PETRA Perdana Bhd has regained favour with oil and gas sector analysts with its stepped-up foray into the marine transportation business.
The company is on an acquisition spree to beef up its fleet of marine vessels, and analysts say the move augurs well for its future and would give an added boost to its bottom line.
Currently, the company's wholly-owned marine transportation arm, Intra Oil Services Bhd (IOS), has four anchor handling towing supply (AHTS) vessels – the Andari 1, Andari 2, Kundasang and Tudan.
In a move to expand the fleet, Petra is in the process of acquiring two more AHTS vessels – the Bourbon Captain and Bourbon Champion – for IOS and another subsidiary, Petra Resources Sdn Bhd.
The company also announced on Wednesday the purchase of a maintenance workboat, Sea Panther.
RHB Research said in a note that Sea Panther would complement the operations of Petra’s AHTS vessels and strengthen its bidding assets.
“We like Petra’s venture into the marine transportation business not only because it broadens the company’s income and asset base but it is also in line with the expected upsurge in (oil and gas) exploration and production activities,” it said, adding that maximum utilisation of the AHTS vessels and workboat was expected to substantially lift Petra's bottom line.
RHB Research expects the company's earnings per share for the fiscal years 2004 and 2005 to jump significantly to 38.6 sen and 46.1 sen respectively from 17.9 sen in 2003 with the inclusion of its marine transportation business.
The research house has an “outperform” recommendation on Petra's shares.
An analyst with TA Securities expects the surge in crude oil prices to above US$36 per barrel to spur intensified oil exploration and production, which in turn would increase demand for marine support services.
“Given that the utilisation of IOS' anchor-handling tugs averages 95%, the new acquisitions are timely.”
The analysts said Petra's prospects looked good, especially with its venture into the marine transportation business, purchase of additional vessels, and its control of IOS.
“We like Petra because of its low gearing and good profit track record. It is also a well-managed company and relatively not so cyclical,” she added. “It is time to re-look at the stock, especially at its current price (RM5.65) which is undemanding compared with its price during the oil and gas run-up last year.”
Petra's share price had surged to a record high of RM13.90 in September last year.
The analyst said that earnings were also expected to filter through from Petra's renewed two-year contract with ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Malaysia Inc and this would be reflected in the company's financial results again.
TA Securities has a “buy” call on Petra.
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