Friday, November 27, 2015
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Sold Out Of OMAB


I traded out of OMAB, going into the bell, for $40.36 a share. I added +6.6% in price appreciation, plus another +3.8% in dividends collected, for a return of +10.4% over

This is just not that big of a return, but I need to be honest about how this year is going. I’ve taken write downs and it makes sense to offset those losses with gains wherever possible.

OMAB’s growth rate has been slowing down from the stellar +17% it was at the beginning of the year, now at around +12%. Double digit growth is still impressive but aside from that, at the end of the day, I was still the owner of a Mexican airline company.

The reasoning behind the position was to ride cheap fuel and a rebounding consumer. But after this past year, the last thing I need is any more fucker.

And Mexican companies are nothing but fuckery.

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The Drilling Hiatus Has Begun


BAS just reported utilization numbers for October, and nestled in the release was this gem:

Drilling rig days for the month were 50 producing a rig utilization of 13%, compared to 27% and 88% in September 2015 and October 2014, respectively.

In the BAS earnings call, CEO Patterson gave advanced notice that this was happening. Basically, as companies hit their 2015 budgets in this awful environment, managers are just idling drilling fleets rather than bother asking for more. We should start to see drilling collapse to 0% over the last month and a half of the year.

This should be an almost industry wide phenomenon. Then, we wait and see if they come back online in January.

Of course oil prices are now screaming to $40, testing every nerve I possess. This is the most trying market I have ever had the bad luck of being caught in. Even in 2008 I had the good sense to get out while I still could.

Yet here I am, in the most milquetoast of economic situations, watching billion dollar companies being sliced into quarters for no reason other than some foreign devils decided they’d rather gamble away their very existence.

Good grief.

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In Hindsight, Today Will Be Important For HCLP


HCLP and their bank reached a fast agreement on the compliance ratios. This is a big deal and I am very grateful for it. I almost turned tail and ran earlier this month when the threat of a breach surfaced in their earnings report. Sticking around has already proven fruitful (see the relief rally).

Hi-Crush Partners LP Announces Revolving Credit Facility Amendment

Houston, Texas, November 6, 2015 - Hi-Crush Partners LP (HCLP), “Hi-Crush” or the “Partnership”, today reported the completion of an amendment to its Revolving Credit Facility Agreement. The amendment, among other things, provides for a reduction in the commitment level from $150 million to $100 million, waives the compliance ratios through June 30, 2017 (the “Effective Period”), establishes certain minimum quarterly EBITDA covenants, allows distributions to unitholders up to 50% of quarterly distributable cash flow after quarterly debt payments on the term loan, and increases the pricing to LIBOR plus 4.50% during the Effective Period.

Accordingly, when HCLP has to take write offs early next year (they hinted at this) and they breach the old ratio limits, they will have a full two years to get back into compliance. And, as they have just suspended distribution, they should have plenty of cash to make that happen. Any recovery in oil prices over that time will obviously expedite the process, but I don’t have to count on such a hypothetical occurring in any timely manner now.

More importantly, their bank is labeling them a victor and communicating a commitment to making them work. Someone else will be getting the sharp end of the spear of destiny.

I am now all but completely confident that both of my remaining oil investments – HCLP and BAS – will experience full recoveries over the next few years.

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The Other Half of the BAS Earnings Report


Now that I have the filing available, I can see that BAS saw accounts receivables basically hold unchanged from June to September. At June, BAS had account receivables of $126.4 million. By September, account receivables still held at $124.7 million. That’s nothing to worry about.

As a proximity of future business, that BAS has seen account receivables hold steady over the past three months comforts me. The last three months were a dark time in the oil industry and many people are being forced out of business.

Throw in that revenues held up at $189 million from $193 million and I am a happy Cain Hammond Thaler.

The cash issue unsettled my stomach at first, but actually their operations produced more cash in gross. Seeing how spending the ~$40 million on equipment and businesses was a willful decision (although one that gave me intense heartburn), I actually feel pretty good about this quarter.

Actually, at this point I’m more concerned about HCLP, which dropped news that their debt is tied to asinine ratio testing which could blow up in their faces next year.

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HCLP Misses On Earnings, Suspends Distribution


She moves through the darkness, one leg in front of the other, silently across the floor. The cool air wafts around her legs as she begins to climb the stairs. One, two, three… the stone makes hardly a sound; the clattering of footsteps cannot be heard.

