel.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Unconventional oil and gas has been one of the biggest gamechangers for the global economy in history. When the world’s biggest consumer, where production peaked decades ago morphs into the world’s biggest producer and a net exporter it changes the fundamentals and interrelationships of the market.



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March 06 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Covid-19 and Global Dollar Funding

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Zoltan Pozsar and James Sweeney’s report for Credit Suisse on the plumbing of the global financial sector. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

The Credit Suisse team do an excellent job of highlighting where the risks are and provide a handy list of instruments to monitor to get an idea of how liquidity flows are functioning.

The repo market illiquidity in September was a signal to everyone that the tightening program had gone too far. There was nowhere near enough available capital in the system to allow the global money market to function. The Fed stepped in with a large swift injection of liquidity; inflating its balance sheet by $400 billion in four months.



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February 28 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Lead Indicators of Recession

Eoin Treacy's view -

After a week characterised by selling across the board, a great deal of profit taking has taken place and many overextensions relative to the trend mean have been unwound. The question I believe many people will be concerned with is whether the coronavirus is going to be the catalyst for an economic contraction? I thought it would therefore be worth monitoring the kinds of instruments that offer a lead indicator for that kind of concern.



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February 26 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Berkshire Hathaway Inc Shareholder Letter

Thanks to a subcsriber for this letter by Warren Buffett. Here is a section on utilities:

Berkshire Hathaway Energy is now celebrating its 20th year under our ownership. That anniversary suggests that we should be catching up with the company’s accomplishments.

We’ll start with the topic of electricity rates. When Berkshire entered the utility business in 2000, purchasing 76% of BHE, the company’s residential customers in Iowa paid an average of 8.8 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh). Prices for residential customers have since risen less than 1% a year, and we have promised that there will be no base rate price increases through 2028. In contrast, here’s what is happening at the other large investor-owned Iowa utility: Last year, the rates it charged its residential customers were 61% higher than BHE’s. Recently, that utility received a rate increase that will widen the gap to 70%.

The extraordinary differential between our rates and theirs is largely the result of our huge accomplishments in converting wind into electricity. In 2021, we expect BHE’s operation to generate about 25.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity (MWh) in Iowa from wind turbines that it both owns and operates. That output will totally cover the annual needs of its Iowa customers, which run to about 24.6 million MWh. In other words, our utility will have attained wind self-sufficiency in the state of Iowa.

In still another contrast, that other Iowa utility generates less than 10% of its power from wind. Furthermore, we know of no other investor-owned utility, wherever located, that by 2021 will have achieved a position of wind self-sufficiency. In 2000, BHE was serving an agricultural-based economy; today, three of its five largest customers are high-tech giants. I believe their decisions to site plants in Iowa were in part based upon BHE’s ability to deliver renewable, low-cost energy.

Of course, wind is intermittent, and our blades in Iowa turn only part of the time. In certain periods, when the air is still, we look to our non-wind generating capacity to secure the electricity we need. At opposite times, we sell the excess power that wind provides us to other utilities, serving them through what’s called “the grid.” The power we sell them supplants their need for a carbon resource – coal, say, or natural gas.

Berkshire Hathaway now owns 91% of BHE in partnership with Walter Scott, Jr. and Greg Abel. BHE has never paid Berkshire Hathaway a dividend since our purchase and has, as the years have passed, retained $28 billion of earnings. That pattern is an outlier in the world of utilities, whose companies customarily pay big dividends – sometimes reaching, or even exceeding, 80% of earnings. Our view: The more we can invest, the more we like it.

Today, BHE has the operating talent and experience to manage truly huge utility projects – requiring investments of $100 billion or more – that could support infrastructure benefitting our country, our communities and our shareholders. We stand ready, willing and able to take on such opportunities.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I found this to be an enlightening discussion of the utilities sector. The long-held perception is that these kinds of businesses can afford to pay out the majority of free cashflow in dividends because they are charging rents on established pieces of infrastructure with easily forecastable maintenance and renewal trajectories. As Berkshire’s experience with wind demonstrates, this ignores the long-term risk of exogenous shocks, technological innovation, changing regulation and infrastructure reaching the end of its useful life.



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February 25 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Exxon Drops to 15-Year Low Ahead of Annual Strategy Presentation

This article by Kevin Crowley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

 

Exxon Mobil Corp. fell to a 15-year low on Monday amid a broad selloff in equity and commodity markets and just over a week before Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods is scheduled to present the oil explorer’s long-term strategic plan to investors and analysts.

The shares have been under pressure since Exxon disclosed disappointing fourth-quarter results in late January and prospects for a near-term recovery were dimmed by the spreading coronavirus. Excess supplies of natural gas, chemicals and motor fuels also weighed on the oil supermajor.

Exxon fell 4.7% to close at $56.36 on Monday in New York as Brent crude tumbled to about $56 a barrel. The last time the Texas-based driller’s stock traded at this level was the end of 2005, when crude fetched $59.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Exxon Mobil is one of the original cast of S&P500 Dividend Aristocrats. It has been decades since it cut its dividend so investors are looking on eagerly to hear how the company plans to retain a strong position in the global energy market that will allow it to sustain pay outs.



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February 20 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Vanishing Spreads Are Ringing Alarms in Risky Debt Markets

This article from Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“What do you do with your cash?” said Luke Hickmore, investment director at Aberdeen Standard Investments in Edinburgh, where he helps run a number of bond funds. “Leaving it standing there makes no sense and the experience over the last 10 years is that there is no pain in buying bonds. Learnt behavior is that it is safe. Inflation is nowhere and central banks start buying every time yields go higher.”

Heavy demand for tax-exempt income drove yields on even the riskiest municipal bonds to 3.58% on Friday, the lowest since Bloomberg’s records began in 2003. The influx has compressed spreads across the country and caused some debt in high-tax states like California and New York to yield less than top-rated benchmark securities. Municipal mutual funds have reported inflows for the 58th straight week on Feb. 13.

Eoin Treacy's view -

With 30-year debt yielding 1.92% in the USA, 1.59% in Australia, 1.42% in Canada, 1.05% in the UK. 0.36% in Japan and 0.04% in Germany bond investors, and particularly pension funds, are at a loss for where to invest to generate the returns necessary to meet their future liabilities.



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February 12 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

BP Sets Bold Agenda for Big Oil With Plan to Eliminate CO2

This article by Laura Hurst for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

For BP to survive the energy transition in a world that’s gradually falling out of love with oil, it will need to make big investments in new sources of clean energy, ensure cash keeps flowing from its fossil fuel assets, while also funneling generous returns to investors. It’s a tricky balancing act that its closest peer Shell is already struggling to master.

BP’s commitment to do all this while still boosting free cash flow and shareholder returns is “really the key challenge,” said RBC Capital Markets analyst Biraj Borkhataria.

The company announced structural changes alongside its emissions target. Looney will dismantle its upstream and downstream businesses and reorganize them into an entity made up of 11 new teams that will be more integrated and focused.

“For us the statement represents a step change in terms of vision for the company and one that moves the group toward the biggest reorganization and modernization in at least two decades, if not a century,” analysts at Barclays said in a note. “The magnitude and radical nature of this shift should not be underestimated.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The trend of public opinion relating to climate change has put most conventional energy companies in a bind. They have been the subject of vitriol from the green lobby for as long as I can remember but that was manageable when the environment was not an election issue. Today, the situation could not be more different. Wild fires, everywhere, droughts, floods, extinction angst and teenagers lecturing world leaders all point to a very hostile backdrop for oil, gas and coal companies.



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February 11 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Saxo Q1 Outlook: The Great Climate Shift

This press release may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

The long running argument against green energy investing has been that the cost and intermittency of supply do not come close to compensating for the ease of relying on fossil fuels. That meant the sector has long been confined to a high beta position relative to oil prices because it relied on high energy prices to justify investment. The question that now needs to be addressed is whether this valuation model is still relevant?



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February 10 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on rare earth metal miners

Maybe 18 months ago you were looking at Rare Earths outside China. One you mentioned in Australia - Alkane Resources - has recently perked up considerably on gold exploration but also on the likely demerger of its Rare Earths project at Dubbo. I'm a shareholder so noticed(!) You might like to re-visit some time as it is a happy graph for holders

Eoin Treacy's view -

Congratulations on taking the opportunity in Alkane Resources. The company found new gold in September, which was the reason for the initial break higher. Meanwhile the strength over the last couple of days is based on the appointment of a new managing director to the Dubbo project which is a step closer to developing the mine into a commercial reality.



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January 23 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

January 17 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan Chinese electric vehicle joint venture

This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Fiat Chrysler and Foxconn plan Chinese electric vehicle joint venture - This article from Reuters may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

FCA last month reached a binding agreement for a $50 billion tie-up with France’s PSA (PEUP.PA) that will create the world’s No. 4 carmaker. FCA said that the proposed cooperation was initially focused on the Chinese market.

