Earlier this week the Trump administration announced that it had reached an agreement with China to increase market access for U.S. energy companies. Today Cheniere Energy (LNG) noted that it has had extensive negotiations with Chinese state-owned companies about increasing shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to China. Cheniere has sold nine cargoes of LNG on the spot market to China since it began exporting liquified natural gas in February 2016. The goal now for the company is moving from sales on the spot market to long-term contracts.
On the news shares of Cheniere are up 3.24% as of 3:30 p.m. New York time. Cheniere Energy is a member of my Jubak Picks portfolio. Shares are up 81.95% since I added them to this portfolio back on June 25, 2013.
The China news just confirms the pattern revealed in Cheniere’s first quarter earnings results on April 27. The company continues to move ahead on completing liquefaction trains at its Sabine Pass and Corpus Christi plants–Train 3 at Sabine pass was completed on March 28 and completion of Train 4 is expected in the second half of 2017.
With that increased production capacity Cheniere has been able to increase sales with 43 cargoes loaded in the first quarter (150 trillion BTUs of liquified natural gas.) Revenue hit $1.1 billion in the first quarter. In that context, expanding the company’s markets in China is critical. To date only 31% of Cheniere’s shipments have gone to Asia as compared to 41% to Latin America.
In its first quarter report Cheniere also announced an important financial milestone. The debt for its Sabine Pass Liquifaction LLC (SPL), used to finance that facility, got an upgrade to BBB investment grade from Fitch Ratings. That credit rating company, at least, is more comfortable with Cheniere’s ability to finance its huge debt load.
As of May 12, I’m setting a new target price of $58 a share for Cheniere.
Full disclosure: I own call options on Cheniere in my personal portfolio.