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Cano Petroleum, +17% and counting



August 10, 2010 – Comments (3) | RELATED TICKERS: CANO.DL


Less than a month ago I did a write-up on my CAPS long position in Cano Petroleum (CFW), stating the following:

I love the new CAPS rules. I can now rate Cano Petroleum, a stock that could easily double from this level.

I would like to give a standing ovation to the fine folks at CAPS for changing the rules to the game so that companies with prices per share of less than a dollar can be picked.  Sure, there's always going to be people out there who try to game the system by shorting penny stock garbage, but there are a number of legitimate investment opportunities in legitimate distressed companies.

Here's one that the fantastic folks over at Above Average Odds Investing recently brought to my attention, Cano Petroleum (CFW).

I have truly evolved into a loser by playing CAPS because I love trying to come up with liquidation values for companies.  Here's a Company that I believe is trading for less than the value of its assets. 

I went long CFW in CAPS a week or two ago believing that the company's merger with Resaca might still go through and that even if it wasn't Cano's net assets were worth significantly more than the stock's current market value. It was so cheap that equity investors probably would have even made out well in the event of a bankruptcy.

Yesterday CFW rose 10% (today it has given back 5% of that) after it announced that it was pulling the plug on the Resaca deal because it believes that its assets are worth significantly more than it was scheduled to be paid through its previous merger agreement now that the credit markets have thawed some and the price of oil has stabilized.  

Cano Petroleum hires advisers to explore sale, merger

Cano Petroleum calls off merger, back on market

Now obviously when a stock gets this cheap, there's a very good reason :).  This company used enhanced recovery techniques to squeeze oil out of oil, tired fields.  It is my understanding that it has fairly old equipment that it is using to do so as well.  Add a ton of debt to the equation and you have one real mess.

The fact that Cano is so messed up is exactly why I like the situation.  I find special situations like this one absolutely fascinating.  Every stock has a story to tell.  The trick is to figure out the right ones to invest in.  If I'm going to invest in a non-dividend-paying stock the upside has to be excellent and there has to be some sort of catalyst that will trigger it. I hate just drifting around at the whim of Mr. Market without even getting paid to wait.

Several years ago Cano's share price was bouncing back and forth between $5 and $10/share. Today, the company with basically the same assets, or course with a lot of debt as well, is trading at $0.65/share.

I believe that the likelihood Cano it finds a buyer that will pay it more than its current price per share that is high. Even if it doesn't and the Company is forced to file for bankruptcy, I believe that its assets are worth enough that there is a good chance that owners of the company's common stock would realize a gain in the event of a liquidation.

Let's take a look at Cano's assets. All of this is rough, a back-of-the-envelope sort of analysis since I'm not really invested in this company and don't feel like spending the time to get really down and dirty with it.

If I am not mistaken, Cano has 49.1MMboe in reserves (7.7 MMBOE of proved developed producing reserves, 2.4 MMBOE of proved developed non-producing reserves, and 39.0 MMBOE of proved undeveloped reserves.) in the Southwestern U.S.

Let's say that we were to value those reserves at the uber-conservative rate of $3/boe (I have read that sales in that area have gone for $4 to $15/boe). 

That brings us to a value of $147.3 million for the company's reserves, not including any other assets that it has. We then need to back out the company's current liabilities, which according to Yahoo! are 
$115.5 million.

I believe that CFW has some preferred shares outstanding that might impact the liabilities portion some, but still using this rough estimate that still leaves $31.8 million for equity holders. CFW's current market cap is only $27.9 million. This seems like a reasonable margin of safety to me.

The question of course is whether the company's reserves are actually worth three bucks per barrel of oil equivalent. I honestly don't know. It's tough to peg a truly accurate valuation on such things by merely following a paper trail from afar. Someone who was in the industry, or in Texas might be able to find out though and hit a real home run with the stock. I tried to play it safe by using an almost unreasonably low valuation for the reserves in my rough valuation of the company's assets.

Of course, if the company is forced to file for bankruptcy it might not actually liquidate. One can never know for certain what will happen, but there looks like a large enough margin of safety here to give CFW a shot in CAPS. 

Here's an update on the trade for anyone who is interested.  I actually added CFW to my CAPS portfolio on 7/16/10 at $0.57/share.  The stock has risen 19.74% since then versus a 2.55% gain in the S&P 500, good for just over 17 CAPS points.

Nothing significant has happened since my original write-up, so the aforementioned gain is represents nothing more than meaningless gyrations by Mr. Market...unless I was to close my position today and lock in the gain, which I don't plan on doing.

I still think that Cano's equity is worth significantly more than its current price per share. Apparently others do as well.  Today CFW was featured in Seeking Alpha's always entertaining "Just One Stock" series.

Just One Stock: Buying Oil Reserves In the Ground, On the Cheap

In the article Shaun Noll of Stirling Capital Management states the following:

I am recommending a long position in Cano Petroleum (CFW), an onshore oil & gas company with assets in the Southwest U.S., based on the simple idea that one can buy oil, in the ground in Texas, for less than $3 a barrel.

Using conservative metrics, my analysis shows recovery to equity holders in Chapter 7 liquidation of over $1.00 a share, while a company auction would likely produce $2.00-plus per share of value within one year, compared to $0.66 per share price today. The primary risk involves management destroying value in a misguided attempt to continue managing the company...

While we are always conscious of the macro and industry dynamics, this is a bottom-up analysis. Valuation is extreme with a near-term catalyst; as long as oil prices don’t crash and the credit markets stay reasonably stable, there is a high probability of a profitable outcome. In short, would you buy oil in the ground in the Southwest U.S. at less than $3 a barrel with properties next door selling for over $14? 

I wouldn't go and put all of my eggs in this basket, it's a risky trade, but I still feel that CFW offers a tremendous amount of upside.  The company has a near-term catalyst that can unlock significant value so it's not at the mercy of Mr. Market.  I will continue to follow the Cano saga and let everyone know how things turn out.


3 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 12, 2010 at 3:23 PM, dbassett12 (92.44) wrote:

Thanks deej.  I saw your original post last week and got in.  I'm already reeping the points benefit.

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#2) On August 17, 2010 at 10:14 AM, mjonesy1985 (97.24) wrote:

in at 0.6624.....sold at 0.87 cents....bought back in at 0.80 cents.

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#3) On October 01, 2010 at 12:41 PM, Momentum21 (98.09) wrote:

Since I can no longer rate it on CAPS I am jumping in for a small piece at .31... : )


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