It “would enable the parties to bring together the capabilities of two established global leaders across the spectrum of automobile design, engineering and manufacturing and mobile software technology to focus on the growing battery electric vehicle market,” it said.

FCA said it was in the process of signing a preliminary agreement with Hon Hai, aiming to reach final binding agreements in the next few months.

However, it added there was no assurance that final binding agreements would be reached or would be completed in that timeframe.

Foxconn has been investing heavily in a variety of future transport ventures for several years, including Didi Chuxing, the Chinese ride services giant, and Chinese electric vehicle start-ups Byton and Xpeng.

Foxconn also has invested in Chinese battery giant CATL and a variety of other mostly Chinese transportation tech start-ups.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This is an example of the most profound change batteries are bringing to the automotive sector. They are rapidly commoditizing the car. The difference between an Apple, Samsung or Google phone is less about what is on the inside than familiarity with the brand, ease of operation. software, the app ecosystem and the camera. Other than that, they all have pretty much the same internal composition with some minor differences in the design of the chips while manufacturing is outsourced to a third party.  



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January 09 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fiat Will Effectively Fund Tesla's German Factory, Baird Says

This article by Gabrielle Coppola for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk announced in November that Tesla planned to build a plant outside Berlin. The facility is expected to produce Model 3 sedans and Model Y crossovers starting in 2021.

Fiat Chrysler is going to launch a new version of its Fiat 500 battery-powered vehicle in Europe this year, along with plug-in hybrid versions of its Jeep Compass, Renegade and Wrangler models. That, combined with the Tesla credits, should make the company compliant with Europe’s emissions rules, CEO Mike Manley told analysts in July.

While Fiat Chrysler would otherwise struggle to meet new carbon-dioxide emissions standards in Europe, the so-called open-pool option available in the European Union allows automakers to group their fleets together to meet targets.

Compliance has gotten harder for automakers as consumers have shifted toward gasoline cars, which emit comparatively more CO2, following Volkswagen AG’s diesel-emissions scandal that first erupted in 2015.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Getting your competitors to pay for a factory, which you will then use to produce cars aimed at putting them out of business is a narrative that is so farfetched it would be unlikely to ever pass muster as a movie script. Yet, it is reality in the growth killing market designed by the bureaucrats ruling the EU. Is it any wonder the UK voted to leave?



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January 07 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Sony Shocks CES 2020 With Unveiling of Electric Car

This article by Michael Cogley for the Telegraph may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Tech giant Sony shocked attendees at this year’s CES by unveiling a new electric car.

The Japanese company, which is best known for its PlayStation games consoles and high-end televisions, revealed the Vision S concept saloon.

The prototype boasts 33 sensors to monitor inside and outside of the car, as well as an ultra-wide monitor which will be used for entertainment and information purposes.

Sony chief executive Kenichiro Yoshida said that cars will be redefined as a “new entertainment space”.

“To deepen our understanding of cars in terms of their design and technologies we gave a shape to our vision,” Mr Yoshida told the tech conference in Las Vegas.

“This prototype embodies our commitment to the future of mobility and contains an array of Sony technologies.”

The new concept car also features “360 reality audio”, which Mr Yoshida says will give users an “immersive experience”.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Consumer Electronics Show is where companies go to showcase their most aspirational vision of what they hope to bring to market in coming years. Electric cars started popping up a few years ago but this year electric vehicles dominated the product line. Sony, Mercedes Benz and Fisker debuted electric vehicles, with the latter production ready.



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January 03 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

U.S. Strike Ordered by Trump Kills Key Iranian Military Leader in Baghdad

This article from the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi condemned the targeted killing as a violation of the terms underpinning the U.S. troop presence in the country.

Mr. Abdul-Mahdi said he had submitted a formal request for parliament to convene in order to adopt necessary measures “to protect Iraq’s dignity and sovereignty.” He didn’t say what those measures would be.

The killing of the two men is likely to mark the beginning of a dangerous new chapter in the rivalry between the U.S. and Iran, which escalated after supporters of an Iran-backed Shiite militia attempted to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad earlier this week. Mr. Mohandes was deputy leader of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group that led the embassy attack.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Anyway we look at it, the geopolitical risk premium just racketed up. Iran’s response to losing the commander of the Revolutionary Guard can be expected to be bloody and will probably splash around the entire region considering how broad Iran’s terrorist network is.



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January 02 2020

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oilfield Services Ends 2019 With a Bang, Whimper

This article by Liam Denning for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“When does it end?” is a perfectly reasonable question for New Year’s Eve. And in the case of anyone still holding onto oilfield services stocks, it is more than rhetorical.

Core Laboratories NV, which offers services to enhance output from oilfields, dropped the ball early on Monday evening, or New Year’s Eve Eve if you will. It cut guidance for the quarter just about to end, issued underwhelming guidance for the quarter about to begin and, to cap it off, slashed its dividend by more than half. The latter was declared “sacrosanct” by management only two months ago — which, in hindsight, is one of those overwrought words that should set alarm bells ringing.

Throw in Tuesday’s pre-drinking trading volumes, and the stock looks set to see out 2019 with a bang (not the good kind). The ostensible reason for the sudden about-face is sluggish activity in international markets, which were hoped to offset the drag from the slowdown in U.S. fracking. The underlying reason is one that blends the oil business with New Year’s Eve seamlessly: the triumph of hope over experience.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The demise of the drilling sector is reflective of the high cost of production from offshore reserves relative to onshore unconventional sources. That has contributed to acute rationalisation of the sector and contraction in prices for services provided. Seadrill for example declared bankruptcy and only exited that condition in 2018. Meanwhile McDermott International remains in what could be a terminal downtrend. The question for investors is whether the contraction of the wider sector has run its course?



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December 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chevron, Facing Fossil Fuels Glut, Takes $10 Billion Charge

This article by Christopher M. Matthews and Rebecca Elliott for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We have to make the tough choices to high-grade our portfolio and invest in the highest-return projects in the world we see ahead of us, and that’s a different world than the one that lies behind us,” Mr. Wirth said.

Chevron’s shares closed up less than a percentage point at $117.90 prior to the announcement Tuesday. Reaction to the news was muted in after-hours trading.

The sobering reappraisal by Chevron, one of the world’s largest and best-performing oil companies, is likely to ripple through the oil-and-gas industry, forcing others to publicly reassess the value of their holdings in the face of a global supply glut and growing investor concerns about the long-term future of fossil fuels. Particular pressure is falling on shale producers, especially those focused on natural gas in places like Pennsylvania, which are struggling with historically low U.S. prices caused by oversupply.

Chevron’s move follows a $5 billion write-down by Spain’s Repsol SA earlier this month and an impairment of $2.6 billion by the U.K.’s BP PLC in October. Industry executives and analysts anticipate that many more oil-and-gas companies will soon write down billions in value to comply with accounting standards because low commodity prices have undermined the economics of many projects.

Eoin Treacy's view -

In last night’s audio I was searching for the term high grading when discussing the performance of mining companies but it of course also extends to any commodity market where prices have declined to such an extent that many sources of supply become uneconomic.



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December 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Surges After Saudis Surprise Market With Additional

This article by Sheela Tobben and Alex Longley for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The additional supply reduction would take the kingdom’s production down to levels not seen on a sustained basis since 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

After the announcement, Prince Abdulaziz predicted that Saudi Aramco, which just completed an IPO at a valuation of $1.7 trillion, would soon soar above the $2 trillion. The kingdom plans to pump 9.7 million barrels a day, he said. That’s a reduction of about 300,000 barrels a day from its output in November and 100,000 below the year-to-date average, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There was always a risk that Saudi Arabia would attempt to massage energy prices in order to get the valuation for Saudi Aramco they desired. The IPO priced yesterday at $1.7 trillion which will represent a $25 billion windfall for the kingdom. If the price pops on the upside following the IPO that will give a windfall to the large numbers of domestic investors, many connected to the ruling class, who invested in the IPO. That is obviously a desirable outcome from a domestic perspective for Saudi Arabia.



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December 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Europe Set to Overhaul Its Entire Economy in Green Deal Push

This article by Ewa Krukowska and Nikos Chrysoloras for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The EU plan, set to be approved as the high-profile United Nations summit in Madrid winds up, would put the bloc ahead of other major emitters. Countries including China, India and Japan have yet to translate voluntary pledges under the 2015 Paris climate accord into binding national measures. U.S. President Donald Trump has said he’ll pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement.

In a pitch of her Green Deal to member states and the European Parliament on Dec. 11, von der Leyen is set to promise a set of measures to reach the net-zero emissions target, affecting sectors from agriculture to energy production. It will include a thorough analysis on how to toughen the current 40% goal to reduce emissions by 2030 to 50% or even 55%, according to an EU document obtained by Bloomberg News.

