MARKETS

Worley a predator not prey: Macquarie

DESPITE the recent speculation, Macquarie Wealth Management sees WorleyParsons as more likely to acquire companies than be taken over by a global peer.

Blair Price
Worley a predator not prey: Macquarie

Deutsche Bank recently flagged that an attempt for Worley could include a 30% takeover premium after takeover speculation was credited for some unexpected Worley share price gains.

However, the bank also considered it unlikely that a global peer of the energy services player would try to acquire Worley.

Macquarie is of a similar view and even downgraded its outlook of Worley to Neutral due to the broker’s own lower oil price forecasts and a lack of major project sanctions facing the whole oilfield services sector.

“Shell’s announced acquisition of BG has brought sector consolidation into focus,” Macquaire said.

“Regarding engineering services, AMEC has acquired Foster Wheeler and SNC acquired Kentz in the last 18 months. We see Worley more likely as an acquirer rather than acquiree with small to medium bolt-ons Worley’s key focus.”

The broker also said the oil price hit was now four months old with downcycle impacts likely being felt by Worley.

“In addition, post its mini-rally, Worley has narrowed its valuation gap to closest peers and now trades at a 4% discount on a forward Price-Earnings basis based on consensus earnings.

“Worley has performed in line with global peers in last 3 months but is lagging on a 12 month basis.”

In September Macquarie put an outperform rating on Worley based on its stronger margin North American growth plans (chemicals, pipelines, upstream oil and gas).

While Worley has since won work from Canada’s oil and gas scene it also won the front-end engineering and design contract for Arrow Energy’s 500km Bowen pipeline project in December.

In January, Goldman Sachs expected the bear market in oil was going to be a “major headwind” for Worley’s revenue outlook and slashed its 12 month target price for the stock from $12.90 to $8.60 at the time.

Worley shares were up almost 3% this morning to $11.30. They rose past $11 earlier this week.

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