Thursday – Gas Inventories Plus A Whole Lot More

Lots to talk about today; here are the cliff notes:

  1. (WNR) downgraded again. Another sell rating...that's just mean.
  2. Fear of tropical weather boosted prices yesterday...may continue a bit early.
  3. Stocks that'll play if we get some real tropical weather.
  4. Oil Report was taylor made for the bulls but the gasoline draw was almost entirely a "lumpy" imports event meaning I think it'll run it's course while we mostly stand aside but that tropical weather could make the resumption of the expected downward course in RBOB take a little longer.
  5.  Natural Gas Pre Show: Range is a 70 to 90 Bcf injection. I'm thinking a low end number.
  6. Holdings watch: trades yesterday into OII calls, out of the TSO July puts early
  7. Stocks of Interest: DVN, HAL, and NE (earnings and revenues beat)
  8. Housekeeping Watch: yet another word about subscriptions. I know I promised but there was some confusion. At least I stuck it at the end of the post!

Analyst Flash (of insight) Watch: (WNR) cut to Underperform from Neutral at Credit Suisse. Recall that Deutsche re-initiated coverage with a Sell rating here two days ago. Two big brokers saying it's gone up too far, too fast and that valuations are so bloated they have to go to a SELL, that all too often dusty rating in sellside research. I have to nibble on some puts here and will let you know in comments what and if I'm at but I'd point out that although (WNR) is the 2007 % point gainer (up 141%!!!) and trades at 18.0x forward earnings, (HOC), another fly on the wall in terms of capacity but a $4.3 billion dollar market cap company, has also enjoyed a strong run year to date (+52%) and trades at an even more excessive 18.9x 2008 estimates. I've also noticed in recent days that while 2008 numbers continue to march higher on an almost daily basis, the rate of change is slowing, especially among the smaller caps. In (WNR)'s case their 2008 number actually fell a touch in the last week. Oh what the heck, here's that refiner performance and forward multiple table one more time.refiner-multiple-071807.jpg

Tropical Weather Watch: If you were closely watching natural gas trade yesterday you saw what fear can do. That "fire in a crowded theater" variety of fear I was speaking of in yesterday's post reared it's rally inspiring head and natural gas went from a standstill to close up $0.22 at $6.52. The trigger was an updated report that came out 10 minutes before its usual time of 1:00 EST that showed a tropical wave annotation near Trinidad & Tobago where there hadn't been one just hours before. Put more simply:


The Same Was True Of Gasoline. RBOB, which had gotten a bit of a reprieve a couple of hours earlier with the EIA's oil inventory report (see below), was fairly happy trading up $0.04, a somewhat modest retracement after the hell bent for leather plummet from the mid $2.30s over the last week. Then that picture of tropical waves hit the internet waves and RBOB closed the day up a bear bone shattering $0.0946 at $2.195.

If only we had something that even remotely resembled the picture on the left the move in commodities would have made sense. Instead we had some bunny shaped clouds. But it tells you something about the fear level. This was a tropical wave that NOAA said was unlikely to develop. Imagine if it were a real spinner!

This morning it looks like no less than four tropical waves are moving about in the Atlantic and the tropics and storm fear supported prices are probably going to be intermittantly with us for a while now. These markets can get carried away but I prefer to bet on gas, the natural kind, when I'm asked for storm plays. I'm no more a meteorlogist than I am a geologist and NOAA's textual discription says no development is expected in the next 48 hours which is their standard spiel when they're not too concerned so I've got to go with that for now.

But here are some plays that I like if something wicked Gulf way comes. The explanations are fairly meathead but it's late and you can always pin me down on specifics in the morning.

  • (CHK) - nice and safe onshore, gassy as can be.
  • (KWK), (SWN) - gassy, onshore and rapidly growing but priced that way.
  • (APC) - well diversified, gassy E&P "mini-major" and cheap to boot. Well run as always and management continues to get more believers in the new Anadarko.
  • (COP) - gassier Major, ditto regarding believers in its acquistions.
  • (LNG) - it'll run with gas. I prefer (MCF) which includes an LNG component and a swiftly growing E&P arm but it has no options.
  • (OII) - their one of the ones that'll collect the clean up bill if things go bad.
  • (TSO) - all the benefit of a spike in gasoline and distillates with none of the geographic risk.