Make It Irreversible
In the next step, the commission will propose an EU law in March that would “make the transition to climate neutrality irreversible,” von der Leyen told the UN meeting. She said the measure will include “a farm-to-fork strategy and a biodiversity strategy” and will extend the scope of emissions trading.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The EU’s political elite view the climate argument as a voter winner, a source of revenue for their constrained social services and an additional control on the economy that would be impossible under normal circumstances. It is also a response to the fact the region is a major energy consumer and has long had to deal with regimes it is politically at odds with because of its dependence on imports of energy commodities.



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November 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Biggest LNG Producer Targets 64% Jump in Capacity by 2027

This article by Simone Foxman and Verity Ratcliffe for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:
 

Qatar’s plan for a 64% increase in LNG capacity is likely to intensify a global glut in the fuel. The nation is seeking to fend off competition from rival producers such as Australia and the U.S. that have ramped up production and eroded the Gulf state’s historic dominance of the market. Australia has exported about 70 million tons of LNG this year, compared with 71.9 million for Qatar, according to vessel-tracking data compiled by Bloomberg.

The North Field holds more than 1,760 trillion cubic feet of gas, and state-run Qatar Petroleum will “immediately” start engineering work for two additional LNG production plants, or trains, for a combined capacity of 16 million tons annually, Al Kaabi said in a statement. Qatar will be able to produce about 6.7 million barrels of oil equivalent a day by 2027, said Al Kaabi, who also serves as QP’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The quantities of natural gas that can be brought to market, almost at will, are nothing short of astounding and suggest a price war is inevitable. With Australia now producing almost as much gas as Qatar and the USA exporting the bounty from shale wells the global market for gas is likely to continue to grow.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aramco Failure to Win Foreign Money Makes IPO Local Event

This article by Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section: 

Most of the money is likely to be raised from domestic rather than foreign investors. This means that the proceeds won’t be a fresh inflow of foreign capital but an internal transfer from Saudi households and corporates to the government. --Ziad Daoud, Chief Middle East Economist for Bloomberg Economics

So poor is the international appetite for the deal, even at the lower valuation, Saudi Aramco decided at the last minute against marketing the IPO in the U.S., Canada and Japan -- three markets traditionally seen as a must-go destination for any big Wall Street deal. Instead of the planned approach to American investors, using what lawyers and bankers know as the 144A rule of the U.S. Securities Act, Aramco decided on Sunday the tepid interest meant it wasn’t worth the trouble.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Russian and Chinese assets always appear at the top of value screens when sorting for value on a global scale. However, that ignores the geopolitical risk of investing in those areas. The same might now also be true of the Saudi Aramco IPO. The attack on Saudi Aramco’s infrastructure served to highlight how exposed it is to damage from conflict and that alone was probably enough to compress the valuation and deter interest ahead of the IPO.



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November 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Ford Unveils Electric Mustang SUV to Challenge Tesla Dominance

This article by Keith Naughton for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The Mach-E will make a profit “on vehicle one,” he said in a Bloomberg TV interview. “That’s surprising a lot of people because electrics have not had a history of making money. This will.”

Hackett said it will turn a profit because the vehicle “creates the passion that follows with Mustang” and prices start in the mid-$30,000 when U.S. subsides on electric cars are factored in. “So it’s attractive to customers.”

Ford is building it in Mexico because it had an open factory there and it needed to be overhauled to build an electric vehicle, Hackett said. “As we start to adopt more electric vehicles — we had capacity down there, we had no capacity in the United States — we’re going to have electric capacity here in the United States. They’ll be building other electric platforms.”

Still, it’s a high-risk gambit. The Mustang is Ford’s signature sports car, having sold more than 10 million units since it debuted in 1964 with simultaneous cover stories in Time and Newsweek. When Ford decided to abandon the traditional passenger-car business last year, it spared only one model: The Mustang.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Sports cars, pickups and SUVs represent the high margin portions of the auto industry. Many traditional manufacturers are racing to get electric SUVs and sedans into the market to compete with Tesla. Today’s Ford announcement is obviously aimed at competing with the Model 3, while Tesla’s debut for its pick-up, on Thursday, is aimed at competing with the F-150. The disruption in the auto sector is forcing massive investment in new manufacturing capacity and not all will survive. From listening to what Jim Hackett had to say about profitability, it sounds there is some creative accounting in making the claim the electric Mustang will be profitable on car one.



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November 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The next 6 months favor Cyclicals: Financials, Energy, Industrials, Tech, Materials

Thanks to a subscriber for this chart illustrated report by Barry Bannister for Stifel which may be of interest.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

I have some sympathy with the view that when everyone is short, the risk of a short covering rally greatly increases. That’s particularly true if Saudi Arabia succeeds in encouraging OPEC to further reduce supply to bolster the valuation of Saudi Aramco ahead of the IPO.



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November 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What's Happening to US Shale Production?

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Geohring & Rozencwajg. Here is a section:

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The unconventional revolution in oil and gas production took off, the most promising locations were drilled first. The challenge from the beginning with unconventional wells is their prolific initial production followed soon after by an early peak production profile. That requires constant drilling to sustain production growth. If you stop drilling the peaking of existing wells catches up and production falls.



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November 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Chesapeake's Covenants Could Pinch in 2020

This article by Allison McNeely may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

The company warned there is doubt about its ability to continue operating. Its shares and bonds have plunged since reporting earnings Nov. 5.

*Based on price assumptions of $55 per barrel for oil and $2.50 per million British thermal units for natural gas as well as no debt reduction, Chesapeake is likely to trip its leverage covenant by the third quarter of next year, if not sooner, CreditSights analysts Jake Leiby and Michael Mistras wrote in
the report.

**They predict Chesapeake will have a free cash flow shortfall of about $50 million in 2020 and finish the year with gross leverage of 4.6 times debt to a measure of earnings, above the 4.25 ratio in its covenant.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Chesapeake dropped significantly over the last couple of days and is now dependent on the kindness of strangers to ease debt covenants if it is to survive. The problem for the company is it is not viable at a shale industry average of $55. Its breakeven might be closer to $70. Meanwhile natural gas prices remain volatile, even after the rebound over the last week which took the price back above $2.50.
 



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November 06 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Brazil's Oil Flop a Warning for Majors and Aramco

This article by Liam Denning for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Offshore oil investment was all the rage among Big Oil during the supercycle, with capital expenditure almost quadrupling in the decade up to 2014. That is the problem. The majors poured money into large, multi-year projects prone to delays and, because of their often bespoke engineering, spiraling budgets. The result: tumbling return on capital and an inability to dial back investment quickly when the oil crash hit in 2014. Roughly 3,000 new offshore projects sanctioned between 2010 and 2014 have either barely generated any value for oil companies or are expected to generate none at all, according to a recent study published by Rystad Energy, a consultancy:

More recent investments score better, mostly because the boom tailed off, with offshore capex falling by more than half between 2014 and 2018. That took the heat out of industry inflation; and, because of the bonfire of returns in the prior decade, oil majors got smarter about such things as standardizing offshore equipment design to cut costs and shorten schedules. The pace of new projects has picked up again after the slump. Exxon, for example, has effectively opened up an entire new offshore zone with its Guyanese fields.

Still, one look at the stock prices of oilfield services firms, especially offshore-focused types such as Transocean Ltd. and Noble Corp. Plc, tells you this investment wave is nothing like the tsunami of yesteryear. Bad memories combined with unease about both near- and long-term oil demand make bold bets on big, multi-year offshore projects a tough sell with investors more interested in payouts. Even Exxon’s success in Guyana gets overshadowed by the fact that the company’s capex bill leaves it borrowing to pay its dividend. And Exxon, like Chevron Corp. and other majors, has swung more of its spending toward shorter-cycle onshore fracking in North America.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Secular bull markets in commodities are defined by a step change in the marginal cost of production. During periods of what can best be described as a status quo the price of oil can range for decades. That reduces investment in new supply and the sector is unable to respond quickly when a new source of demand emerges. The massive investment to bring new supply to market takes time to evolve and that creates a secular bull market as new higher cost sources are brought online. 



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October 31 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell Shares Continue Slide After Tense Call With Analysts

This article by Kelly Gilblom and Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

At one point, van Beurden quipped that the buyback program would be cheaper now because the shares were falling, which invited a terse response from an analyst who said: “I agree.”
“Please help me with my confused state,” said Christopher Kuplent, an analyst at Bank of America Corp., before asking the penultimate question on the call about whether they are
disclosing information in the right way.

Van Beurden responded that they could have avoided the cautionary note about the buybacks completely. He said that people could have done the math that lower oil prices make life more financially challenging for Shell, however, he said it was better to acknowledge a likely stormy year ahead to the market.

Then he offered another mind-bending answer as shares slipped further. “That macro does actually have an effect on our cash flow is obviously a statement of the obvious. So we could also have said: ‘Well that’s hopefully all understood isn’t it?”’ he added. “But not making a statement of the obvious it is also making a statement.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

When CEOs are candid and state the obvious it tends to have unintended consequences. Royal Dutch Shell’s management just told the market they may not have the money to buy back as many shares next year because oil prices are low and are likely to stay that way for the next 12 months. That’s not exactly what investors were expecting to hear.



