Don't be lulled by the production "freezes" recently announced by the squabbling members of the OPEC oil cartel. These vague agreements may move the markets, but as the energy sector continues to hemorrhage, Saudi Arabia and its fellow producers only seem capable of providing band-aid solutions. The once-mighty group's ineffectual attempts to boost prices increasingly reek of desperation, while the global oil glut continues to worsen.
So let's put aside false optimism and face an unalterable fact: energy prices may have further to fall before they hit bottom. However, if you're still yearning to make a bullish bet on energy, the refining stock below fits the bill. It's among a group of growth-and-income stocks that's positioned to beat the market this year, while also delivering high dividends.
It's not just the energy patch that's vulnerable. The Royal Bank of Scotland recently predicted that overall market conditions would be "cataclysmic" this year. The advice: "Sell everything."
Rest assured, not everyone shares this dire assessment. However, even if RBS is only partly correct, you need to look for defensive growth stocks that can provide both share price momentum and safety. Take a look at Dallas-based refiner HollyFrontier Corp. (HFC) - Get Report . With a strong dividend yield of 4.29%, HollyFrontier is a growth stock that also belongs in your dividend portfolio.
HollyFrontier is scheduled to release fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 earnings on Wednesday, February 24.
For 2015, the Wall Street consensus calls for HollyFrontier's revenues to reach about $12.9 billion, a year-over-year decline of 35%. This drop is to be expected, in light of the energy sector's duress in 2015.
But here's why HollyFrontier shines through the energy sector's gloom: The company's higher refining margins are expected to lift the bottom line. The analyst consensus expects HollyFrontier to report adjusted earnings-per-share (EPS) of $4.80 in 2015, a whopping increase of 76% over its adjusted EPS in 2014.
HollyFrontier's business model allows it to prosper, regardless of energy prices, and it's positioned to be one of the few survivors this year of the carnage in the energy patch. In the meantime, the oil and gas price collapse has been merciless for the major exploration and production (E&P) companies.
HollyFrontier's stock now trades at about $31, with the analyst consensus calling for a median one-year price target of $48, for a gain of 54.8%. On the high end, analysts are calling for a one-year target of $60, for a gain of 93.5%.
Compare HollyFrontier's price targets to those for E&P giants Chevron (median projected one-year gain of about 7.1%) and Exxon Mobil (median gain of 0.6%), and even to refining peer ValeroEnergy (31.1%).
HollyFrontier is an independent petroleum refiner and marketer that produces high-value light products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, and jet fuel. To understand why HollyFrontier is a safe income-generating haven amid the energy sector's severe decline, we need to examine the spread between West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent North Sea Crude.
WTI is now selling at about $31.70 per barrel; Brent at about $33.20. This spread should widen even further as U.S. domestic production remains swamped in a massive glut, further pushing down the cost of U.S. crude inputs. HollyFrontier is particularly adept at leveraging this price differential.
HollyFrontier buys WTI as input, but pegs the price of its products to the more costly Brent. The cheaper WTI becomes in relation to Brent, the higher the margins reaped by refiners such as HollyFrontier.
HFC markets its refined products mostly in the Southwest U.S., the Rocky Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. Each of HollyFrontier's refineries boasts the most advanced refining equipment, allowing the company to convert heavy and sour crude inputs into value-added refined products such as gasoline and diesel. HollyFrontier also benefits from its geographical proximity to North American shale fields, with its existing network of pipelines and rail.
The stock's trailing 12-month (TTM) price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio is 10.06, lower than the industry's TTM P/E of 11.60 and even lower than Exxon Mobil's 21.18. HollyFrontier is a great buy now, especially ahead of an earnings report that will probably cheer analysts and investors.
As we've just explained, HollyFrontier is a high-dividend paying stock that should also confer healthy capital appreciation. If you'd like to learn about a group of high-quality, high-yield income opportunities that are far too ignored by most investors, I urge you to check out this free presentation: 11% Yields and No Taxes. Inside, you'll learn about one of the greatest gifts to income investors in the last century, and how you can begin taking advantage of it today for your portfolio. Click here now to learn more.
John Persinos is editorial manager and investment analyst at Investing Daily. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.