By late afternoon, shares of Linn had taken off 5% to $27.55, and trading volume of 2.1 million had exceeded its three-month average of 1.9 million.
LinnCo, which owns Linn Energy units and focuses on the development of oil and natural gas properties, had slipped 6.5% to $26.37. Trading volume of 2.7 million was higher than its three-month daily average of 1.4 million.
JPMorgan downgraded both Linn and LinnCo to "neutral" from "overweight" with $30 target prices. The firm previously had price targets of $36 on the companies.
The firm said Linn Energy's guidance had missed estimates. Last month, the Houston-based oiler said it expects first-quarter production between 1,070 and 1,100 MMcfe/d and production for the full-year 2014 between 1,070 and 1,140 MMcfe/d, which includes the potential impact of ethane rejection for the year of approximately 22 MMcfe/d.
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TheStreet Ratings team rates LINN ENERGY LLC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:
"We rate LINN ENERGY LLC (LINE) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed -- some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its revenue growth and good cash flow from operations. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including deteriorating net income, generally higher debt management risk and disappointing return on equity."
Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:
- The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 7.8%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues slightly increased by 9.7%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
- Net operating cash flow has slightly increased to $225.70 million or 9.31% when compared to the same quarter last year. The firm also exceeded the industry average cash flow growth rate of -23.37%.
- LINN ENERGY LLC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, LINN ENERGY LLC reported poor results of -$2.78 versus -$1.86 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($1.66 versus -$2.78).
- Currently the debt-to-equity ratio of 1.56 is quite high overall and when compared to the industry average, suggesting that the current management of debt levels should be re-evaluated. Along with this, the company manages to maintain a quick ratio of 0.43, which clearly demonstrates the inability to cover short-term cash needs.
- The company's current return on equity has slightly decreased from the same quarter one year prior. This implies a minor weakness in the organization. Compared to other companies in the Oil, Gas & Consumable Fuels industry and the overall market, LINN ENERGY LLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
- You can view the full analysis from the report here: LINE Ratings Report