The Oil Report Was Just What The Bulls Ordered! At least if you don't look too closely. At 10:31 I wrote: refiners off the table. I had taken out my July (TSO) puts  during the morning's initial downdraft but I held (FTO) into the breach and even went against my own "off the table" statement adding more within an hour of the report (see Holdings Watch below).

  • Crude: Down 500,000 barrels. Pretty much in line with expectations if not a bit of a bigger than expected draw by some accounts. Crude imports rebounded, after last week's strong dip. Interestingly, refining inputs increased (causing the draw) but gasoline output fell slightly as you'll see in a minute.
  • But Gasoline Was The Big Story:

Inventories DOWN A Consensus Stunning 2.3 Million Barrels vs an expectation of a 1 million barrel BUILD. That kind of surprise gets you a rally, especially after the shallacking RBOB took since the last report.

When you break out the numbers you see that while Conventional Gasoline saw a big draw down (see imports next paragraph) reformulated stocks hit their highest level in six weeks.

Imports Caused The Brick. I said in yesterday's piece that gasoline imports would have to stay up. They did not. Imports fell from to 915,000 barrels a day from the prior week's level of 1.423 million barrels. Do that for seven days and you come up with 3.5 million less barrels of gasoline about town! As can be seen in the following chart the drop in imports (highlighted in yellow) looks somewhat suspect but not implausible. Chances are this rebounds but the stat is volatile and it may take more than one week. I just don't think that tankers were suddenly diverted from the U.S. to competing markets like Europe. That pattern would be more gradual. Big drops like this are more likely due to timing and survey methods than empty off-loading moorings at the LOOP.


Production Down Vs Utilization Up. Once again, which is the more important number? I'd say production but I'll say that through thick and thin and not talk production one week when it works for my "cause" and utilization the next when that can be a useful excuse.

  • Utilization Rose More Than Expected up 0.8% to 91% but,
  • Production eased slightly from 9.229 to 9.165 million barrels.

Demand increased to the highest level of the year. At 9.71 mm bpd it wasn't the all time record but it was close. That record goes to the July 4th week two years ago.


Bottom Line: Let the bulls run. We're not running out of gasoline this year (nor oil for that matter) but as one commentor put it so aptly "I've gotten in front of the momentum train before and I'm not playing that game". Exactly my sentiments.

My thoughts on what happens with prices next is very much subject to what happens in the tropics. If there were no external weather related threat I would say the rebound was a normal retracement after a pretty good move to the downside, and with the help of the passage of time, the downward course in RBOB prices will resume. But with the increased threat of tropical disturbances I'm a little less cavalier.

Natural Gas Inventory Pre Show:

  • Consensus: I only saw the 70 to 90 Bcf injection range Nicki reported in comments yesterday.
  • My number: 80 Bcf would be cute of me to say as that's the mid point of that range and probably the over / under level for the report. However, make no mistake, if there is even a hint of tropical action it'll take precedence over any number under 100 Bcf. I'm going with 70 Bcf today. In other words, probably looking a for a bullish number this morning.
    • CDDs.  At 76 this is the seaosn high. This week NOAA is looking for 85 CDDs.
    • Imports were down another 0.5 Bcfgpd week to week, mostly attributable to another slide in pipeline imports from Canada

Holdings Watch


  • (OII) bought August $60s for $0.80. Last bid $0.75.


As to the refiners, we hastily covered our (TSO) puts as the morning's early weakness started to peter out. Other readers on the PSW site came out of (WNR) pre report with monumental gains. It's fun when it works. My (TSO)s were July's and should have been gone days ago.

  • (TSO) sold July $57.50s bought July 5th for a 56% gain.
  • (TSO) sold July $60s bought in late June for a 59% gain.
  • (FTO) bought July $45s in a botched trade for $0.70. It costs to be hasty and I took the wrong month as my system defaulted to the near month. Painful. Last bid: $0.10. Ugghh!!! Maybe I'll luck out with today's downgrade of competitor (WNR) (doubt it) and if so sometimes it's better to be lucky than good but this was sloppy. However, this kind of thing happens. When it does it's discombobulating. I repeat this mantra which helps put these kind of things into perspective: "this is the first trade in the next 1,000 trades I will make." And on we go.

