|Shares Out. (in M):||773||P/E||30.5x||15.9x|
|Market Cap (in $M):||14,177||P/FCF||0.0x||0.0x|
|Net Debt (in $M):||8,292||EBIT||1,249||1,859|
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Thesis: Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) is at an inflection point in its restructuring plan which I believe will unlock significant value for shareholders. Assuming the management fulfills its mandate, I think the company is worth $26-28 per share, ~40-50% upside from where the stock is trading currently.
As a result of poor execution, weak internal controls and multiple accounting issues, the Company has suffered from “self-inflicted” wounds and seen its stock drop ~40% over the last three years. The Company’s results have been heavily impacted by over $1.5 billion in “non-recurring” costs since 2011, including ~$800 million in goodwill impairments, ~$250 million in penalties associated with a US government investigation, ~$230 million in losses associated with legacy turnkey drilling contracts in Iraq, ~$180 million in professional fees for accounting and tax restatements, ~$100 million charge on its Venezuelan assets due to currency depreciation and ~$70 million in bad debt expense associated with payments due from the Venezuelan state-owned oil company. Furthermore, earnings have been weighed down by non-core operations that are currently contributing negative operating profit.
So why is this situation interesting today? What has changed?
The combination of negative headlines, mixed Company-wide operating performance, unclear strategy, poor management decisions and accounting problems has served to obscure the earnings power of the WFT’s core business. I believe these overhangs are temporary and the dislocation will dissipate over the next 12-24 months. The basic thesis is simple yet compelling - this is an underperforming company that is making slow yet steady progress to improving its operating performance. The management team has changed its focus from solely on growth to return on capital, and has recently embarked on a number of restructuring initiatives to sell non-core assets, reduce debt, cut headcount and increase operating margins. The Company has also made two key changes at the senior management level – hiring of a new CFO (former Treasurer at Schlumberger) and an internally promoted COO - to spearhead the turnaround. While most of the hard work is yet to come, the Company has already achieved some noteworthy accomplishments including the resolution of all outstanding accounting and tax issues, an important milestone for the new CFO.
On look-through earnings: assuming the management team delivers on its new mandate, core EBITDA margins should increase from ~20% today to ~25%. As such, I believe the Company can generate ~$2 in “normalized” eps per annum under this scenario. This compares to the $1.10-1.20 eps management has guided to for FY 2014. Using a historical average of 13-14x P/E, the fair value range is $26-28 per share.
($mm) 2014e EBITDA Multiple Valuation
Less: Corp/R&D (425) 8.1x (3460)
Less: Net Debt (8292)
Equity Value 20878
Per Share $27.00
While the Company has made good progress thus far - two key appointments, the financial restatement and an asset sale - this is an execution story. The Company is clearly at an inflection point and is transitioning from an unchecked growth mantra to disciplined capital allocation. As such, execution on the following fronts will serve to unlock value:
The company is scheduled to report Q1 results this evening and hold the conference call tomorrow morning. Focus items include performance of the core business, update on divestitures and cost cutting.
Risks? Two main levels of risk: macro (oil) and company-specific (execution)
At a macro level, WFT’s business is ultimately driven by oil drilling activity, and therefore any decline in oil prices affects global drilling activity. Fortunately, liquid instruments exist to hedge out commodity exposure. I am relatively positive on oil-service industry fundamentals. Oil companies produce ~90 million barrels daily to meet consumer demand which is growing ~1.2% per annum. Concurrently, we are seeing a decline rate in existing wells at ~5% per annum. As a result, oil is getting harder and more expensive to produce. In the absence of significant new discoveries, oil companies have to pump more barrels to meet current demand. This bodes well for oil service companies such as WFT that facilitate production. At the micro level, while I am encouraged by the restatement and Company’s progress so far, there is much to do on the operating front. Additionally, you can never be 100% certain that other issues won’t surface given the jurisdictions that WFT and quite frankly all the other multinational oil-services companies operate in. While WFT is cheap on both an absolute and relative basis, I am factoring in 20% potential downside in a bear case.
Free/cheap options? working capital release, IPO/sale of artificial lift, sale of the company
On the working capital front, I estimate that additional value of $1-1.50 per share is available from basic blocking and tackling to bring inventory turns and receivable/payable days in line with industry peers. The artificial lift business is the crown jewel in WFT’s portfolio and generates ~20% of the Company’s EBITDA. A sale or IPO could add incremental upside above our sum of the parts value. The only pure-play in the sector (Lufkin) was recently purchased by GE for 13.5x forward EBITDA. Finally, in the event the current management team fails to execute, a sale of the entire company is very feasible.
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