SM Energy's CEO Presents At Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference (Transcript)

SM Energy (SM)

Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference

September 6, 2012, 1:05 p.m. ET


Anthony J. Best – CEO, President, Director and Member of Executive Committee


Unidentified Analyst



Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by and welcome to the **** First Quarter Fiscal 2008 results conference call. (Operator Instructions)

Unidentified Representative

We'd like to get started with our next presentation. I'm pleased to welcome SM Energy to our conference this year. With us for the presentation for SM is Tony Best, the company's president and CEO, and I'll turn it over to Tony.

Anthony J. Best

Thank you, Jeff. It is again a pleasure to be here at Barclay's conference this year. And it's a pleasure to provide you with an SM Energy update.

This is again another strong year performance for our company, exciting time to be with SM Energy. And with that, let's get started.

In my presentation today, there may be a couple of forward-looking statements. So let me provide the appropriate cautionary language, which is also in the slides that we provided for you.

For those of you that are not all that familiar with our company, let me give you just a brief profile of SM Energy. First of all, we're traded on the New York Stock Exchange under ticker symbol SM. We're going to be back in New York in a couple weeks. It's going to be kind of an exciting time. We've got our board meetings. But we're also going to ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to celebrate our tenth anniversary on the exchange, so looking forward to coming back in a few weeks.

In terms of share price at the end of August, we were somewhere around $47. I think as you had seen our press release that came out yesterday, we've had a nice uptick. So today, I'm pleased to say that share price is up about $5 more at ground $52. Market Cap is also gone up nicely as a result of that. And we're now about $3.4 billion Market Cap again as a result of that uptick.

On the financial side, presently we've got almost $1 billion of liquidity. So plenty of drive powder to fund our program going forward.

Debt to Book Cap is around 43%, so rather modest compared to the peer group. And debt to trailing EBITDA is about 1.2 turns. So again, strong balance sheet.

Operationally, second quarter, we produced almost 8.5 million barrels of oil equivalent. And our production mix is around 44%. Liquids today for the year, we expect to see that going to 45% liquids, 55% dry gas. And then within the next couple of years, we expect to be pretty evenly balanced at 50/50 between liquids and dry gas.

In terms of crude reserves, we have about 210 million barrels of oil equivalent as of the end of last year. And from a proved development standpoint, that stands at 67%. For those of you not intimately familiar with SM, there's a couple of metrics to provide a little profile for you.

Let's talk about our fundamental strategy. At SM Energy, we are focused on resource play opportunities in North America. And as we pursue that strategy, our focus is on organic growth. We focus on early resource capture, which means you have to get out early. You have to do a lot of technical work. You have to establish a position before many of our competitors jump into some of these plays. We've had some excellent success over the last four or five years building the portfolio that we're now leveraging to grow this company.

At the present time with this year's program, we operate 90% of what is funded by our CapEx program this year. And we like to control the pace and spend with the development of these new plays. For us it's not about growth for growth's sake. First thing, we focus on our returns with our projects. And as the quality of our inventory has continued to improve, those returns, those high returns on our projects is what is steeling the growth that we're now enjoying.

And then as I mentioned earlier, one of our legacy traits is to maintain a very strong balance sheet. And certainly that is the case today. I'll share some additional information on our balance sheet here shortly. In addition to leverage on our balance sheet, to fund our program, we've also been very active in terms of selling some of our non-strategic assets over the last four or five years. And in fact until last year, we had sold over $600 million of non-strategic assets. And last year alone, we announced over $1 billion in transactions including our joint venture with Mitsui.

We'll get right into it. If you take a look at the centerpiece of our program this year, it's not a surprise. It's the Eagle Ford. Let me start with our operated Eagle Ford position. Here you can see this shown in yellow with our acreage block in south Texas. At the present time, we operate almost about 150,000 net acres in the play. And as you can see from the map, we're positioned very nicely in the rich gas window. So there's very few dry gas wells that we have to drill in our current position.

This was news yesterday as we put out our press release, in July, we announced that we had averaged 230 million cubic feet a day equivalent. And that's up from 207 million cubic feet per day, which was the average for the second quarter. And we had received a lot of inquiries especially at the end of the second quarter during our call and press release regarding our operating production in Eagle Ford. We felt it was timely especially prior to this conference to be able to put out an update. We typically wouldn’t do that. But we're very pleased with the uptick that we've seen in production.

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