Stocks of Interest Watch:

  • (DVN) announced the formation of a mid-stream master limited partnership or MLP. As I wrote awhile back, form an MLP, win a prize; DVN ended the day up 4%, a big move on a company of this size. FYI, (CHK) has mentioned the possibility of an MLP in recent months. Yet another reason to hang around.
  • (HAL) B of A started the company at Buy after the close. Still holding the July $35s and WILL ROLL FORWARD TODAY. If you don't see me announce a trade in comments early please yell at me!
  • (NE) reported $2.24 (backing out $0.08 charge) after the close vs expecations of $2.14. They beat the top-line handily. I've been saying this for awhile but it's worth repeating. Onshore drillers I'm not so happy with now but these types of guys (offshore with a deep drilling and deepwater concentration) are very insulated from any potential setbacks in commodity prices (not that we've seen any lately).
    • essentially booked on all jack ups for 2007; 65% of 2008 booked.
    • day rates continued to increase and deepwater rates for new rigs are especially strong.

This is another reason to shy away from OIH shorts. Get more choosey as there is a lot of variety in the 15 companies that make up the index and most of them are doing well. Still I know several people who make a decent living trading the range there like clock work and who I am to fault another's profits?!

Odds & Ends

Analyst Watch: Berstain takes (VLO) and (SUN) from market perform to underperform. Brokers again fearful refiners are over-heated. Bof A initiates coverage on most of the big service names with a buy rating.

Housekeeping Watch: I noticed something odd yesterday. The RSS feed count jumped to 175 and was up another 26 this morning to 201. This is not usual activity. I suspect that some folks interested in registering for the site signed up for either RSS or email delivery. That's great but it won't get you on the list for the subscription email since Feedburner does not make that information available to me. If you intended to register for the site you need to click on the Register link way down the right hand column just below the little world map (click on that map too because it's too cool to see where all of you are hitting the site from) or click here  or send me an email at zmanalpha@gmail.com. For those of you who registered and /or wrote kind words I thank you. You'll be receiving an email either Friday or over the weekend with further details. Again, many thanks and have a GREAT day.

61 Responses to “Thursday – Gas Inventories Plus A Whole Lot More”

  1. 1
    Sambone Says:

    Bonny at 81.7, and Brent above 80.

  2. 2
    zman Says:


    oil up $0.65
    rbob up a penny
    ng up a nickel

    HAL being marked up on the buy recs
    NE up on those earnings

    MMR earnings out, not playing but watching.

    WNR taking a trip lower on downgrade but it’s on little volume. Frankly I hope it opens flat so I can jump some August 60 puts. More people starting to look at the refining sector as overheated.

  3. 3
    jimbo Says:

    Latest from http://www.crownweather.com
    “This morning’s Infared Satellite Imagery continues to show two areas of interest this morning in the tropical Atlantic. Area number one is a tropical wave that is interacting with the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. This wave was located in the extreme eastern Caribbean. Shower and thunderstorm activity is fairly limited this morning and wind shear values around this wave have increased since yesterday to 10 to 20 knots. This tropical wave is forecasted to move to the north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti over the next 2 to 3 days where environmental conditions are not very favorable for development. None of the computer forecast guidance forecast tropical cyclone development from this wave and they eventually sweep it north and northeast along a frontal boundary by early next week. It should be noted that this morning’s Canadian Model continues to forecast that this wave will turn into a significant tropical cyclone by late this weekend and early next week before making landfall in New England on Monday. Even though the Canadian model has been fairly consistent in forecasting this, none of the other computer forecast models show this type of scenario. The idea of the Canadian model will be discounted for now as both the GFS model and the NOGAPS model forecasts a non-tropical low to form along a wind shear boundary on Sunday and track north into eastern New England on Monday and Tuesday. My take is that I don’t expect this tropical wave to develop into a tropical cyclone. There is a upper level low to the north of this wave and this will significantly inhibit tropical cyclone development. With that said, I will monitor this system closely and keep you all updated.
    “Area number two of interest is an area of low pressure near the Cape Verde Islands in the far eastern Atlantic. There is no convection whatsoever with the low pressure, however, there is thunderstorm activity to the south of this low pressure system over the Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone. At this point, I do not expect tropical cyclone development from this low pressure system due to the lack of convection, however, if it begins to acquire convection, then it may be something to keep an eye on. In addition to this, there is a tropical wave now coming off of the coast of Africa. The reason I mention this is because the GFS model forecasts this wave to turn into some sort of a tropical system out near 40 West Longitude by next Thursday. It is something that I am going to keep an eye on and keep you all updated”

