Why Is SM Energy (SM) Down 25% Since Last Earnings Report?

It has been about a month since the last earnings report for SM Energy (SM). Shares have lost about 25% in that time frame, underperforming the S&P 500.

Will the recent negative trend continue leading up to its next earnings release, or is SM Energy due for a breakout? Before we dive into how investors and analysts have reacted as of late, let's take a quick look at the most recent earnings report in order to get a better handle on the important drivers.

SM Energy Beats Q2 Earnings Estimates, Cuts Capex View Again

SM Energy Company reported second-quarter 2020 adjusted loss of 15 cents per share, narrower than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 47 cents. However, the reported figure deteriorated from a loss of a penny a year ago.

Total revenues, which decreased to $169.6 million from $407.2 million in the prior-year quarter, missed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $284 million.

The better-than-expected earnings can be attributed to lower operating expenses. The positives were partially offset by lower realized commodity prices and hydrocarbon production volumes.

Operational Performance:

Total Production Falls

The company’s second-quarter production was 122.9 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (MBoe/d) (48% oil), down 10% from the year-ago level of 136.5 MBoe/d. The production decline was caused by curtailed operations in the Midland Basin. Notably, it drilled 27 net wells in the quarter and added 11 net flowing completions.

Oil production decreased 1% year over year to 59 thousand barrels per day (MBbls/d). SM Energy produced 285.8 million cubic feet per day of natural gas in the quarter, down 8% year over year. Natural gas liquids contributed 16.2 MBbls/d to total production volume, down 35% from the second-quarter 2019 level.  

Realized Prices Decline

Excluding the effects of derivative settlements, the average realized price per Boe was $15.18 compared with $32.75 in the year-ago quarter. Average realized price of natural gas fell 42% year over year to $1.34 per thousand cubic feet. Notably, average realized prices of oil decreased 60% to $22.25 per barrel and that of natural gas liquids declined 36% from the prior-year quarter to $10.43.

Cost & Expenses

On the cost front, unit lease operating expenses decreased 21% year over year to $3.30 per Boe. In addition, transportation expenses fell to $3.12 per Boe from $4 in the year-ago quarter. Moreover, general and administrative expenses decreased 2% to $2.43 per Boe from the prior-year level of $2.49. Also, transportation costs fell 22% year over year to $3.12 per Boe.

Total exploration expenses were $9.8 million, lower than the year-ago figure of $10.9 million. Hydrocarbon production expenses for the quarter were recorded at $80.4 million compared with the year-ago level of $123.1 million. However, total operating expenses for the quarter increased to $482.3 million from the year-ago period’s $303 million, primarily due to substantial net derivative loss incurred.

Balance Sheet & Capex

As of Jun 30, SM Energy had a cash balance of $10,000 and liquidity of $865 million. Its net long-term debt was $2,456.1 million, down from the first-quarter level of $2,645.4 million. The company had a debt to capitalization of 51.9%.

Capital expenditure for the quarter was recorded at $170.9 million, lower than the year-ago figure of $326.8 million. Notably, it generated free cash flow of $27.9 million in the quarter versus the year-ago negative free cash flow of $36.2 million.


Due to current market volatility, the company has reduced well completion and drilling pace. It anticipates capital spending for full-year 2020 within $610-630 million. This expectation is 25% lower than the prior guidance. The company expects production in the range of 120.2-125.7 Boe/d for the year, of which 49-50% will likely be crude oil. Third-quarter production is expected in the range of 114.1-119.6 Boe/d, comprising 48% crude oil. Lease operating expenses are expected in the band of $4.75-$5 per Boe. Transportation expenses are anticipated in the range of $3.10-$3.30 per Boe.

How Have Estimates Been Moving Since Then?

In the past month, investors have witnessed an upward trend in fresh estimates. The consensus estimate has shifted 44.56% due to these changes.

VGM Scores

At this time, SM Energy has a subpar Growth Score of D, however its Momentum Score is doing a lot better with an A. Following the exact same course, the stock was allocated a grade of A on the value side, putting it in the top 20% for this investment strategy.

Overall, the stock has an aggregate VGM Score of A. If you aren't focused on one strategy, this score is the one you should be interested in.


Estimates have been trending upward for the stock, and the magnitude of these revisions looks promising. Notably, SM Energy has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). We expect an in-line return from the stock in the next few months.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.


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