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Range Resources Shares Surge on Takeover Talk

Range Resources Corp., an early pioneer in the Barnett Shale that has since taken its estimable talents to the Marcellus, on Wednesday saw its share price jump almost 20% in early trading after reports surfaced that Royal Dutch Shell plc or another major oil company might make a bid for the company.

Range's shares ended the day at $67.98, up close to 5%, or $3.09, on an overall down day for the market. More than 16 million shares traded hands, versus average volume of 2.78 million.

None of the major oil companies contacted by NGI's Shale Daily provided any comment on the rumors.

The stock surge followed a story that appeared in the Wall Street Journal Wednesday indicating that Shell was considering a takeover bid. However, Motley Fool analysts pointed out that rather than deny the rumors outright, Range management told the Journal it "hadn't been formally approached," which may indicate "that there were informal talks."

Analysts with Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. said a buyer for Range (RRC) would need to "think they have some edge" in running the company. "Finding a weak link in RRC as a company is difficult..." The RRC machine is "pretty well oiled" and would demand a deep-pocket buyer.

CNBC's Jim Cramer responded to the rumors Wednesday by saying Range's share price was getting a "deserved boost" that "reminds you of the real asset value of a-buck-and-change natural gas when people are paying $16 for liquefied natural gas.

"I have loved this company ever since it came on the show and demonstrated that it is, for all intents and purposes, the 'inventor of the Marcellus Shale.'" However, Cramer said Range "is by far the lowest-cost producer, and it has the best acreage, because it was the 'firstest with the mostest.'" He also said Range "has never denied that for the right price, it would sell..."

Range in July reported an estimated recovery rate of 5.7 Bcfe for its Marcellus Shale wells in southwestern Pennsylvania, nearly double the recovery rate it estimated after drilling its first well (see Shale Daily, July 27). The figure was based on 103 horizontal wells averaging 2,802-foot laterals and nine hydraulic fracture stages per well.

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