The ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict that sent the global crude oil prices over $100 per barrel on February 24, could turn into a bumper quarter for India’s oil and gas producers in the March quarter, say analysts.
Global crude oil soared over 6 percent to hit their seven-year high of $103.75 per barrel in Europe after Russia launched a military operation in Ukraine. Ukraine termed Russia’s action as a “full-scale” war while US President termed Russia’s move as “unprovoked”.
Russia is a major supplier of crude oil and traders fear that sanctions on the country could severely restrict its shipments leading to further tightness in an already tight crude oil market. US President Biden said that the US will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia soon.
Global crude oil prices have risen 29 percent so far in 2022 due to the Ukraine-Russia crisis, surging global demand, and restricted supplies. The reaction in natural gas prices in Europe was even more pronounced as prices soared 25 percent earlier in the day on fears of restricted supplies from Russia.
The surge in global crude oil prices and natural gas prices is a boon for state-owned Indian producers Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Oil India. Dayanand Mittal of JM Financial Services expects ONGC’s March quarter earnings per share to rise 20-30 percent on a sequential basis aided by the rise in oil prices.
The country’s largest oil producer reported a 220 percent year-on-year rise in consolidated net profit to Rs 11,637 crore for the quarter ended December aided by higher average crude oil realisations and the rise in domestic gas prices.
Similarly, analysts expect a 15-20 percent jump in earnings per share of Oil India in the current quarter on similar grounds. Oil India’s net profit rose 37 percent in the December quarter as average crude oil realisation soared 78 percent to $78.6 per barrel.
While the March quarter may result in bumper earnings for the oil producers, analysts have raised concerns over the production trajectory of the company. ONGC reported a 3.9 percent on-year decline in sales volumes to 5.1 million tonne.
“We note, ONGC’s stock price more than fully factors elevated crude prices sustaining over the medium term, while ignoring its uninspiring production track record despite a sustained rise in capex and operating costs and limited cash generation given inefficient capital allocation,” brokerage firm Kotak Institutional Equities had said in a note post the company’s Q3 earnings.
Kotak Equities has retained its ‘sell’ rating on the stock despite noting the benefits of higher crude oil and natural gas prices for the company as its operating profit assumptions for ONGC by 2-19 percent for the next two years.
That said, investment bank Goldman Sachs in a note in January had said that global crude oil prices could remain higher for longer due to demand-supply imbalances in the crude oil market. Goldman Sachs expects oil prices to be above $100 per barrel in 2023 suggesting that even if current prices cool off they will eventually head higher.
At 2:05 pm, shares of ONGC were down 1.4 percent at Rs 158.50 on the National Stock Exchange, outperforming the 3.5 percent fall in the Nifty 50. Shares of Oil India were, however, up 0.8 percent at Rs 222.3.
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