Loading Up On Linn Energy

You can pay up to $17 a unit for (LINN) and have a good chance of making a quick, snapback profit.

All of a sudden, everyone I know in Texas, and there are quite a few of them, called to tell me to buy Linn Energy, all within the space of one hour. I summarize their diverse comments below.

We have reached a margin call induced capitulation sell off in Linn Energy this morning, when oil was trading as low as $64 a barrel at the European opening.

There were obviously also a couple of leveraged energy and commodity funds that blew up and are undergoing forced liquidation at the market.

Add to that all the individuals who bought (LINN) on margin when the yield was only 8% so they would take 16% home to the bank.

This has taken the price of the units down to an artificial, and hopefully temporary, low of $15.90. At that price, the yield was a mind blowing 17% (after all, this is California).

It was a classic ?Throwing out the baby with the bathwater? moment. (LINN) gets 54% of its $1.6 billion in revenues from natural gas, which has held up remarkably well in the energy melt down, thanks to the early arrival of the polar vortex this winter.

Only 22% of its income derives from oil related projects, and half of this is hedged in the futures market from any downside exposure in the price of oil, according to the company?s recent pronouncements. Linn has actually plunged more than oil from its recent peak.

Does a loss on 10% of its revenues justify a gut wrenching 50% drop in the units? I think not.

But then, I am being rational and analytical, and I can assure you that the energy markets are now anything but rational and analytical.

Its not like oil is going to stay this low forever. Try to buy oil for delivery in the futures market two years out, and it has already recovered to $75/barrel, and there is very little available at that price.

What happens when the price of something goes down? Demand increases, and that will be good for Linn Energy, which is inherently more of a volume play on gas and oil, not a price play.

Keep also in mind that the absurd salaries the company was paying for workers in the Midwest has also vaporized. Roustabouts can now be had for as little as $75,000 a year compared to $200,000 only six months ago. This will cut (LINN)?s costs quickly and flow straight to the bottom line.

Falling costs and rising volumes sound like a winning formula to me.

And if you have the courage to buy the units here on margin, the yield rockets to a breathtaking 34%. It therefore can?t stay this low for long.

Linn Energy, LLC is an independent oil and natural gas company based in Houston, Texas. It holds oil and gas producing assets in many parts of the United States: Mid-Continent, including properties in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma; the Hugoton Basin in Kansas; the Green River Basin in Wyoming; East Texas; California, including the Brea-Olinda Oil Field in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; the Williston/Powder River Basin, which includes a position in the Bakken Formation; Michigan/Illinois; and the Permian Basin in Texas.

At the end of 2012, the firm reported proved reserves of 4,796 bcfe (billion cubic feet equivalent) of oil and gas combined. Of this total, 24% was crude oil, 54% natural gas, and 22% natural gas liquids.

Structured as a master limited partnership for tax purposes, the firm is required to pay out most of its cash reserve to unitholders (stockholders) each quarter as distributions, thereby ducking the double taxation of corporate taxation.

However Linn retains some attributes of a limited liability corporation, including giving voting rights to its unitholders. Linn Energy also operates a subsidiary, LinnCo, a C Corporation, which is subject to different tax rules from its parent company.

All we have to do is survive the near term volatility and Linn Energy will be a winner.


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LINN Energy