  4. 4
    zman Says:

    Thanks fellas.

    crownweather.com eh? that’s pretty good and will go on the weather tab. I like the text as least as much as the pretty pictures.

  5. 5
    Dave Says:

    NG storage projections I’ve seen range from 55 to 69….a good bit below the 70 to 90 mentioned above.

  6. 6
    Dave Says:

    The Canadian model mentioned above is notorious for developing tropical systems where there is nothing. It should stick to blizzard forecasts. Concur with the rest of it….conditions are improving….gulf of mexico waters are very warm if anything can get there.

  7. 7
    zman Says:

    Dave – so I went from the low end of the range to the high in one fell swoop? Where did you see that range?

  8. 8
    codydog Says:

    Does phil realize there are a ton of cftc regs that define how fcms are allowed to advertise? if his comments were judged a solicitation, there are some who would have an issue with his comments.

  9. 9
    Dave Says:

    From a commodities email I was just reading:

    I was reminded of a story I had heard about a well known owner of a then international grain company. He supposedly said, “Over the last two years we have spent two million dollars to determine there is not a weather man around that can tell you what the weather will be the day after tomorrow.”

  10. 10
    Dave Says:

    those estimates are from a couple of large financial institutions with gas trading desks.

  11. 11
    zman Says:

    Cody – I’m not following. Which comments?

    Dave – no doubt! ok, thanks. I think that big drop from last week would obviously be a bit bullish combined with the bottoming action Flynn is talking about. In looking at my number last night on the CDDs with no support from imports vs two weeks ago when you saw a 78 Bcf injection I went kind of high. The way I look at no way do we get as much as 75. More like 60 to 70. Again, short term bullish I’d think. Anybody here the CNBC point consensus estimate this morning. I’m still boycotting them.

    TRADE: (HAL) Out 4x July call position on as promised. Probably left a little on the table but I won’t kick myself as it had a day left and I lucked out with an average gain of 36%.

  12. 12
    Dave Says:

    From yet another bank……

    “The market is expecting anywhere from an injection of 52 Bcf to 90 Bcf. Bloomberg’s survey came in at 67 Bcf, and we’re calling for a 72 Bcf injection.”

  13. 13
    zman Says:

    Refiners puking up yesterday’s gasoline import slump / tropical fear begotten gains. With a little bit of luck I take care of my FTO problem with less pain.

    WNR getting roasted, down 5%

    Thanks Dave…now I’m in line.

  14. 14
    zman Says:

    OII rallying a bit.

    NBR figuring out that it’s not NE.

  15. 15
    codydog Says:

    z– this comment from phil seems to be a regulatory minefield. When people start losing dough, the regulators have a funny way of re-visiting stuff they were silent on before–

    Are you finally ready to buy oil yet feel you need some advice? Don’t fall for the line of some energy guy who is a bullish come lately. Call the guy who was bullish before bullish was cool! Call Phil Flynn at 800-935-6487 or email me at pflynn@alaron.com and get hooked up on my daily email blast which will include expanded coverage of all the different commodities markets as well as more strategies on oil and intermediate profit taking areas as well. We will be adding option plays too!! Also you will get a free trial to the much beloved Alaronenergies web site that includes natural gas and weather futures as well as breaking energy news!! What are you waiting for… Peak oil for heavens sakes?!

  16. 16
    jimbo Says:

    Z….what’s your take on LNG shipping. I’ve been following GLNG MCX TGP GMR and GASS. Looking for decent dividend and low payout ratio….good P/B and PEG. Seems if crude corrects before NG, it would be a great time for LNG shipping and anything else gassy.

