Let’s see why.
The Headline Numbers
Continental Resources’ revenue is expected to decline just over 7% in the first quarter of 2019 to $1.06 billion. Its earnings per share are expected to decline from $0.68 per share a year ago to $0.47 this time.
But it won’t be surprising to see Continental Resources coming out on top and beating these estimates when it delivers results. That’s because the company expects to deliver an increase in its average oil production this year.
Continental Resources forecasts full-year average oil production of 190,000 to 200,000 barrels per day. For comparison, the company clocked average daily production of 168,177 barrels per day in 2018. The mid-point of Continental’s oil production guidance suggests that its production could rise around 16% in 2019.
The average WTI crude oil spot price at the end of March stood at almost $64 per barrel. That’s better than the average realized price of just under $59 a barrel that Continental had recorded in the year-ago period. As such, there’s a great chance that Continental’s results will be above expectations, and if that happens, investors can expect the stock to get a shot in the arm and rise higher.
The Way Ahead Looks Bright
We have already seen that Continental Resources expects an impressive increase in its production this year, though that’s not the only positive that investors should be looking at. The company has set aside a capital expenditure budget of $2.6 billion for the year, down from last year’s outlay of $2.8 billion.
As such, Continental is on track to increase its production in an efficient manner in 2019, which should allow it to boost the cash flow in light of an improving oil price scenario.
Continental Resources is looking at an average annual free cash flow of $500 million a year at an oil price of $60 a barrel. Now that WTI oil is trading well above that level, Continental Resources should be able to achieve its target going forward.
Also, the oil price rally looks all set to continue given the tight supply conditions globally, as well as improving oil demand in key markets such as China. As it turns out, China’s crude oil imports are expected to rise this year on the back of economic stimulus and demand from teapot refiners.
So it won’t be surprising to see Continental Resources eventually beat analysts’ estimates this year, who are originally anticipating a decline in both revenue and earnings. This will be good news for Continental Resources investors as they can expect the stock to keep rising because of its improving financial performance.
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