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October 30 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Fed Cuts Rates by Quarter Point, Hints It May Be Done for Now

This article by Christopher Condon for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Federal Reserve officials reduced interest rates by a quarter-percentage point for the third time this year and hinted they may be done loosening monetary policy, at least for one meeting.

The Federal Open Market Committee altered language in its statement following the two-day meeting Wednesday, dropping its pledge to “act as appropriate to sustain the expansion,” while adding a promise to monitor data as it “assesses the appropriate path of the target range for the federal funds rate.”

As with the September statement, the FOMC cited the implications of global developments in deciding to lower the target range for the central bank’s benchmark rate to 1.5% to 1.75%.

Treasuries weakened on the Fed’s announcement, pushing the 10-year yield up briefly to 1.81% from 1.80%. Stocks were little changed and the U.S. dollar gained. Traders also pared wagers on a fourth consecutive rate cut in December.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Fed has been of the opinion we are in the midst of a mid-cycle slowdown. I think we can think of that as a best-case scenario which is why there is so much uncertainty about the outlook for rates amid the surge in bond prices. Let’s see what the charts tell us.



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October 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Shipping Costs Soar to Highest Levels in 11 Years

This article by Costas Paris for the Wall Street Journal may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“There is a lot of confusion and uncertainty out there,” said Paolo d’Amico, head of Intertanko, a trade body representing tanker owners. “Everyone is afraid of being hit by the U.S., sanctions, rendering about 50 VLCCs untouchable.”

U.S. oil exports to Europe, which usually move in smaller tankers, hit a record 1.8 million barrels a day for the week ending Oct. 7, according to Kpler, an energy market intelligence company. The figure is double the 924,000 barrels in the previous week. But shipments to Asia, which are typically done on VLCCs, were reduced almost in half to 508,000 barrels.

A Singapore broker said rates for some VLCC cargoes on sailings from the U.S. Gulf Coast to the Far East were more than $120,000 on Thursday. Average earnings for supertankers picking up cargoes from around the world hit $94,124 a day, up from $18,284 on Sept. 25, when Washington blacklisted the Cosco fleet.

“VLCCs to Asia are a rare commodity, the market is red hot and will stay that way while the U.S. sanctions on Cosco ships are in place,” said the broker, who asked not to be named because he isn’t authorized to talk to the media.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index broke out on the upside last week, to trade above 1500 for the first time since 2008. That follows the breakout in the Baltic Dry Index in August. The latter’s move has not been as pronounced but does highlight the additional pressure on the shipping sector from the impending implementation of the IMO2020 rules on ship emissions.



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October 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Midcap British Stocks Soar On Move Toward Brexit Talks

This article by Steve Goldstein for MarketWatch may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

The midcap FTSE 250 rose 3.5%, its best single-day percentage gain in more than three years, as European leaders indicated there was progress toward reaching an agreed deal with the U.K. on leaving the European Union. The European Union says it has agreed with the United Kingdom to "intensify" Brexit negotiations in a belated attempt to reach a divorce deal ahead of Oct. 31. A number of FTSE 250 components sported double-digit gains, including bank CYBG, building materials distributor Grafton Group and home improvement retailer Travis Perkins. The FTSE 100 however saw much smaller gains, of just 0.7%, because many of those components record revenue in dollars.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The Pound has staged one its largest two-day rallies in years and that is pressuring the shares of companies that rely on overseas earnings. The divergence in performance between the FTSE-100 and the FTSE-250 highlights the benefit to domestically oriented companies from a resolution of the Brexit conundrum.



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October 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Melting Ice Redraws the World Map and Starts a Power Struggle

This article by Marc Champion for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Shawn Bennett, deputy assistant secretary for oil and natural gas at the Department of Energy, said the U.S. was not concerned about competition. Growth projections for natural gas demand in India and other Asian countries are so high, and the need for supply diversification in Europe so acute that there’s little risk of a glut, he told Bloomberg. “Global demand for LNG is just going to grow,” he said.

The U.S. may be pushing back in more concrete ways. On September 30, the Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on units of China’s Cosco Shipping Corp., over alleged breaches of U.S. sanctions against Iran. The move immediately hit the Yamal project’s LNG tanker routes because of Cosco’s share in one of the main shipping companies involved.

Still, for those who have been working in the Arctic for a long time, much of the geopolitical discussion sounds a little breathless. Last year, Russia’s Northern Sea Route carried 29 million tons of cargo, with projections rising to 90 million. The Suez Canal carries about 1 billion tons.

Eoin Treacy's view -

David and I predicted more than a decade ago that the USA would become energy independent that that represented a gamechanger for the energy sector that was completely underappreciated by markets. This chart suggests that reality, long promised, is now upon us.



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October 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Bond Market is the Biggest Bubble of our Lifetime

Thanks to a subscriber for this interview of Louis-Vincent Gave which appeared in themarket.ch. Here is a section:

On a global level, bonds with a value of about $15 trillion currently trade with a negative yield. What’s going on here?

For every investor today, the starting point must be the bond market. Just a few weeks ago, we had $17 trillion of negative yielding debt. We’re now down to about 15, but even that is way too much. This is investment money that is guaranteed to produce a loss of capital. These extreme levels in today’s bond market can only have three possible explanations. One, the world faces an economic meltdown of epic proportions. Two, the bond market is the biggest bubble we have ever witnessed, and three, we have just experienced a massive buying panic in bonds.

Eoin Treacy's view -

I agree with all three of these points so we then need to address the question of what will happen to deflate the bubble. The answer is inflation which is like kryptonite for the bond market. The only way anyone can justify buying bonds with a negative yield is if they believe the deflationary argument is self-fulfilling. 



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September 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Aramco Said to Face Weeks Without Majority of Abqaiq Output

This article by Anthony DiPaola, Will Kennedy and Javier Blas for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is in full:

Saudi Aramco faces weeks or months before the majority of supply from the giant Abqaiq plant is restored after this weekend’s devastating aerial attack, according to people familiar with matter.

Aramco is still assessing the state of the plant and the scope of repairs, but the state oil company currently believes less than half of the the plant’s capacity can be restored quickly, the people said, asking not to be identified before an official announcement. It’s a more pessimistic outlook than Aramco had immediately after the incident, they said.

All eyes are on how fast the kingdom can recover from the weekend’s devastating strike, which knocked out roughly 5% of global supply and triggered a record surge in oil prices. The loss of Abqaiq, which handles 5.7 million barrels of oil a day, or about half of Saudi production, is the single worst sudden disruption to the oil market.

Aramco, the world’s largest exporter, is currently supplying customers from its stockpiles, but is asking some buyers to accept different grades. President Trump has said he’s ready to release oil from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ensure ample supply.

Saudi Arabia is also starting idle offshore fields to replace some of the lost production.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Let’s lay out the questions. The first is just how much geopolitical risk is present and has that been under appreciated by markets? The second is the Khurais field is about equidistant from the border with Iraq and Yemen so how did these drones penetrate air space without being intercepted. The third is what is likely to do well as a result of these events?



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September 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Factors or Fundamentals, Quant Tremor Is Field Day for the Geeks

This article by Sarah Ponczek and Vildana Hajric for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

You wouldn’t know it from benchmarks, but beneath a tranquil surface violent swings are lashing traders along obscure fault lines. Companies like real-estate firms that rose the most in 2019 are plunging, and some that have trailed are being pushed out front. It’s been a mild reckoning for hedge funds and others who have bet on the status quo persisting.

Amid all the churn has been a renewed focus on a quantitative concept known as factor investing, which groups companies not by industry but traits such as how fast their prices move or profits rise. A question gaining currency in the past few days is whether these categories are just handy descriptions of twists in the market -- or are at some level guiding them.

“It seems very mechanical right now,” said John Swarr, investment specialist at Penn Mutual Asset Management, which has $27 billion under management. “If you look within some of these stocks that are being hit the hardest, some are in much better shape than others and yet they’re all being affected similarly,” he said. “It does feel like it’s a rules-based rotation.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The total of negative yields bonds was at $17 trillion for a brief time at the end of August and has since contracted to $14.3 trillion. That’s a big more in a little less than two weeks.

The failure of the German government to sell a full allocation of bonds and failed auctions at the US Treasury in August were probably the catalysts for sapping investor demand for bonds globally. The unwinding of leveraged long positions now has the scope for meaningfully move bond yields higher with clear upward dynamics evident across multiple markets.



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September 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Is an inflation resurgence credible?

Eoin Treacy's view -

At the end of last year, a return of inflation was assumed to be inevitable with the 10-year Treasury yield trading comfortably above 3%, commodity prices recovering, wages marching higher, full employment and high capacity utilisation. The perspective could not be more different today.

