atans1

Qns for Keppel, SembCorp Marine

In Energy, Temasek on 24/02/2016 at 2:08 pm

FT’s Nick Butler  had 4 questions for the oil majors’ results season:  where they spintheir annual results, declare dividends and reveal strategy updates. These are useful questions for Keppel and SembBorp Marine except the second question should be about their vanalysis of their clients projects. And for Temasek too. And useful guide when asking questions about the small cap offshore marine stocks: stocks like Ezra amd Swiber. Btw, it’s rumoured that Temasel officials used Nick Butler’s questions when they last met Keppel and SembCorp Marine executives.

First, did you foresee the fall in prices across the energy sector in the past two years? I don’t think anyone can answer that with a yes, which leads inexorably to the supplementary question: if not, why not? This is the question the Queen asked a group of economists after the financial crash and the 2008 downturn. It seems she is still waiting for a clear answer.

Second, what proportion of your producing assets and projects under development requires an oil price above $50 a barrel (or a comparable gas price) to produce a positive rate of return? This is a more complex question but if answered truthfully will expose the extent to which some companies over invested at high prices and will continue to struggle.

Third, what is your strategy if oil, gas and coal prices stay low — say, below $50 a barrel for the next five years? This is the most important question, especially for investors who rely on a secure dividend flow. To the best of my knowledge no energy company has yet explained its strategy, which makes it all the more important that the question should be asked and answered. Any chief executive who says that a long period of low prices is impossible should be retired immediately.

Finally, what do you believe are the most significant advances in technology in the energy sector in the past year and how could they affect your business? What are you doing to make sure you capture the benefits of those advances rather than falling victim to them? The aim here is to extract a clear statement of long-term strategy. Focusing on technology should test whether companies are taking the time to look outside and watching the advances being made on solar and storage; and whether they understand the dramatic scale of the changes that are happening. At the individual level, the question will test whether chief executives are looking ahead at the medium and long-term or simply trying to coast to a well-padded retirement.

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