Contango Oil and Gas reported quarterly and full-year results. Press release here.
Commentary by CEO Kenneth Peak:
“Despite the prolonged shut-in of our production this past fall and losing our offices due to Hurricane Ike together with the collapse in natural gas prices, we had a profitable and successful year. We repurchased 7% of our common stock and ended the year with 22 Mcfe of proved developed reserves per fully diluted share. We are debt free and have a $50.0 million unused line of credit.”
Mr. Peak continued, “Income taxes are our biggest expense, but it is better to have a tax problem than it is to have an income problem. I have been surprised that on-shore U.S. natural gas production hasn’t fallen off more quickly. The industry is not earning a positive rate of return at anywhere near current natural gas price levels and sooner or later, the industry must earn a profit if it is to continue to attract capital to drill. We will continue to be stingy with our common stock. Our fully diluted share count now stands at 16.5 million shares, as compared to 16.7 million shares at June 30, 2001. In the past two years we have issued a combined total of 67,559 shares and options to management and the board of directors and this fiscal year we plan to issue zero stock and options.”
I've been searching for alternatives to UNG for investing in natural gas. Gas prices have recently bounced, and I expect 2010 prices to be higher than current levels. Contango appears to have a transparent group of managers concerned with shareholder value. Also, they have virtually no debt which is quite rare in this industry. Thus, if prices stay low for an extended period of time, they are much more likely to survive and even buy assets at good prices.
I may be buying some MCF soon.