Tullow Oil (LSE: TLW) is an oil explorer and producer operating in Africa and South America. The Tullow Oil share price rose about 140% in the past year. The stock traded with a low price of 13.42p and a high of 65.82p during this period. I have missed this stock market rally. Is it too late for me to invest in this penny stock?
The bull case for the Tullow Oil share price
Tullow Oil’s recent results are good, taking into consideration the disruptions caused by Covid-19. The company’s revenue fell by 17% year on year to $1.4bn. Sales volume increased by 0.8% to 74,600 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd). This was offset by a 23% decline in average realised oil prices to $50.9 per barrel (bbl) of oil.
Oil prices have been on a steady rise this year. They have remained above $50/bbl and currently are trading at around $72/bbl. The strong demand and supply restraints of oil have led to an upward trend. This is positive for Tullow Oil’s share price.
The company reported free cash flow of $432m. An asset sale in Uganda helped to raise cash and reduce debt. The company also plans to sell assets this year, which should help the company focus on productive assets with good cash flows.
Particularly, management is confident in its Ghanaian oil fields. It has only produced about 393m barrels, of the estimated 2.8bn barrels in Ghana. Recently, it also started its multi-year and multi-well drilling in this region. This was an important milestone for the company, which should help realise its 10-year business plan.
A high debt a concern?
The company has reduced its net debt from $2.8bn to $2.4bn at the end of December 2020. Even though the reduction is positive, the debt is still very high. The company’s market capitalisation is about $1.3bn at the time of writing. Its equity at the end of December 2020 was negative $210m. Credit rating agencies also have downgraded their ratings in the past year. This would make it difficult for the company to raise debt and also increase its interest costs.
Tullow Oil’s chair, Dorothy Thompson, recently decided to step down. This is a bit of concern unless the company finds a good replacement, since Thompson was instrumental in cost savings, asset sales, and efficiently handling the company.
The long-term outlook is not very encouraging for the energy sector. Most countries are looking for a reduction of oil consumption and looking for clean energy alternatives. So, in my opinion, oil prices might be under pressure, which is negative for Tullow Oil’s share price.
Taking all things into consideration. I like the company’s focus on cash flows and trying to achieve its 10-year business plan. However, the debt is a bit of worry for me. So, I would keep the stock on my watchlist, and I am not a buyer of the stock today.
Royston Roche has no position in any of the shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has no position in any of the shares mentioned. Views expressed on the companies mentioned in this article are those of the writer and therefore may differ from the official recommendations we make in our subscription services such as Share Advisor, Hidden Winners and Pro. Here at The Motley Fool we believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.