Interminable deflation has been priced in to Treasury yields as they test the lows of the last eight years. Commodity prices are under pressure, the trade war has resulted in a number of export dependent nations flirting with recessions, purchasing managers indices suggest contracting manufacturing activity and an inverted yield curve has started the clock on the next recession. Meanwhile gold has exploded on the upside to complete a six-year base formation.



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August 28 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Homeowners are sitting on a record amount of cash, but they're not really tapping it

This article by Dina Olick for CNBC may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

So-called tappable equity grew by more than $335 billion during the quarter. The total is 26% more than the mid-2006 peak of $5 trillion. Roughly 45 million mortgage holders have excess equity, and half of them have mortgage rates higher than 4.25%, making a refinance not only possible but attractive. The average rate on the 30-year fixed is now around 3.6%. The majority of these borrowers also have top credit scores.

Falling mortgage rates over the past several months have caused a surge in overall refinance activity, but despite the record housing wealth, homeowners have been highly conservative about taking cash out. In 2006, 89% of refinances were cash-out, according to Freddie Mac. In 2012, when home prices crashed, that share dropped to 12%. But even now, with prices back above their previous peak and mortgage rates much lower, cash-out refinances are just 61% of the total pool of refinances.

“I think you’re seeing a little bit of reluctance both on the side of lenders and on the side of borrowers,” said Andy Walden, director of market research at Black Knight. “If you look at lending, guidelines are a little bit tighter than they were back in 2006, but even given those lending restrictions, I think you’re seeing more conservative behavior on behalf of homeowners as well, as folks have the remembrance of the financial crisis in the rearview mirror.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

I was at an end-of-summer party on Saturday night and conversation turned to mortgage refinancing. About half of the people I was talking with had used low rates over the last 18 months to refinance at about 3.5% while the rest had not done so yet. Mortgage rates have done a round trip from 3.5% to 5% and back again over the last year and there is still scope for the rate to move lower. That is going to put additional cash in the pockets of the people most likely to invest in the stock market.



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August 27 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

OPEC+ Expects to Drain Oil Stocks as It Makes Supersized Cut

This article by Grant Smith for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

In response, the Saudis have reduced output by far more than pledged under the terms of the deal, and the coalition’s overall implementation rate last month was 59% above target, according to a statement posted on its website on Tuesday. That means the alliance cut supplies by about 1.9 million barrels a day.

OPEC signaled that the deeper-than-anticipated cutbacks had been necessary because of the extreme upheaval in the global economy.

“This high level of overall conformity has offset uncertainty in the market due to ongoing economic-growth worries,” according to the statement from the Joint Ministerial Monitoring Committee, a body set up by OPEC and its allies to oversee implementation of their strategy.

“Along with healthy oil demand,” the supply restraints have “arrested global oil-inventories growth and should lead to significant draws in the second half of the year,” the committee said.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Brent Crude is flirting with $60 and WTI is testing the $55 area. OPEC and Russia need a higher price to meet their domestic obligations. Meanwhile shale producers need a higher price to justify continued drilling and to help meet their debt obligations. That suggests the $50 area for WTI is a big level for the US domestic onshore sector because they cannot justify supply growth below that level. Despite this competition between OPEC and the Permian oil is trading in backwardation out to two-year maturities.



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August 23 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Powell Says Economy in Favorable Place, Faces Significant Risks

This article by Craig Torres and Rich Miller for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“Trade policy uncertainty seems to be playing a role in the global slowdown and in weak manufacturing and capital spending in the United States,” Powell said in the text of his remarks Friday to central bankers gathered at the Kansas City Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. “We will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion, with a strong labor market and inflation near its symmetric 2% objective.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

It is looking like the learning curve for a newly installed Fed chair is about 18 months. Today’s measured statement from Jerome Powell did an excellent job of placating investor fears while leaving open the optionality of how much to cut by. The Fed has made clear they will cut rates if they need to but will not hurry. However, the simultaneous announcement by China that they are increasing tariffs on $75 billion of US goods is likely to be prove the catalyst for deeper cuts.



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August 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From the Oil Patch August 13th 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever-interesting report for PPHB. Here is a section:

Today’s energy world is nothing like what it was prior to OPEC’s move.  It is even moving away from the model that evolved immediately after the price collapse.  Both of those models have been shunned by investors.  A new model is evolving in response to investor demands that energy companies be profitable and return cash to investors.  This new model is evolving in response to the disconnect between energy company fundamentals and their share prices.  That disconnect is evident in Exhibit 8, which tracks oil prices and stock indexes reflecting oil and oil service companies since mid-2014 when oil prices began sliding, before OPEC delivered its coup de grâce.  Oil company stocks (XLE) performed better during this period, largely because they pay dividends, offering investors income while waiting for share values to reflect higher oil prices.  Oil service stocks (OSX) fell steadily in this period, because of too much debt and shrinking market activity leading to substantial asset impairment and eroding company values.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area. 

If we are indeed now in a period where energy investors are more demanding of profits than production growth that is not great news for the fragmented nature of the shale oil sector. That suggests there is significant scope for consolidation to provide the profitability demanded by investors.



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August 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Mysterious radiation leak, 100x larger than Fukushima disaster, traced to Russian facility

This article from the Bigthink.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

"Today most of these European networks are connected to each other via the informal 'Ring of Five' (Ro5) platform for the purpose of rapid exchange of expert information on a laboratory level about airborne radionuclides detected at trace levels," it says. "In October 2017, an unprecedented release of ruthenium-106 into the atmosphere was the subject of numerous detections and exchanges within the Ro5."

State-owned Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom denied the findings of the recent study.

"We maintain that there have been no reportable events at any Rosatom-operated plants or facilities," Rosatom said. "Both the national regulator and experts from an independent international inquiry inspected the Mayak facility back in 2017 and found nothing to suggest that the ruthenium-106 isotope originated from this site, nor found any traces of an alleged accident, nor found any evidence of local staff exposure to elevated levels of radioactivity."

Eoin Treacy's view -

This kind of headline, regardless of whether it originally occurred in 2017 is bad news for uranium miners. We can make the case for the viability of next generation reactors until we are blue in the face, but one headline grabbing accident kills any progress make in rehabilitating perceptions.



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August 09 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on European energy prices

This is by Benny Peiser who is the director of the GWPF. Some bold warnings about Europe's decline fuelled by its high energy prices.

 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Outsized economic growth and the higher standards of living it delivers is the single best way of creating concern for lower emissions, a cleaner environment and creating greater efficiencies. We have plenty of empirical evidence that this is the case and yet it is still a hard sell for many politicians. The concentration of the argument on climate change is probably at the root of this problem. Instead we should be thinking about improving the human condition not as the problem but as the solution.



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August 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Bridgewater's Ray Dalio Discusses the Impact of China's Growth on the World Economy

This is a fascinating interview where Ray Dalio discusses the merits of betting on China.

Eoin Treacy's view -

There are two very big questions we have to answer which are fundamental to the construction of a long-term portfolio. The first is does governance really mean anything? The second is how do you value private assets in a portfolio?
 
At this service we have long held that governance is everything. Is that still true? Ray Dalio appears to be agnostic on whether property rights, respect for minority shareholder interests, an independent judiciary and a free press are important. What I personally find particularly interesting is that the performance of China’s stock market, during the decade where it has achieved the heights of its ambition has been dismal.



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August 08 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

As Shale Drillers Stumble, Big Oil Says It Can Do Permian Better

This article by Rachel Adams-Heard for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Concho Resources Inc., long considered one of the Permian’s premier operators, was forced to scale back activity after drilling almost two dozen wells too closely together. That move by the Midland, Texas-based producer spooked investors across the industry, with Evercore ISI predicting the “carnage” would have a lasting impact.

Concho’s problem with well spacing highlights the challenges of fracking so-called child wells: Too close to the “parent,” and output is less prolific; too far apart, and companies risk leaving oil in the ground.

Exxon and Chevron say they aren’t as exposed to those problems. Because of their size relative to smaller independent producers, the oil giants are able to lock up acreage, giving them room to be more conservative in their well spacing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The lower for longer nature of oil pricing over the last few years and probably for the foreseeable future suggests smaller independent oil drillers and producers need to concentrate a lot more on containing costs. That suggests there is scope for consolidation within the Permian where the larger better capitalised companies are likely to have an advantage.



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August 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Tesla's big battery in South Australia is a "complete waste of resources," claims Nissan

This article by Simon Alvarez for Teslarati.com may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Thomas’ statement comes as he was discussing the new Leaf’s vehicle-to-grid/vehicle-to-home (V2G/V2H) system, which will allow the all-electric car to serve as a home battery unit. With the system in place, the Leaf will not only store energy by plugging into a home or business; the vehicle could also serve the energy back when needed. V2H is already in use in countries such as Japan, and a release in Australia is expected within six months. 

The Nissan executive noted that the Leaf’s V2G system has the potential to help homeowners save money, especially if the vehicle charges through a rooftop solar system during the day, and uses its stored energy to power appliances and lights at night. 

