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Debt Buyback Bumps Share Price for Oil Driller

As part of a deleveraging plan, California Resources Corp. has managed to pay off a good deal of debt – and raised its stock price as a byproduct. The Chatsworth oil and natural gas production company originally had planned to spend up to $525 million to buy back corporate notes at deep discounts and on Aug. 8 increased that amount to $750 million. Announcement of the increase sent California Resource’s share price up 27 percent to $12.01. Since then it has continued to gain, closing Aug. 17 at $12.66. The debt buybacks, at discounts ranging from a third to about half of what bond buyers were originally set to get, heartened stock investors apparently because the moves increase the odds that the troubled company will survive. Chief Executive Todd Stevens on Aug. 15 said: “With this transaction, we will have reduced our overall debt levels by more than $1.3 billion from our post-spin peak. As market conditions warrant, we will continue to pursue additional deleveraging opportunities.” California Resources was spun off from Occidental Petroleum Corp. in late 2014, as Occidental was moving from Los Angeles to Houston. In March of last year, California Resources moved its headquarters to Chatsworth. But the company has been troubled from the start; Occidental took $6 billion out of the new company, leaving it with that amount in debt, and since its inception California Resources has faced historically low oil prices. In the second quarter, the company reported an adjusted net loss of $72 million (-$1.80 a share) compared with a net loss of $51 million (-$1.33) in the same period a year earlier. Revenue decreased 50 percent to $317 million. Luana Siegfried, a research associate for the oil and gas industry with Raymond James & Associates, in St. Petersburg, Fla., said that California Resources is taking the right measures with the debt buyback to improve its balance sheet. “It is a moment of wait-and-see if the deleverage plans that management has in hand can naturalize,” Siegfried said. All oil companies are currently struggling because of the low price of oil, she continued, but California Resources has the extra challenge of a highly leveraged balance sheet. On Aug. 15, the company said that its tender offer had been oversubscribed. Investors making validly tendered notes before or on the early participation date of Aug. 12 would receive between $510 and $675 per $1,000 of the principal amount of outstanding notes.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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