Back to Main

Wilbur Ross Boosts EXCO Stake by 60%

By: GuruFocus
Posted: 1/20/2014 5:19:00 PM
Referenced Stocks: AGO;BKU;CACQ;XCO

EXCO Resources ( XCO ), an oil and gas company, has attracted large investments from a number of noted investors, including Oaktree's Howard Marks ( Trades , Portfolio ) and Fairfax Financial (TSX:FFH)'s Prem Watsa (Trades, Portfolio). Last week, according to GuruFocus Real Time Picks, Invesco Private Capital (Trades, Portfolio)'s Wilbur Ross (Trades, Portfolio) also made a dramatic increase in his holding of the company.

Ross built up his EXCO Resources position by 62.21%, or 19,603,723 shares, giving him 23.49% ownership of the company. He started the position in third quarter 2010, adding to it over subsequent quarters at a price averaging $15.85. This gives him an approximate 69% loss on the holding, based on its Monday trading price of $4.88. He had not purchased more shares since second quarter 2012.

1390252801995.png

As his third-largest position, EXCO encompasses 22.5% of Ross' concentrated portfolio, behind BankUnited Inc. ( BKU ) at 27.1%, and Assured Guaranty Ltd. ( AGO ) at 29.5%.

Ross' recent EXCO purchases were part of a rights offering EXCO held on Jan. 17, in which it issued 54.5 million total shares of common stock, worth $273 million.

"Of the approximately 54.5 million total shares of common stock expected to be issued, EXCO believes that approximately 28.2 million shares will be issued in the rights offering and approximately 19.6 million shares and 6.7 million shares will be issued to affiliates of [Wilbur Ross (Trades, Portfolio)' company] WL Ross & Co. LLC and affiliates of Hamblin Watsa Investment Counsel Ltd., respectively, under their respective Investment Agreements," the company said in a statement.

At the end of third quarter 2013, EXCO had cash holdings of $33.5 million, down from $45.64 million the previous year, with long-term debt of $1.86 billion.

Last week, Howard Marks (Trades, Portfolio) announced that he had increased his EXCO position by 23% after the transaction owned 16.6% of the company in total.

The Dallas-based company explores for, develops and produces oil and natural gas primarily in Texas, North Louisiana and Appalachia. Its stock is near a 10-year low after its stock suffered due to low natural gas prices last year. It has been increasing its exposure to crude oil according to its 2014 capital budget.

For third quarter 2013, EXCO reported a $99 million net loss, or $0.46 per diluted share, compared with net loss of $346 million, or $1.62 per diluted share, for third quarter 2013, which included a $318 million pre-tax non-cash ceiling test write-down of oil and natural gas properties.

Third quarter 2013 net loss was primarily due to impairment of an investment in TGGT due to the excess of the carrying value over its share of the expected proceeds from the anticipated sale, and costs of acquisitions of Haynesville and Eagle Ford assets in July 2013.

The company will already be selling TGGT for $910 million, however, and using the proceeds to reduce debt related to its $1 billion of acquisitions of Haynesville and Eagle Ford in July 2013.

"From 2015 forward, incorporating anticipated acquisitions, we expect to return to a more predictable pattern of annual production growth of approximately 7% to 10% per year and corresponding Adjusted EBITDA growth of approximately 10% to 15% per year, based on forward NYMEX pricing," the company said in a statement.

EXCO's 10-year revenue and earnings history:

1390255961742.png

EXCO also announced changes to its senior management in November. The company's CEO and board chairman, Donald H. Miller, resigned, and Jeffrey D. Benjamin was brought in as non-executive chairman of the board of directors. Miller had led EXCO since 1997. The board has not yet found a replacement CEO. Benjamin has served on the company's board since October 2005, and from 1998 through 2003, and is also a director of Caesars Entertainment Corp. ( CACQ ) and others.

See Wilbur Ross' portfolio here.

GuruFocus Real Time Picks alerts you for the stock purchases and sales that Gurus have made within the last two days. Follow your favorite Gurus closely with GuruFocus' Premium Membership! If you are not a Premium Member, we invite you for a 7-Day Free Trial.

About GuruFocus: GuruFocus.com tracks the stocks picks and portfolio holdings of the world's best investors. This value investing site offers stock screeners and valuation tools. And publishes daily articles tracking the latest moves of the world's best investors. GuruFocus also provides promising stock ideas in 3 monthly newsletters sent to Premium Members .

This article first appeared on GuruFocus .