Eclipse stock price soars – click for larger version
Eclipse Resources CEO Ben Hulburt yesterday gave what will be his last quarterly update at the helm of his company. Eclipse is being bought out by and merged with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources, the renamed remnant of Magnum Hunter Resources, by the end of this year (see Eclipse Resources Merging with Former Magnum Hunter). Hulburt, along with pretty much all of Eclipse’s top brass, is leaving the company post-merger. All except for Oleg Tolmachev, the guy who figures out how to drill those record-breaking, super long onshore laterals. As for 3Q18, the company hit a new high in revenues of $130 million, making a $4 million profit (swinging into the black). That bit of good news sent Eclipse’s stock price soaring 11%.
Although most of the top brass will exit stage left within the next two months, it is business as usual in the meantime:
Eclipse drilled 5 gross (2.2 net) operated wells, completed 8 gross (3.5 net) operated wells, and turned to sales 13 gross (6.8 net) operated Utica Shale wells. They also turned to sales their first Utica Shale well in northern Pennsylvania, with a completed lateral length of approximately 13,800 feet. After cleaning up the PA well it has consistently produced 32 million cubic feet (MMcf) per day and is performing “ahead of the Company’s expectations over the first 35 days of production.”
As for the merger, that will happen in 4Q18–less than two months left! Once the merger happens, the new combined company’s line of credit will increase from $225 million to $375 million.
Eclipse produced 346.4 MMcfe/d in 3Q18, down slightly from producing 352.8 MMcfe/d in 3Q17.
An overview of Eclipse’s news from our friends at Kallanish Energy:
Independent producer Eclipse Resources, currently in the process of acquiring fellow independent Blue Ridge Mountain Resources, reported Wednesday recording-setting third-quarter revenue.
Revenue for the quarter ended Sept. 30, hit $130.12 million, up from $91.55 million one year ago, Kallanish Energy reports.
“For the third quarter of 2018, the company was able to achieve record revenue of $130.1 million, a 42% increase over the third quarter of 2017, while also posting a 46% increase in adjusted EBITDAX over the third quarter of 2017, which came in at a new company record of $66.8 million,” said Benjamin W. Hulburt, chairman, president and CEO.
Eclipse’s crude oil and natural gas liquids jumped year-over-year, with crude production up more than 100%, to 574,800 barrels, while NGL production rose 34.2%, to 906,400 barrels during the three-month period.
Natural gas production fell 14% year-over-year, to 22.98 billion cubic feet (Bcf), down from 26.72 Bcf.
Higher commodity prices naturally helped the Pennsylvania-based independent, with oil reaching $52.67/Bbl, up from $42.42/Bbl, NGLs jumping to $27.66/Bbl, from $19.52/Bbl, while natural gas rose to $2.22 per million Btus (Mmbtu), from $2.20/Mmbtu.
During the third quarter of 2018, Eclipse began drilling five gross (2.2 net) operated wells, commenced completions of eight gross (3.5 net) operated wells and turned to sales 13 gross (6.8 net) operated Utica Shale wells.
Third-quarter operating income jumped into positive territory, to $21.19 nmillion, from a $2.79 million loss one year ago. Profit for the quarter totaled $4 million, compared to a $16.69 million loss in the year-ago quarter.
Commenting on the acquisition of Blue Ridge, estimated at an equity value of $908 million, Eclipse said progress on the merger closing is continuing as planned, with the deal expected to be consummated during the fourth quarter of this year.
Pending completion of the merger, Eclipse said it’s received nonbinding commitments supporting an increase in the company’s revolving credit facility borrowing base of $150 million to $375 million, while extending the maturity of the credit facility to five years from the deal closing.
Blue Ridge, headquartered in Irving, Texas, changed its name in 2017. it was formerly Magnum Hunter Resources, which declared bankruptcy in 2016 and ousted founder Gary Evans.
Blue Ridge CEO John Reinhart will lead the combined company. He formerly was chief operating officer at Ascent Resources, initially created by Aubrey McClendon following his ouster from the company he co-founded, Chesapeake Energy. Reinhart had worked at Chesapeake for roughly nine years. (1)
Eclipse’s share price took off following the release of the 3Q18 update. From investor website Motley Fool:
Shares of Eclipse Resources Corp. (NYSE:ECR) surged more than 11% by 3:30 p.m. EDT on Thursday after the natural gas driller reported surprisingly strong third-quarter results.
Eclipse Resources recorded $11.1 million, or $0.04 per share, of adjusted net income in the third quarter, which was well ahead of the $0.02-per-share loss analysts expected. While companywide production slipped about 2% year over year, the company’s output of higher-margin natural gas liquids and oil surged 34% and 104%, respectively, due to strong production results from wells drilled into liquids-formations in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions.
In addition to the increased output of higher margin products, Eclipse also benefited from lower production costs. One driver of the expense reduction was the recent completion of Energy Transfer’s (NYSE:ET) Rover system. Eclipse Resources not only used the capacity it contracted on the Energy Transfer pipeline to reduce its transportation costs, but also took advantage of underutilized capacity from competitors to move more of its production to higher valued markets, which increased its margins.
