Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts suggest that for refineries, a loss in demand for energy products may be greater than production shortfalls as some Eastern Seaboard refineries go off line.
Phillips 66 (PSX) and Hess (HES) have shuttered large Northeast refineries for storm-related assessments, while regional Philadelphia Energy Solutions refineries remain open. Still, the analysts say Sandy won't help much. Valero (VLO) is the only "buy"-rated refinery.
"Demand likely the bigger risk," Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said of the storm's impact. "The East Coast accounts for roughly 30% of total U.S. demand, and we expect this to come under pressure in coming weeks given school and work closures, combined with 20% of all U.S. flights cancelled."
In spite of power outages that reached in excess of 8 million customers across 17 states, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts don't see a susbstantial earnings loss for major regional utilities like FirstEnergy (FE), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG), Exelon (EXC) and Con Edison (ED)."The two biggest issues for utilities from major storms are lost sales and storm costs," notes Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts. "We expect outages will last around a week on average, resulting in lost sales for the utilities. However, for the most part, we do not expect this to be a significant earnings loss." Still, investors should watch for any political or regulatory fallout, the bank said. In the airline sector, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts calculate U.S. airlines may have lost $500 million in revenue and $100 million in profits, and highlights JetBlue (JBLU), US Airways (LCC) and Delta (DAL) as carriers most exposed to the Northeast. The Street reported New York's LaGuardia airport may reopen on Thursday, while select flights are scheduled for Kennedy Airport and Newark of New Jersey. "Given advanced warning, airline operations should recover quicker than normal," Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote in its assessment of Sandy's impact on airlines, which highlights that the sector's relatively strong earnings may continue in spite of flight cancellations.
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