“The way we distribute and consume energy is fundamentally inefficient … what we need is flexibility in the system. It’s great that we’ve invested all this money in renewable energy, but fundamentally we’re wasting most of that energy because it’s all being generated in the middle of the day when we don’t really need it,” he said. 

Tim Washington, CEO of charging solutions provider Jetcharge, noted that Nissan V2H technology has a lot of potential, considering that vehicles spend much of their time just parked, or in the case of electric cars, plugged in. 

Eoin Treacy's view -

Tesla has battery manufacturing capacity so it produces batteries. Nissan produces cars so it is pushing a use case for cars to provide base load during periods of peak consumption.



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August 05 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Top Miners Are Split on How to Chase the EV Battery Boom

This article by David Stringer for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We did a review of all the battery input materials -- nickel, cobalt, lithium,” said Eduard Haegel, asset president at the BHP’s Nickel West unit. “We think that in the medium-to-longer term there will be a margin that will be sticky for nickel -- we think it’s an attractive commodity.”

BHP, the biggest miner, this year reversed long-term efforts to seek a buyer for the division, opting to retain Nickel West to benefit from forecast growth in lithium-ion batteries and a scarcity of high-quality nickel supply. From the second quarter of 2020, the unit will begin production of bright-turquoise colored nickel sulphate -- a premium raw material for the battery supply chain -- from a nickel refinery south of Perth, with plans to potentially carry out the industry’s largest expansion.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Every auto manufacturer is going to have electric vehicle offerings in the next 18 months. That is going to create a lot of demand for batteries and the commodities that comprise the anode, cathode, catalysts and electrolyte.



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July 25 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Evaluating US Nuclear Competitiveness and its Future as a Carbon-Free Clean Energy Source

Thanks to a Keith Rabin for this interview of Dr.Robert F.Ichord. Here is a section:

Both Russia and China are strongly committed to domestic nuclear development, international nuclear power exports, and the development of small modular reactors (SMR) and advanced nuclear reactors. Russia is building seven third–generation VVER–1200 reactors domestically and over twenty internationally. China is building domestically about eleven indigenous units, not including the Russia VVERs, the French EPRs or the recently completed US AP–1000s. They have two reactors of the Hualong One design under construction in Pakistan near Karachi and one planned at Chasma, the site of older, smaller Chinese reactors. They are also pursuing deals in the UK, Romania and Argentina as well as Bulgaria and several other countries. These strong state–financed commitments create the domestic and industrial capabilities needed for future innovation as well as to establish long–term political and economic relationships with countries of strategic interest. US historical influence over international standards and regulatory system development is therefore being challenged as well as US overall foreign policy interests in democracy and open markets. South Korean and Japanese companies are also international competitors but remain long–time US collaborators.

According to the World Nuclear Association about 30 countries are considering, planning or starting nuclear power programs. These range from sophisticated economies to developing nations. Is nuclear a viable option for emerging and frontier economies and how does installation and utilization differ in these locations from developed economies in terms of safety, non–proliferation as well as political stability, environmental and regulatory standards, supporting infrastructure and other factors?

I believe there is a major shift occurring in the global nuclear industry from the industrial countries to the non–OECD countries. Most of future global electricity growth will be in these countries and they want to diversify and develop cleaner energy systems. Despite the huge upfront costs, countries are deciding to accept attractive Russian and Chinese financing for these large, multi–billion dollar units. There is the national pride involved from joining the “nuclear club' as well as possible corruption in certain cases. Russia also offers military equipment as well as full fuel and operating services in its strategy to expand influence. Although both Russia and China have significant training efforts to develop local capacities, overall governance and transparency in a number of these countries is weak and the commitment to competent Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)–like regulatory institutions is questionable. Although most of the countries have signed the Non–Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, the introduction of current nuclear power technologies in countries and regions – in which there are significant tensions and political conflicts, e.g. Middle East – raises serious concerns for US foreign policy.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The mining investment cycle of the early part of this century delivered on additional supply capacity. While the building plans for new reactors are impressive, they have been slowed by the Fukushima disaster and competition from other energy sources. That has resulted in quite a bit of volatility for uranium miners.



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July 22 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on climate change from Dr. David Brown:

I am impressed by your bravery in questioning much that appears in the media about 'climate change'. I am sure the climate is changing, as it is still warming from the last ice age, but that is a natural cycle. As a dyed-in-the-wool scientist, trained carefully in my PhD studies in the logic, method and philosophy of science, I have been horrified by the apparent abandonment of scientific method by many in research on our climate. 

I say this for two reasons. The first is that a basic premise of scientific method is that nothing can ever be proven for certain, that all conclusions are subject to change. Adoption of that approach was a key step in development of the scientific method and abandonment of religious-type certainty, yet it appears to have been abandoned as far as climate research in concerned. Second, you may remember that ex-president Obama opined that no grant money should be given to scientists seeking to disprove theories of climate change, yet the whole scientific method IS to generate experiments to disprove a hypothesis. I recommend subscribers read Karl Popper on this matter, as he explains the scientific method very clearly. 

I do not know whether human activity is particularly relevant to climate change, but I do know that much that passes as 'scientific research and comment' is just the opposite. I am more concerned about pollution that carbon dioxide, and that focus would have been much wiser than the approach adopted by the EU that ignored common sense, led to subsidy of diesel engines, and caused tens of thousands of premature deaths. (Was anyone ever held to account?). I never switched to diesel.

Well, despite Obama, there are alternative research views being published and this article refers to one quite contrary to the carbon dioxide hypothesis.

The original research article can be accessed by links in the article and I strongly suggest subscribers do read it to at least loosen their views a little.

It suggests that human influence is negligible and that any changes are mostly due to increased cloud cover generated by cycles in cosmic radiation. However, I fully expect the response to an alternative view will be as you stated: "Confirming evidence is accepted at face value but non-confirming evidence is dismissed. This practice is justified by the urgency of the problem and the need for action, but it is exactly when a vital decision needs to be made that cool heads need to prevail." 

Well done Eoin for stating this. You are impressive in your clear thinking and all subscribers benefit from your wisdom if they learn from you while investing.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email and I also read the article citing Finnish research with interest. Karl Popper was required reading when I was at university.

Cloud formation as a result of cosmic rays is particularly interesting as is cloud formation resulting from airline contrails. There are over 100,000 airline flights per day and that number is growing at an impressive rate as living standards rise. It makes intuitive sense that if there are more clouds the blanket effect of trapped heat is greater. Therefore, one of the most important innovations to monitor for pollution and climate is the drive towards emission free air travel.  

This article also discusses how planes can make rain and snow storms worse.

This link to Comment of the Day on May 21st may also be of interest. 

One point worth considering is if the regulatory authorities were not willing to act against diesel there is no chance a concerted effort will be made to tackle aircraft pollution until a viable alternative is commercially available.



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July 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on climate change.

Regarding the Allen Brooks piece on Climate change. I have to say I find the benign conclusions of the report totally unconvincing. Over the years I have read widely on the subject and have been especially impressed by the publications and books of one of the most eminent climate scientists whose work goes back more than 50 years. I refer to Professor James Lovelock. In a recent BBC interview, he suggested that global warming may be entering an acceleration phase. As I write this reply a news story has just announced that a high-pressure dome is due to affect the Eastern states of the US with predicted city temperatures likely to exceed 40 deg C. The simple fact is that you cannot expect hydrocarbons that have been trapped in the Earth’s crust over many millions of years, to be exploited by man over a few decades with the bye products going into the atmosphere, without grave consequences.to follow. Globally we have just experienced the hottest June ever and significantly Siberia has been 7 deg C above normal for the time of year. I mention this in respect of the melting permafrost which is now releasing methane in significant amounts. A gas thirty times more significant than CO2.as a greenhouse gas Of course this topic is an extremely emotional one, simply because the decisions made now on how we collectively proceed could not be more important. On balance I think I would go with the IPCC and James Lovelock. His books on Gaia theory, by the way, are worth reading

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this email which may be of interest to others. Higher median temperatures and more humid conditions in some areas than we are accustomed to are a fact. Coral bleaching and marine calcification are also facts we cannot dispel. Pollution of our rivers, lakes and oceans, desertification following logging and rapid expansion of cities to accommodate billions more people all represent significant challenges that need to be dealt with.



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July 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day on the Australian Dollar

You may have seen this but thought it worth sending as it has potentially big impact for us Aussie’s.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this article which I’m sure will be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Wilson, however, says that given Australia's funds have accumulated such a large stock of foreign assets, an aggregate decision of super funds to hedge their exposure will result in flows that will be twice as large as a percentage of GDP.

And it is the hedging of those exposures that is becoming a more relevant focus for market participants and policy makers

"A 10 percentage point shift in super fund hedge ratios was equivalent to a flow of 1.5 per cent of GDP in 2013. This is now 3.5 per cent."

It is therefore plausible that strengthening in the Australian dollar could trigger a "scramble to hedge" particularly among performance ranking obsessed super funds.

