How is oil doing?
Crude oil hit a 4-month high last week aided by more demand in gasoline, production cuts, and a higher-than-predicted U.S. jobs record. The caveat is that the jobs data has been a major market boost in the last few weeks as it shows signs of a recovering economy. However, analysts nevertheless anticipate oil to face resistance to any further profits. “Oil has carried the burden on recovery and demand, and it’s no longer clear whether or not that would hold into August and September,” Andrew Lebow, senior associate at Commodity studies organization, gave his views on Bloomberg.
OPEC+ scheduled to ease production cuts starting in August, and sources informed Reuters that the organization will likely refrain from an extension. Saudi Arabia also reportedly placed a strain on Nigeria to improve its compliance. Last week, Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak reiterated that role “We will have a partial resumption of the unprecedented cuts starting from Aug. 1.”
Russia’s oil exports to Europe came to a two-decade low. Russia is about to reduce oil exports to Europe to just 900,000 BPD in July, the lowest stage to Europe since 1999, as supplies from somewhere else continue to benefit from its shortage. U.S. oil has gained a foothold. U.S Shale oil producers have been faced with tightened credit by banks which could hurt the oil production capacity of the United States.
There is also talk of Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait restarting production. Traders believe if supply comes back from these areas, prices cannot reach the $50 mark. Venezuela’s oil production declined by 32%. Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A’s oil production fell through 32 percent to 422,000 BPD in June, the sixth consecutive month of declines. Political tensions are responsible for these losses in the Latin American country.
With lockdowns easing, it was also noted that the second-most populous country in the world has picked up demand in fuel. India’s fuel demand has begun to pick up the pace. Coronavirus continues to spread in India; however, gasoline demand rises as people begin economic activities.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote on renewable energy replacing oil. According to Moody, the pandemic might have hastened the power transition. “COVID-19 lockdown experience of reduced commuting and business travel, alongside better air quality and family time, may deliver lasting changes in energy consumption”, as written in a report by Moody.
READ MORE: Nigeria’s non-oil exports increase by 100%
Considering the long-term economic harm, those adjustments may want to accelerate the shift far from fossil fuels. The EIA corroborates this shift by stating to achieve the goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, the world will require a substantial acceleration in clean energy innovation. In the short term, The Energy Information Administration also increased its price outlook for Brent crude to $41 per barrel for H2 of 2020—this is four dollars higher than their forecast last month.
The rationale behind this upward trajectory is the “EIA expects high inventory levels and surplus crude oil production capacity will limit upward price pressures in the coming months, but as inventories decline into 2021, those upward price pressures will increase,” as summarized in the EIA’s monthly report.
Total Nigeria caught in the oil demand and lockdown saga
In Q1 2020, the company had recorded a revenue drop of 9.3% to N70.2 billion compared to Q1 2019.
The year 2020 was supposed to be a good one for the global oil and gas industry. Save for the unprecedented fangs of the Covid-19 pandemic, the IEA had forecasted in February that the global oil demand would grow by 825,000 barrels a day in 2020. On the contrary, lockdown measures restraining travel and other economic activities to contain the pandemic in many parts of the world had global oil demand down around 90,000 barrels a day from 2019. While the upstream sector had a direct hit owing to this reduced demand, the impact of the pandemic on the downstream oil industry caused the price of crude oil to fall significantly in a short period of time. GlobalData had forecasted that the energy sector would face downward earnings revisions of 208% in 2020.
With the pandemic leading to a slowdown in a wide range of business and personal travel, even gasoline demand had reduced and this has led to inventory challenges in both the distribution network as well as the refineries. In Nigeria, following the challenges of the pandemic, the federal government deregulated the downstream sector of the oil industry through the removal of fuel subsidy. While it presents a level playing field for the downstream oil private sector, it didn’t take long before companies like Total Nigeria plc. started caving into the overall reduction in inventory from the reduced demand for oil products in Q2 2020. Consequently, the company witnessed a 45% reduction in inventories from N33.6 billion as at 31st December 2019 to N18.5 at the end of Q2 2020.
How the exogenous shocks affected an already ailing Total Nigeria
The success or failure of any organization depends on both the macroeconomic environment as well as the operations of the company itself. For Total Nigeria, the timing for the crisis had been off as it too had operational challenges to deal with. In Q1 2020, the company had recorded a revenue drop of 9.3% to N70.2 billion compared to Q1 2019. While the headwinds of the pandemic might have played a small role in the decline at least in the latter part of the quarter, the loss after tax of N163 million it had recorded was 65.6% better than the loss after tax of the comparative quarter – a testament of the series of operational challenges it had from huge loans to raging expenses. While the company had set off on a strategic trajectory deploying a series of initiatives around cost efficiency, process optimization, as well as a significant reduction of working capital requirement and finance costs, Q2 had its own troubles waiting.
Restrictions in the oil market had led to weaknesses across product lines. Total revenue fell by as much as 50% from N73 billion in Q2 2019 to N36.5 billion in Q2 2020. Revenues from petroleum products had contracted by 55.7% while lubricant sales also fell by 26.7% in the quarter. Across the company’s core business sectors comprising Networks, General Trade, and Aviation, revenue from aviation experienced the most decline, falling by 83.0%. Its performance can be predominantly attributed to the fall in demand owing to strict lockdown measures even in major Nigerian cities.
The outcome of the company’s internal and external challenges is a loss after tax of N373.9 million from N604 million in Q2 2019 – an alarming drop of 161.9%. However, its strategic intent is also visible. Net cash balance was a negative N19.6 billion at the end of the quarter, compared to negative N41.8 billion a year ago. Finance costs also declined by 76.1% to N830.3 million as the company sought to reduce its leverage position. In the same vein, borrowings came at N31.0 billion in Q2 2020 as opposed to the N39.9 billion in Q2 2019. Yet, the success of the company in the immediate future is somewhat bleak.