Eclipse Resources is merging with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources in a deal that will create one of the largest Utica Shale-focused drillers. Eclipse estimates that the combined company can grow production at a more than 20% annual rate going forward while living within its cash flow. While that makes it an intriguing natural gas stock, the sector has several issues to work through. That’s why investors might want to put Eclipse Resources on their watchlist for now and consider buying one of these top energy stocks instead. (2)
It was a bit unusual, but during the quarterly conference call with analysts no questions were taken from the audience. There were three speakers, all from Eclipse. Given the upcoming merger, we understand why there were no questions. You don’t want to screw the pooch when it comes to the merger–and the people talking on the phone will not be around following the merger. Best to stick to the script and get off.
The following was current CEO Ben Hulburt’s prepared comments on yesterday’s call:
Thank you, Doug, and thank you to everyone for listening to our call today. Before discussing this quarter’s results, I would like to provide a brief update on our merger with Blue Ridge Mountain Resources. As I hope you can understand, given the pending merger, we will be keeping our comments brief and to the point, and restrictions around our ability to comment on the deal and the process means that we will not be taking any questions on this call.
Both companies are continuing to make significant progress on a number of items related to the transaction, and the process is proceeding as planned. Additionally, we are pleased to announce that the proposed increase in the revolving credit facility to $375 million from $225 million has received nonbinding commitments supporting the increase and extending the maturity of the credit facility to five years from the closing date, subject to documentation and merger closing. Eclipse Resources has filed its Form S4 registration statement to register the offer and sale of company common stock as consideration in the transaction with the Securities and Exchange Commission and continues to anticipate the closing of the transaction during the fourth quarter of 2018.
Earlier this week, Blue Ridge Mountain Resources provided updated guidance for the full year 2018. For the fourth quarter of 2018, Blue Ridge is expecting to produce approximately 187 million to 212 million cubic feet equivalent per day and achieving EBITDAX of approximately $30 million to $40 million. Assuming they’re able to achieve these forecasts and utilizing our implied fourth quarter guidance, the pro forma merged company would be expected to have combined production of approximately 560 million to 600 million cubic feet equivalent per day and EBITDAX of approximately $100 million to $115 million in the fourth quarter of this year, excluding any potential cost benefits from synergies post merger.
Switching back to the Eclipse stand-alone company results. For the third quarter, I am pleased to announce that we have again exceeded our internal and consensus expectations. I’m extremely proud of the team that has remained highly focused on lowering cost to enhance returns while operating within our capital budget and maintaining a strong liquidity position. During the third quarter of 2018, our average daily production was approximately 346 million cubic feet equivalent per day.
More importantly, our revenue was a company record at $130.1 million, a 42% increase over 2017 and our adjusted EBITDAX grew to over $66.8 million for the quarter, a 46% increase over 2017. These records again reflect our strategic decision to focus activity on the liquids portion of our acreage, which now accounts for approximately 48% of our overall revenue mix. Additionally, on the expense side, our per-unit cash production costs including firm transportation expense was $1.46 per Mcfe, which showed incremental improvement over the second quarter of 2018.
I am pleased to report that all of these financial metrics were better than analyst consensus expectations. During the third quarter of 2018, the company drilled six wells with an average lateral length of approximately 14,500 feet. On the completion side, we completed 14 wells, which include six condensate and eight dry gas wells with completion cost running at to slightly below our AFEs while averaging approximately 5.1 stages per day.
While we continue to focus on innovation and enhancing our rates of return in our wells, we have not seen any meaningful service cost inflation in the Appalachian Basin today. In fact, as we look forward, we see substantial future reductions and completion costs, which could lower our AFEs on the order of approximately 5% to 10% through the remainder of this year and into 2019. Additionally, during the third quarter, we turned to sales 13 gross, 6.8 net wells to sales, which consisted of 40 Utica Dry Gas wells and 8 Utica condensate wells and our first operated Flat Castle well, the Painter 2H, in Northern Pennsylvania.
Moving to the Flat Castle project in Pennsylvania. We continue to be excited for the potential of this area and are pleased with the strong initial production results that have been achieved. After initial clean up, the wells production quickly achieved our target rate of approximately 32 million cubic feet per day, which was expected to continue for an initial flat period of approximately 30 days. The wells production continued at this level after reaching the 30 day period, which is encouraging to us and we will be continuing to monitor this wells performance closely.
In our Southeast Ohio Utica Shale dry gas project area, our 4-well Yellow Rose pad began flowing into sales during the third quarter and reached a combined target rate of approximately 170 million cubic feet per day with two of these wells producing slightly over 50 million cubic feet per day each. We continue to remain pleased with the performance of the Marcellus wells in our stacked pay area in Eastern Monroe County, Ohio. Since coming online in January of this year, the two Marcellus wells drilled on the David Stalder pad have continued to significantly outperform expectations and are on track to exceed our previously issued type curve EUR for this area, further derisking the acreage.
In addition, our recent round of Guernsey County condensate Utica wells have turned sales at or above expectations from initial gas rates and more importantly, condensate yields, allowing Eclipse to remain one of the highest liquid concentrated producers in the basin, with approximately 48% of our revenue derived from liquids production. Overall, I remain fairly pleased with this team and their push to innovate in order to enhance the value of our asset base and our company. We have shown our ability to continue to outperform the goals we set for ourselves and anticipate that this will continue as we move forward through the remainder of the year. (3)