"A discrete increase in hedge ratios by Australian super funds now has the capacity to overwhelm the underlying outflow."

Australia, Wilson says has actually built up a "significant stock of foreign currency exposure" – well in excess of $1 trillion, or the equivalent of or 60 per cent of GDP.

That is because the banks, which borrow heavily from offshore, hedge the currency risk of virtually every dollar they raise, while super funds are prepared to take on more foreign exchange exposure.



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July 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Dips as Russian Pipe Flow Is Restored, Earnings Are Mixed

This article by Alex Longley and Alex Nussbaum for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Russian pipeline operator Transneft PJSC, meanwhile, said it resumed full flows from the country’s largest crude producer, Rosneft PJSC, after imposing restrictions amid concerns about contamination.

Oil has fallen all week as the specter of a renewed U.S.-China conflict dented the demand outlook, while American fuel stockpiles jumped. That’s overshadowed worries that Iran may shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a key chokepoint for much of the world’s oil shipments.

Eoin Treacy's view -

This week we have been treated to two examples of how much the energy sector has changed. First a hurricane shut down most gas supply in the Gulf of Mexico and hit the New Orleans area which is where a lot of processing infrastructure is situated. The price of gas fell instead of rising because so the market no longer relies on the Gulf of Mexico as a swing producer.



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July 18 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch July 16th 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Allen Brooks which may be of interest. Here is a section on climate models:

What is most important about the Institute’s climate model was its near perfect replication of the temperature history of 1861-2013.  Projected into the future, the Institute’s model projects an unalarming temperature increase to 2100 of 1.4C (2.52 F).  Note that the Institute’s projection falls below the 1.5C increase environmentalists say is necessary to keep the planet from selfdestruction.  That target can be met without upending our entire economic system and how it is powered.  

 The Institute’s temperature forecast is well below those produced from the climate models utilized by the IPCC, which in some cases are as much as five times greater.  The criticism of climate models is that they are biased to the warm side.  An interesting chart shows the temperatures from climate models attempting to recreate actual temperatures at various elevations of the atmosphere for 1979-2010.  The chart shows that the models always exceed the actual observations when they rely on CO2 as the forcing mechanism.  Without CO2, the models come much closer to replicating temperature history, demonstrating the warming bias of the carbon emissions thesis.  

Understanding that natural variables are more important in explaining our temperature history is important since such a climate model projects a smaller temperature increase.  This goes against the preconceived basis for founding the IPCC, and weakens the attack on fossil fuels.  The Institute’s climate model results suggest that adaptive steps, more fuel-efficient vehicles, equipment and appliances, as well as increased use of cleaner fossil fuels could be a more palatable and less costly route for the global economy than draconian plans such as the Green New Deal.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber;s Area.

Guilt is one of the most powerful of human emotions. When we fail it is because we did something wrong and need to atone for our sins. When we succeed it is happenstance and we don’t deserve the rewards we have received. This latter point is particularly relevant for people who become much more successful than they had initially expected, and even more so if there is a wide difference in performance relative to their kin or community.



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July 11 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on uranium and investing in illiquid shares

How do you think about liquidity in the context of a narrow theme like Uranium? And how would you measure it in this case? Volumes picking up and an increase in market capitalization of the sector? Or does it all tie back to the Fed and other central banks

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which may be of interest to other subscribers. Uranium is a comparatively small market with lots of minor constituents and a couple of large producers. When investing in any illiquid market, whether a sector or country index, weight of money moving in and out can have an inordinate effect on prices. That generally means you will not have an issue buying but selling often needs to be done in anticipation of a peak because liquidity can quickly evaporate during a downturn.



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July 10 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

German Vow to Cancel Permits Sends Carbon to 11-Year High

This article by Brian Parkin and Mathew Carr for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

“We’ve seen an encouraging rise in permit prices, so it’s no surprise that we see it as essential that the instrument continues to work as it should do,” Schulze said. “That’s logical. It makes no sense at all to implement an exit from coal here, only to export pollution licenses into the wider European system.”

And

“Scarcity is central to the aims of the European carbon trading market.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

Regardless of how one feels about the merits of carbon credits there is no arguing with state sponsored bull markets.

 



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July 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Roubini Lives Up to Dr. Doom Alias With Global Recession Call

This article by Gregor Stuart Hunter for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

On the trade front, deglobalization looms as countries around the world have to choose which country to align with -- the U.S. or China -- once the bilateral negotiations collapse, Roubini said. “This divorce is going to get ugly compared to the divorce between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.”

On top of that, an oil-price shock coming from Iran tensions would raise the prospect of 1970s-style stagflation as a rise in crude prices coincides with slower growth, Roubini said.

Speaking at a blockchain summit in Taipei, Roubini reiterated his skepticism toward cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

“There’s massive, massive amounts of price manipulation” in cryptocurrency trading, he said in remarks at the conference. As for blockchain, “it’s the most overhyped technology ever, it’s nothing better than a glorified spreadsheet,” Roubini said. “Nobody’s using it, and nobody’s ever going to use it.”

Eoin Treacy's view -

The stock market is at a new all-time high, but there is still such an impending sense of doom. That is not what one expects from market tops. Nouriel Roubini has a particular talent for soundbites, not least about cryptocurrencies. However, the challenges he alludes to are worthy of consideration.



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July 02 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings From The Oil Patch July 1st 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks ever interesting report. Here is a section:

Growing gas production has also allowed buyers to worry less about having substantial volumes in storage to meet winter demand.  Therefore, buyers see little need to lift gas prices to encourage storage injections.  That dynamic has been demonstrated by the low level of storage we reached last year, and now how quickly we are rebuilding storage, while also meeting increased gas consumption from the power and export markets.  

The recent gas production growth, which accelerated starting in 2016, appears to be slowing.  To some degree, it is a function of the Permian Basin crude oil pipeline capacity shortage, which has restricted associated natural gas output.  Will that change when the new oil pipelines begin operating later this year?  Only time will tell, but official forecasts call for a slowdown in the growth of gas production.  That means the bigger question for the natural gas market will be demand.

A recent webinar on the natural gas market and outlook through 2020 had two charts we found very interesting.  The first dealt with the significantly different gas storage picture in Europe.  Today, storage is well ahead of last year, which may have an impact on the amount of future liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments.  So far, it appears to have had little impact, but the lack of clarity about output levels from the Dutch gas fields could also impact the market for U.S. LNG shipments to Europe.  

The most interesting chart was explaining the firm’s gas price forecast compared to the NYMEX futures strip price.  The forecasters were able to frame their perspective about the upside and downside to their forecast by listing and quantifying the positive and negative factors for gas demand and supply.  We are not endorsing the forecast, but rather pointing out that there are a number of plusses and minuses that need to be considered when making a gas price forecast.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

Natural gas is in a secular bear market. There is no shortage of it and a steep contango remains evident. That continues to exert downward pressure on the price. New sources of outsized demand are required to resolve this condition. Outsized economic growth, hydrogen fuel cells or shifting demand from coal are all candidates.  The downtrend suggests these sources of potential demand are not yet strong enough to influence the market.



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June 24 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

The Future of Hydrogen

This report from EIA may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section

The time is right to tap into hydrogen’s potential to play a key role in a clean, secure and affordable energy future. At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its future development. The report finds that clean hydrogen is currently enjoying unprecedented political and business momentum, with the number of policies and projects around the world expanding rapidly. It concludes that now is the time to scale up technologies and bring down costs to allow hydrogen to become widely used. The pragmatic and actionable recommendations to governments and industry that are provided will make it possible to take full advantage of this increasing momentum.

Hydrogen can help tackle various critical energy challenges. It offers ways to decarbonise a range of sectors – including long-haul transport, chemicals, and iron and steel – where it is proving difficult to meaningfully reduce emissions. It can also help improve air quality and strengthen energy security. Despite very ambitious international climate goals, global energy-related CO2 emissions reached an all-time high in 2018. Outdoor air pollution also remains a pressing problem, with around 3 million people dying prematurely each year.

Hydrogen is versatile. Technologies already available today enable hydrogen to produce, store, move and use energy in different ways. A wide variety of fuels are able to produce hydrogen, including renewables, nuclear, natural gas, coal and oil. It can be transported as a gas by pipelines or in liquid form by ships, much like liquefied natural gas (LNG). It can be transformed into electricity and methane to power homes and feed industry, and into fuels for cars, trucks, ships and planes.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

The dramatic decline in natural gas prices and the abundant quantities being produced and in reserve mean that it is inevitable that new sources of demand will appear to take advantage. Since natural gas is one of the primary sources of hydrogen, it makes sense to promote fuel cell vehicles or range extenders for electric vehicles. How long it will take for this evolution to have an effect on the market is questionable, but it will probably be the catalytic event necessary to boost prices out of the long-term base. 