The wood does not creak as she steps onto the landing. A light at the end of the hall peaks out of a doorway. She passes through it.

The foot rests in front of her, beneath the desk. Softly, she passes next to it, at the last moment letting her body rest against the flesh, rubbing slowly.

She purrs – a deep loud sound – then soundlessly arrives in Cain’s lap, flexing her claws one of the next before letting his hand stroke her head and long body.

I pass my fingertips through her long hair, ending by twirling the lynx shaped tufts with my forefinger and thumb. Then I turn back to what I was reading.

4:26 pm Hi-Crush Partners misses by $0.04, reports revs in-line; announces temporary distribution suspension (HCLP) :

Reports Q3 (Sep) earnings of $0.15 per share, excluding non-recurring items, $0.04 worse than the Capital IQ Consensus of $0.19; revenues fell 20.3% year/year to $81.5 mln vs the $80.9 mln Capital IQ Consensus.
The Partnership reiterated the guidance for capital expenditures in the range of $50-$55 million for 2015 of which $48 million was spent in the first nine months of the year.
Capital expenditures for 2016 are expected to be in the range of $15-$25 million for the continued development of new terminal facilities.
Since August 1, 2015, Hi-Crush has reduced operational and administrative staffing levels by ~16%, including the most recent reductions at the Augusta facility.

Distribution Temporarily Suspended

The Partnership announced a temporary suspension of its quarterly distribution due to challenging market conditions.
Co paid distributions of $2.40 per unit on all common and subordinated units for 2014, $0.675 per unit for the first quarter 2015, and $0.475 per unit for the second quarter 2015.

I had expected something like this, particularly after EMES withdrew guidance. While I had hoped they would only reduce to a more normal percentage, suspending the entire distribution until fairer weather is perfectly acceptable. SLCA and EMES are going to do the same.

The most recent HCLP filing is out and it shows the story: accounts receivables have declined by 35% as business dries up. But the business is hardly over leveraged with Debt/Equity still holding below 2X. Cash levels increased by over 8% and now with the distribution halt, they are staking out the long winter.

HCLP has moved to shrink the business aggressively, cutting staff by 16%. Admittedly this is nothing like one of the services companies or some of the smaller oil drillers. But then again…they don’t have that kind of problem, now do they?

HCLP took a loss this quarter of ($0.49) a share, which was entirely driven by one time write downs. The company is in a similar (though less dire) process as other companies in this industry, cutting dead weight operations and consolidating around profit centers. They are also writing down and taking losses where applicable. In this case, HCLP wrote down some of their long term supply contracts (presumably because the customers aren’t going to live long enough to fill them).

Cash from HCLP’s operations only declined by about 11%. HCLP already spent about $48 million this year on investments in equipment and facilities, but they are looking to pair that back next year to $15-25 million.

Without the distribution and with the lower capital expenditures, HCLP will have expenses of inside $30 million per year. Cash flow is $67 million which even if we continue to impair, should more than cover the costs of doing business.

If HCLP was forced to go the BAS route and write off all goodwill and intangible asset value, they’d still have about $2 per share of equity to work with. That leaves another $69 million of equity as a buffer.

This line in the filing does concern me:

Under the terms of the Revolving Credit Agreement, our leverage ratio (total debt to trailing four quarter EBITDA) may not exceed 3.50. While our leverage ratio as of September 30, 2015, is below this threshold, if current market conditions persist, our leverage ratio will likely exceed this threshold during 2016, which could result in a breach of covenant event and an event of default under the Revolving Credit Agreement. If such a default were to occur, and resulted in a cross default of the Term Loan Credit Agreement, all of our outstanding debt obligations could be accelerated. The Partnership is currently in discussions with the lenders to amend the Revolving Credit Agreement to, among other things, waive the leverage and other compliance ratios. The Partnership makes no assurance that an amendment will be obtained.

So the question becomes, how willing are lenders to play ball? Promise of money is better than no money, no? It’s not as if bankers could run HCLP better than HCLP is. But these things always get messy.

In principle, there’s plenty of time here to ride out the storm. But we need oil markets to stabilize. BAS’ CEO Patterson says he sees signs of oil production going offline and was talking about operations idling after Thanksgiving. It sounds like companies have spent their budget this year and aren’t going to bother asking for more money.