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This is because of the conditions of the oil market and overall economic landscape which is set to take a few years before returning to the norm as well as the financial and operational position of the company. That said, its earnings per share (EPS) of N4.37 and its price-to-earnings ratio of 18.12, reveal that the company has a good potential to make a rebound. However, it could take a few years. Hence, investors must be willing to wait for the long term. With its share price of N79.10 at the far bottom of its 52-week range of N78 and N129.50, it’s a great time to purchase its shares if you are willing to wait the long term.
Implications of CBN’s latest devaluation and FX unification
This move portends significant implications for Nigeria’s public and private sector.
The CBN devalued the naira by 5% at the end of last week, adjusting the official exchange rate to N380/$1 in a major move aimed at unifying the multiple exchange rate windows.
Whilst no official confirmation was issued by the apex bank, its website displayed the buying rate of N379/$1 and selling rate of N380/$1. Nigeria is clearly in a new exchange rate territory.
This move portends significant implications for Nigeria’s public and private sectors. Since March when the CBN last depreciated from N307/$1 to N360/$1, there have been calls for further depreciation to at least close the gap between the official CBN rate and the more market-friendly NAFEX exchange rate. The NAFEX rate has traded between N385-390 in recent weeks.
For the federal government, devaluing the naira solves two major issues:
- Firstly, it increases the amount available to share from the Federal Allocation (FAAC) between the FG and States.
- Oil proceeds, which is a major source of revenue sharing for the government is deposited at the CBN and then converted to naira using the official exchange rate of N360/$1. The CBN’s latest devaluation suggests more money for the government as the conversion rate is now N379/$1.
- Government taxes that are priced in forex but converted to naira also stand to gain a major earnings boost.
- Custom duties, petroleum profit taxes, and other charges will now be converted at an exchange rate of N379/$1 or whatever new rate the CBN chooses, assuming it will work within the NAFEX band.
- A second issue the solves is the condition precedent towards obtaining a $3 billion world bank loan. The government applied for a world bank loan as part of its N2.3 trillion stimulus expected to be injected into the economy.
- It is understood that a unification of the exchange rate is critical to the disbursement of the loan.
Whilst these are positives, the government will record cost escalations for some if not all of its capital projects and expenditure. From vehicle purchases to furniture and fittings we should expect a spike except the contracts are fixed-priced.
The impact of the latest devaluation will also be significant for the private sector.
- While the private sector has recorded its own devaluation via the NAFEX and more recently the SMIS window, the impact of the CBN’s latest move will still be felt.
- Most private pubic partnership projects, contracts are priced using the CBN official exchange rate. The price will now change to N379/$1 at the least.
- The latest move could also lead to a reopening of forex sale to BDC’s which the CBN suspended in March as the Covid-19 pandemic ensued.
- Sectors such as Power, Downstream Oil and Gas where the government has control over pricing will be significantly affected by the new price.
- An example if fuel prices. With the exchange rate devalued again, fuel prices might increase if the impact of the exchange rate is reflected in the pricing template.
NAFEX versus Official Rate
It is not clear how the latest round of devaluation affects the NAFEX rate and other separate rates currently in use by the CBN. Whilst the disparity has been closed somewhat, we still do not know if these windows will be retained or if we will just have two major exchange rate windows, the BDC and the NAFEX.
Most critics of the CBN’s forex policy prefer a uniform exchange rate that is floating or under a managed float system. The difference is that the CBN intervenes occasionally to ensure the exchange rate trades within its preferred band. It does this even if it means burning through its thin reserves.
We expect a string of circulars in the coming days which will perhaps douse some of the confusion providing needed clarity to the exchange rate situation.
Telecoms sector remains resilient as broadband subscriptions climb
Broadband penetration grew to 41.3% in June 2020 from 33.31% in June 2019 and 40.1% in May.
Despite the adverse impact of the global pandemic on various sectors in the economy, the Nigerian telecoms sector has remained resilient. According to recent data on key industry fundamentals published by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the total number of broadband subscriptions grew 23.9% y/y and by 2.8% m/m in June 2020 to 78.8m subscriptions.
Similarly, broadband penetration grew to 41.3% in June 2020 from 33.31% in June 2019 and 40.1% in May. In addition, the number of internet subscribers continued to grow in June 2020, up 1.8% m/m and 17.2% y/y to 143.7m subscribers. We believe the m/m uptick in broadband penetration could be due to gradual reopening of the economy.
We recall that subscriptions declined on a m/m basis in April but showed recovery in May & June, reflecting the resilience of the sector. Industry players in the telecommunications sector continue to invest heavily in internet infrastructure in a bid to improve 4G LTE coverage across the country. Heightened competition among industry players for market share has also forced bundle prices lower, making internet usage very attractive to the average Nigerian.
With the advent of the global pandemic, we believe the growing use of digital channels for daily routine activities ranging from telecommuting, entertainment and social engagement bodes well for continued growth in internet penetration. This will be further supported by increasing smartphone penetration, favourable country demographics and a fledgling social media culture. Nevertheless, we believe the sector still requires more investment to bring it at par with more developed climes. With internet penetration still below 50% (39.58% as at April 2020), we think significant potential exists for telecom and internet service providers in Nigeria.
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CSL Stockbrokers Limited, Lagos (CSLS) is a wholly owned subsidiary of FCMB Group Plc and is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigeria. CSLS is a member of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.