  17. 17
    john Says:

    on the investors village website…the message board for Clayton-Williams.there is poster-robry85-who really gives great posting on gas storage numbers, this individual has been posting for sometime. I first saw him on the yahoo boards@clayton-williams but when they changed he moved over to the investor’s village board. He has 68bcf for this week.

  18. 18
    zman Says:

    Cody – Oh, I thought you were talking about Phil at PSW. You had me worried.

    Notice he says not to pay attention to others who are johnny come latelies to energy in one breath and in the next he’s adding options. I can see who comes to the sight and his minions are here every day. Seems kind of ironic. What a used car salesman. Sorry if I offended any used car salesmen with that.

  19. 19
    zman Says:

    Jimbo – GLNG and TGP have had good runs and last I checked traded in the mid 20x range on 08 earnings. I like TGP better of the two but haven’t had time to do the DD yet. Obviously they’re going to be nothing but busier and busier but I saw China just launched it’s first lng tanker and if they put a big push on building and shipping gas from some of their recent big discoveries or just bringing it in for their own use it could put a crimp on charter rates. The others I have not looked at but plan to. Thanks.

  20. 20
    codydog Says:

    z– is this any help to you?


  21. 21
    zman Says:

    Looking at CHK and APC if the number is big bullish which I guess is around 65 number.

  22. 22
    Sambone Says:

    Watching 15N,64W – Shear low
    Action in Western GOMEX broken up last night.

  23. 23
    zman Says:

    Cody – yes thanks! Also, if bullish the other usual suspects, not necessarily which ever runs last either. Lately early strength has gotten stronger and laggards only get a partial move.

    USO looking toppy, ng sideways pre #.

  24. 24
    zman Says:

    65 bcf

  25. 25
    jimbo Says:

    Is there something holding back Comstock (CRK)? Purchased this on decent fundamentals, but it’s not running with other onshore players. Below the radar?

  26. 26
    zman Says:

    Jimbo – I want to hold that into earnings on Aug 6. Their cost containment has been phenomenal, growing nicely yet they’ve been falling off lately. I’m watching very closely and need to do a little digging there but I like it. May be under the radar

  27. 27
    zman Says:

    TRADE: took EOG 75 July (on purpose) calls post number for a day trade. nothing else done.

  28. 28
    codydog Says:

    z–i bot some chk outright at 36.87 post # and will scale out above 37 depending on momentum, very tight stop in case it all rolls over

  29. 29
    jimbo Says:

    Any word on Sandridge Energy (SD) IPO? CHK CEO is Chairman. Should be a great long term hold.

    RE: LNG shippers….bought GLNG. 9.8% dividend, 34% payout. Next stop: dry bulk shipping.

  30. 30
    zman Says:

    Refiners near LOD

    Cody – hear ya tight stops!

    Jimbo – no but I’ll look at it. When’s it coming? Management team is largely former CHK and other talent from COP. Tom Ward is no slouch!

  31. 31
    zman Says:

    Natural gas profit taking. Where’s a good tropical wave when you need one?

    TSO looks lower. Berstein must have already had the other refiners as sells if they’re picking on VLO.

  32. 32
    zman Says:

    N- promising as a tank day or promising as in going higher?

  33. 33
    zman Says:

    DOOHHHH. Well that’s good for about 1/2 my plays right now.

  34. 34
    scoop006 Says:

    Z Do you think ZPYGO is worth a shot?

  35. 35
    zman Says:

    Scoop- July $75 Calls. Highly risky. It might work but we’re a day out of opex so you only have today and the first 2 hours tomorrow before they pin it $75 which I’d bet is likely. Still, if I was going to buy one it would be VLO. I understand the leverage is great with the extreme short game but my track record is not so good that way, witness my EOG trade earlier. 🙁

  36. 36
    scoop006 Says:

    do you WNR has fallen to fast and might rebound ?

  37. 37
    zman Says:

    Scoop – Re WNR – oh it could get a little bounce but in general no. Too far too fast applies to a good chunk of the 135% or so it is still up year to date. It’s obviously pricey to the group and while the little guys often get a premium this is rich. I won’t be taking a bounce play there and if I miss it, oh well.

  38. 38
    scoop006 Says:

    Z-Thanks very much for your replies as I know you’re quite busy. It just seems to me these stocks are moving +-+- and there might be an opportunity. However I defer to the master.