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June 19 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Musings from the Oil Patch June 18th 2019

Thanks to a subscriber for this edition of Allen Brooks’ ever interesting report for PPHB. Here Is a section on the commodity/S&P500 ratio:

When we contemplate the market’s assessment of commodities versus stocks, we find the former, which includes oil and gas, to be at the lowest valuation point in at least 50 years.  Does this mean that the commodity market it being disrupted?  Peak valuation points occurred in 1973-74, 1990 and 2008.  Each peak was associated with spikes in oil prices caused by geopolitical events such as the Arab Oil Embargo, the First Gulf War and the Global Financial Crisis, which happened as oil prices traded in excess of $100 per barrel.  Likewise, each low has been associated with low oil prices – either absolute lows, or lows below more recent oil price ranges.  

With respect to the low points in the valuation of commodities versus stocks, the prior two lows were marked by excess stock market speculation about super-growth stock future earnings.  The 1998-99  Dot.com Bubble, which saw companies brought public with barely any revenues and no earnings, but lots of “eyeballs” on web sites or clicks on shopping sites, happened to also be associated with oil prices falling to $11 per barrel as the Asian currency crisis unfolded and a brief global recession occurred.  The 1970-73 low was marked by the market bubble created by the Nifty-Fifty growth stocks, as price-to-earnings ratios for these 50 super-growth companies soared to ratios in excess of 50 times next year estimates for earnings per share.  Of course, two energy service companies – Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB-NYSE) and Halliburton Companies, Inc. (HAL-NYSE) – were part of this Nifty-Fifty stock group.  Crude oil prices at that point were in the $3 per barrel range, and there was a battle brewing between the seven largest global oil companies that ruled the international oil business and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries over the value of a barrel of oil for tax and royalty calculations.  That tax battle lit the fuse that exploded after the Yom Kippur War involving Israel and Egypt in 1973, leading to the Arab Oil Embargo and the explosion in global oil prices.  

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

This ratio has been doing the rounds of pundit commentary for the last couple of years because commodities are trading at a such a record low level relative to stocks. Jeff Gundlach in particular has been predicting a resurgence in commodity prices because of their relative discount to stocks and one of the reasons private equity has been so interested in the energy space is because of the relative discount to equities on offer, coupled with the prolific production profiles (and early payback) of unconventional wells.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on the USA's oil advantage:

Quick thought, following your comment on America's oil glut, and Morgan Stanley's report you highlighted.

I have been watching the difference in price between the WTI and Brent Crude for a long time now. The difference seems to vary between 10 and almost 20% depending on the day, with WTI obviously being the cheaper. Is it too SIMPLISTIC to say?

1) that US factories, offices, homes etc enjoy an enormous advantage over their global competitors with energy costs being so much cheaper, not forgetting it already enjoys a significant tax advantage over many as well.

2) when the US does become a significant oil exporter, it can make a lot of profit, even by offering only minor discounts to the Brent price to attract business. Possibly more profit than from its LNG exports.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for highlighting these points. I’ve always been a fan of Ockham’s Razor. There is no need to get over complicated. The USA has a massive advantage in terms of its oil and gas production capacity. That is reshaping global geopolitics, it will have a meaningful effect on the balance of payments and it has already had a meaningful effect on the chemical industry because of reduced input costs.  one.



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June 13 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Uranium Sector

Thanks to a subscriber for this report from Eight Capital which may be of interest. Here is a section:

Enviro Minister Schulze recently said that Germany will stick to its timetable to close the last nuclear reactor by YE22.  Some critics like Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess believe that it should wind down coal before nuclear. A recent Forbes article “What Does It Actually Cost to Charge Up an Electric Car focused on cost of charging an EV.  We took it one step further and also determined the environmental impact of Germany’s decision.  Given that France’s electricity generation is 73% nuclear and Germany is only 12%, we compared estimated costs and emissions associated with charging a Tesla Model S with a 100-kWh battery. First off, electricity prices appear 45% lower in France.  Secondly, CO2 emissions from electricity generation to charge an EV in France is just 13% of what it is in Germany. Yes, Germans would see a 140% CO2 reduction by using EV’s versus that from an average ICE vehicle, but the French would see a 1,720% CO2 reduction.

Eoin Treacy's view -

A link to the full report is posted in the Subscriber's Area.

For the green movement there is no greater cause celebre than to combat nuclear proliferation. That consideration more than any other fired the resolve of Angele Merkel to wind down Germany’s nuclear industry following the Fukushima disaster even though Germany is not a seismically active area.



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June 12 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

What if the US and China Reach a Trade Deal?

Thanks to subscriber for this report from Morgan Stanley which may be of interest. Here is a section:

June 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell's Floating Prelude LNG Poised to Load First Cargo

This article by Stephen Stapczynski for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here it is full:

Shell’s Prelude floating LNG plant offshore Australia is expected to load its first cargo on the vessel Valencia Knutsen, which is currently idled in the area, according to commodity shipment tracker Kpler.

* The vessel arrived near Prelude on June 4 and was likely attempting to load from the facility, but it left berth range a few hours after arrival, Kpler analysts said

** The vessel will probably be moored alongside the Prelude facility before the end of the week: Kpler

* NOTE: Shipment of the first LNG cargo is “imminent,” Platts reported on June 4, citing Shell’s head of integrated gas, Maarten Wetselaar

Eoin Treacy's view -

When Royal Dutch Shell announced it was ready to spend billions on developing a major offshore LNG processing facility in Northern Australia a few years ago it was considered a risky venture. However, the company’s long-term bet on natural gas representing a much better demand growth trajectory than crude oil has been proved correct. 



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May 16 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Stock Rally Gains Momentum on Risk Bet, Bonds Fall

This article by Randall Jensen and Vildana Hajric for Bloomberg may be of interest. Here is a section:

This has become a pattern where you get a big aggressive statement from the administration that might impact trade and then the market reacts aggressively as it did on Monday and then it seems to back off,” Chicago-based Susan Schmidt, head of U.S. equities at Aviva Investors, said in an interview. “Business is still doing well. I think if the market can stay focused on the facts and the data, then I think the market will hold.”

Strong economic data and earnings, along with hints from the Trump administration that it may be willing to compromise on trade has helped stocks rebound from the battering they took when the tariff battle with China flared. But the headlines have come fast and furiously, most recently President Donald Trump signed an order that’s expected to restrict Chinese telecommunications firms from selling in the U.S.

Eoin Treacy's view -

China’s dependence on global trade is far greater than the USA’s and the market has been voting with its feet by both supporting the Dollar, the bond market and the stock market since the trade war began.



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May 14 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Oil Rises as Drones Strike Saudi Pipeline and Trade Fears Recede

This article by Alex Nussbaum and Grant Smith for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Oil climbed as drones struck Saudi Arabia’s main cross-country crude pipeline, while President Donald Trump said a trade deal with China is still within reach.

Futures gained 1.2% in New York, amid assaults on the world’s chief crude exporter. State-owned Saudi Aramco halted operations in the area after the strike on two pumping stations, which was claimed by Iran-backed rebels from neighboring Yemen. The attack followed damage to four oil tankers anchored off the United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

Eoin Treacy's view -

The intensification of sanctions on Iran risked retaliation among the country’s proxies across the Middle East with Yemen being a good example. It is almost inevitable that Hizballah will now also rachet up activity as well.



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May 07 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Email of the day - on oil prices

“May I clarify something? The item denoted as Oil (1st West Texas) (CL1 COMB COMDTY) in the Chart Library - is this the Spot Price for WTI? Or is it the near-term futures price for WTI? Thanks in advance.“

Eoin Treacy's view -

Thank you for this question which other’s may also be interested in. The CL1 ticker is for the 1st month continuation chart. Oil trades on one-month contracts so it rolls with the most active contract at the end of every month.



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May 03 2019

Commentary by Eoin Treacy

Shell's Great Natural Gas Earnings Had a Helping Hand From Oil

This article by Kelly Gilblom and Dan Murtaugh for Bloomberg may be of interest to subscribers. Here is a section:

Shell is the world’s largest liquefied natural gas trader and sells most of the fuel on long-term contracts linked to oil prices. Some of those agreements are structured with a three-month lag, Chief Financial Officer Jessica Uhl told reporters on a conference call. That means that while global gas prices were tanking, Shell was still reaping benefits from a crude rally that sent Brent prices to the highest level in four years in early October.

“We have a business structured predominantly around long-term contracts, mostly oil linked,” Uhl said. “The price environment doesn’t have material impact on our business.” In addition, Shell also benefited from trading. The gas business was buoyed by a $234 million accounting gain in the value of its commodity derivatives. Shell’s rival, BP Plc, told investors on Tuesday that its strong trading earnings reflected shorting gas contracts.

Eoin Treacy's view -

Natural gas is the big winner from the demise of coal. Not only is it now cheaper than coal, because of tighter emissions regulations and unconventional drilling, but it is also less polluting. That’s particularly important for Asia which has some of the most polluted cities in the world and where standards of living are increasing most rapidly which is creating demand for clearer solutions.



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