Plains All American Pipeline LP said its earnings for 4Q2015 were reduced by producers not meeting their minimum volume commitments (MVC), unseasonably warm weather and flooding in West Texas and the Midcontinent.
On Monday, Houston-based Plains, the largest crude oil midstream master limited partnership in the U.S. and Canada, said it failed to reach the midpoint guidance on three metrics for 4Q2015 and the full-year 2015 -- adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBIDTA), distributable cash flow and adjusted net income -- that it furnished via a Form 8-K last November.
"Although we intend to continue to measure our performance against our guidance, we think there are really two key issues that are arguably the most important considerations when investors evaluate investment in Plains in the current environment," CEO Greg Armstrong said during an earnings call Tuesday. "These two issues are [our] ability to manage to an extended period of challenging industry conditions if needed, and [our] ability to grow meaningfully upon the industry recovery without having to rely on external capital or further organic expansion of its system."
Plains reported adjusted EBIDTA of $563 million for 4Q2015 (a 5% decline from the previous fourth quarter, $594 million), and $2.17 billion for the full-year 2015 (down 1% from 2014, $2.2 billion). Distributable cash flow fell 7.7% between 4Q2014 and 4Q2015 (from $415 million to $383 million), and declined 5.8% between 2014 and 2015 (from $1.57 billion to $1.48 billion). Adjusted net income fell 36.7% from 60 cents/unit in 4Q2015 to 38 cents in 4Q2015; for the year, it declined 35.1%, from $2.28 in 2014 to $1.48 in 2015.
Net income was $247 million for 4Q2015, a 36.5% decline from 4Q2014 ($389 million).
By comparison, in the 8-K from last November, Plains predicted that adjusted EBITDA would be $595 million for 4Q2015 and $2.2 billion for the full-year 2015; distributable cash flow would be $405 million for the quarter and $1.49 billion for the year, and adjusted net income would be 46 cents/unit for the quarter and $1.57 for the year.
Plains' transportation segment accounted for $256 million of adjusted profit in 4Q2015, down from $270 million in 4Q2014 and off last November's guidance of $275 million. Plains attributed the shortfall to dashed expectations: higher volume deficiencies on MVCs, lower crude oil prices and lower production in the Permian Basin.
Also Monday, Plains issued another 8-K with midpoint guidance of $394 million in distributable cash flow and $570 million in adjusted EBITDA for 1Q2016; for full-year 2016, they totaled $1.59 billion and $2.28 billion, respectively.
"Our 2016 guidance assumes that producer activity remains near current levels with Lower 48 onshore production volumes ratably declining by approximately 325,000 b/d over the course of the year although production profiles will vary by basin," said CFO Al Swanson. "While we have minimal direct commodity exposure, we will be impacted by the anticipated Lower 48 production decline and also are impacted by tighter differentials. With respect to our MVC contracts, in a few areas, we are forecasting volumes to be below contracted levels. In the remainder of the areas, we are forecasting volumes to be in line with contracted level."
Armstrong said the company had "three simple goals" for 2016.
"First is [to] maintain a solid balance sheet, sound credit metrics and ample liquidity," Armstrong said. "Second is to execute our capital program in order to facilitate cash flow growth underpinned by MVCs and also position Plains to benefit meaningfully as U.S. production volumes increased; and lastly, optimize our assets and focus our organization to deliver the best possible results under whatever conditions we encounter in the near term."
During Tuesday's call, COO Harry Pefanis said the "vast majority" of Plains' major capital expansion projects for 2016 were underpinned by MVCs or other commitments, and were scheduled to come online over the next 24-30 months. According to the presentation slides, Plains plans to invest $1.5 billion in eight expansion projects in 2016, including:
$320 million for the Caddo and Red River crude oil pipelines;
$20 million for the Cactus Pipeline (see Shale Daily, Nov. 25, 2014);
$155 million for the Saddlehorn Pipeline (see Shale Daily, Nov. 19, 2015);
$260 million for the Diamond Pipeline (see Shale Daily, Sept. 3, 2014); and
$20 million for the Eagle Ford Joint Venture Pipeline (see Shale Daily, Nov. 5, 2014).
Plains also plans to invest $185 million for projects in the Permian Basin, $190 million for the expansion of facilities at Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta, and $35 million to expand facilities in St. James Parish, LA.
By comparison, Plains devoted $1.75-1.95 billion to capital projects in 2015.
Armstrong said Plains would be keeping an eye on production coming out of the Permian Basin, the Niobrara Shale and Denver-Julesburg (DJ) Basin.
"We'll just have to watch and monitor the wells," Armstrong said. "There's been rigs being put to work but they're having better success with each [of the] wells. Technology is overcoming rig count, so we've got [production] roughly flat to up slightly, [maybe] 2% by the end of the year.
"As far as the volumes that we got to forecast the increase, a fair portion of those are associated with MVCs that have [been] ramping up throughout the year. Others are based upon activity levels and feedback we have from acreage commitments from producers. So we know what activity levels they have, [and] that's coming on to areas where we've built out the Delaware and the Midland Basin."
In late afternoon trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange, Plains was trading at $15.88/share, a decline of $1.89 (10.6%).