  39. 39
    zman Says:

    Who’s busy. Nahhh. Master? Naaaahhhhh! I just think if you’re going to take one on the long side take VLo. But I’m not doing that either right now.

    TSO looks bad on the minute chart, bad on the daily chart. Could go back below $55 heute abend.

  40. 40
    Brian08 Says:

    Z good call on that WNR play from earlier…Had my bid in on the PUTS at $3.40 and was hoping for your flat opening…Unfortunately it didn’t happen and everytime I pull those PUTS up on my screen I want to cry…Looked at the HOC 75s too and those got away from me…Boy this options game is so fun!!

  41. 41
    zman Says:

    whatsomatta RBOB? no storms? no fundamental basis for it to be up here?

  42. 42
    zman Says:

    I was just looking at that! My thoughts too.

    Nat gas starting to rally. Anyone see an updated weather map? It’s about that time of day.

  43. 43
    zman Says:

    yup, the 1:00 pm weather map is out earlier and that image looks more beastly.


  44. 44
    zman Says:

    betya RBOB gets a bounce when they see the natural gas guys celebrating! refiners could get a small bounce here. I’ll use to add puts, not as a bounce play, if it HOC or WNR try to firm.

  45. 45
    Sambone Says:

    Wow, this one near Puerto Rico is really building.
    Check out the pressure.
    A ways to go, BUT?

  46. 46
    zman Says:

    S – that’s a concern.

  47. 47
    zman Says:

    amazed at the resilience of FTO to the rest of the group giving up most of yesterday’s reflex rally. TSO looking weaker still…

  48. 48
    scoop006 Says:

    Z How did you do on your EOG trade today
    I just sold my HALGG @ 1.50 based on your recc. Thanks again. U THE MAN!!!

  49. 49
    zman Says:

    EOG – In at $1, watching at $1.20

    Your very welcome!

  50. 50
    scoop006 Says:

    Z Some Free advise please. Holding 20 TSOSZ in @ $1.80. Sell now or hold for Friday action?

  51. 51
    Joe Says:

    Z et al – I know this is an energy board, so apologies in advance for asking this question (I just really appreciate all the great dialogue this forum offers).

    Is anyone shorting goog today with earnings released tonight. I don’t play tech at all, but follow goog as general indicator.

    Z – I promise I won’t ask a non-related energy question again 🙂

  52. 52
    codydog Says:

    goog had a buy pivot point at 11.45am and a sell at 1.50pm, so I’m sold out on my 560 calls, just to close for me to play more…………

  53. 53
    zman Says:

    Scoop 1) when in doubt sell half, 2) who knows what Friday may bring, that’s a 50/50 call. Just my two cents. FWIW, it looks lower to me but the risk of a storm developing tonight at least says take some profits to me. Those are the ones I dumped yesterday morning and you’ve only got a dime of premium left so I guess at least its not as bad as IV collapsing with pinning action. You might ask one of the in house meteorologist how the skies look.

    Joe – nonsense. It’s a slow day anyway. I’m just letting positions work right now. Ask away. I’m not playing this earnings as my wife owns it at $170 in here IRA and I can’t live down the dinner table talk with the extended family if I lose on it!

    Thanks Cody.

  54. 54
    zman Says:


    FTO must have bought the right GOOG options. 😉

  55. 55
    Joe Says:

    Thanks Scoop

    Z – “FTO must have bought the right GOOG options.” Thanks for the laugh.

  56. 56
    zman Says:

    EOG @ HOD. Energy looks like it’s getting caught in a broad market rally.

  57. 57
    scoop006 Says:

    Any opinions what is holding FTO up?

  58. 58
    zman Says:

    Scoop – they know I have puts? No idea but the refiners are all rallying with USO and an after market move in crude.

    People are very nervous or exuberant (if that’s your style) about hurricane season potentially getting started.

  59. 59
    scoop006 Says:

    Z Put my TSOSZ on Black and hoping for a refinery down Frida. Thanks for your time.

  60. 60
    zman Says:

    Hope Joe had those GOOG puts. Ouch.

  61. 61
    Joe Says:

    Got busy at the office and didn’t have a chance to go short. Another missed opportunity.

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