Patterson also said he’s seen competition spike in his local markets, with thirty or more competitors entering to submit bids. In his anecdote, he said about twenty of them are left now.

Although it may not feel like it, the weak are being driven out. The industry is getting their cost to drop and they are learning to compete with the cheaper oil levels. This hurts but the survivors will probably be built to last. Provided, of course, that you are a survivor.

Budgets are being frozen in December. The oil producers are going to take a little recess. We’ll see what oil prices do in response.

Then things will get started again in January.

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Canada-Oil Train Derailment

Here’s the summary of Basic Energy Services quarter – it was the same shitty results they had last quarter but with one key distinction:

The environment for oil companies operating in the higher cost fracking regions have declined so dramatically that BAS had to write off their entire goodwill provision in their assets. Now in some respects I had already done this internally. If, for instance, you re-read this article on BAS I posted on September 16, you’ll see I was referencing a debt/equity ratio of 5.4:

Debt for BAS is not unreasonable, and is one of the more attractive aspects of the company. Whereas many of their competitors are in real threat of default, I think BAS has repayment under control with a debt to equity ratio of 5.4.

But, in actuality, at the time BAS did not technically have a debt to equity ratio of 5.4, if you took the corporate equity at their word. They had a debt to equity ratio of 3.2.

The reason I listed then that BAS had a 5.4 debt to equity ratio is precisely because I do not take financial statements at their word.

Well, I guess that’s convenient, because as of now BAS definitely has a debt to equity ratio of 5.0. At least 5.0. Because they had to write off all $82 million in goodwill at once.

The jig is up, boys.

I hope you are ready for some serious fireworks, because BAS will not be the only ones writing off tens of millions this quarter. We are going to watch some serious shit hit the fan and it is happening right now.

I know there’s some people in The PPT keeping an eye on Debt/Equity ratios of oil & gas companies. I’ve been watching quietly. And I know BAS wasn’t even on your list, probably precisely because their official debt/equity ratio was in check until just now.

So here’s what you do. If a company like BAS can see that ratio go to 5.0 in three months, then a company that was already sitting at 5.0 will probably see that triple or quadruple (thank you exponential relationships…). In fact, at every doubling of the ratio, double the rate. So a debt / equity ratio of 5X would probably end up at about 8X (if I use BAS as a guide). 8X gets you 30X.

Cool, now all these companies are dead.

Here’s where I am frightened; somehow, BAS managed to burn $40 million this quarter. They said it was on fucking equipment, but I am super skeptical. Who buys equipment in this environment, even if the purchases are contractually obligated? These are the times when you say “fuck those contracts, take me to court”…because dead shells don’t honor contracts anyway. They have as much cash on hand now as they did in September 2014, but the market wasn’t like this in September 2014.

I have been keeping a tight eye on the old filings from 2009, because if I have to hold them to a measure, 2009 seems like a great point in time to do it. Albeit, the entire sector has twice as much debt as they did in 2009, but it’s still a great starting point to a conversation.

At this point in 2009 BAS had $137 million in cash on hand. And they had only $400 million in long term debt. Today they’ve got $56 million on hand with $800 million in long term debt. My prior optimism was based around their increasing cash to $90 million last quarter…because I had expected them to have over $100 million in the bank by now.

Instead they let their cash reserves get cut in half? Buying FUCKING EQUIPMENT?

Here are some positive takes on BAS’ quarter, I guess. Revenue barely declined, the company is holding the line in that regards. Expenses were pretty constant too, so after we get away from the egregious write down, there was only a $5 million deterioration at play. Basically another ($1.20) loss, not much worse. The company is allegedly restructuring management and workers (which ate up some extra funds), so hopefully they can drop their expenses by $5-10 million, which would at least close the Adjusted EBITA hole that opened up this quarter.

Profit margins aren’t plunging like they were either. Competition is fierce and margins are weakening, but not that badly. The weakest points were Well Servicing and Contract Drilling (obviously), but the other lines of business barely budged lower.

So it looks like this quarter BAS business actually stabilized somewhat. Unfortunately, it stabilized at a point at which BAS (or any similar company) couldn’t hope to keep the doors open.

One of my two sacred cows has just died. BAS lost cash (on the stupidest of reasons). My other (accounts receivables) haven’t been reported yet.

Regardless on what happens specifically with this company, make no mistake – these next three months are going to be the blackest of our lives. The entire US oil and gas industry is coming to a close.

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