This May Be the Least Excited Upgrade Note in Analyst History
(Bloomberg) -- There is damning with faint praise and then there is what two Raymond James & Associates Inc. analysts did on Monday.
Pavel Molchanov and Muhammed Ghulam are not -- repeat NOT -- happy to upgrade Ecopetrol SA, even though Colombia’s state-controlled oil producer has climbed 79 percent this year. Rising oil prices made them do it.
“From time to time, we make stock calls that, while based on sound logic, simply get overtaken by events,” the note Monday begins. “Our new oil price forecast makes an Underperform on Ecopetrol unviable.”
Repeated bombing of the Cano-Limon pipeline and the president’s hardline stance against militants, coupled with a series of oil spills, have done nothing to slow the market’s appreciation for Ecopetrol, "one of the most Brent-levered players in the global oil industry." And as Venezuelan production falls off a cliff, Ecopetrol’s exports face added demand.
But, despite the upgrade, the analysts want to be clear: You probably shouldn’t buy this stock. “There are still plenty of structural problems that we see with the story, and to be clear, we are not advising anyone to chase the stock at these levels. ”
In case you’re still considering buying, the analysts said that even with higher Brent prices in the future, the company’s favorable production mix and estimated earnings increase plus a dividend payout expected in April, "All that being said, we are still not fans."
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