(By Balachander) HollyFrontier Corp. (NYSE:HFC) shares were upgraded to "Buy" from "Neutral" by UBS Securities following a 11 percent sell-off in the shares since mid-February.
The brokerage, which has a price target of $35.00 on the stock, sees moderate upside to shares from the current level and views HFC's share holder yield and cash position as defensive elements to shares.
The Dallas, Texas-based petroleum refiner boasts a total shareholder yield of 10 percent/9 percent in 2012/13, tops in UBS coverage universe.
The brokerage estimates shareholder friendly cash deployment in the form of a $0.15/share recurring quarterly dividend and a $0.50/share special quarterly dividend are sustainable over its forecast horizon of 2014.
In addition, UBS estimates HFC has $254 million remaining under its existing buy-back authorization.
The company is currently negotiating an agreement regarding a potential drop-down of its stake in the UNEV pipeline to its MLP interest Holly Energy Partners. Commentary from management suggests an agreement could be reached near mid-year, with the dropdown likely to occur in two phases, UBS noted.
UBS said previous indications were that a sale of HFC's entire 75 percent interest in the line would occur at 100 percent of cost plus a 7 percent carry. The brokerage estimates this equates to around $330 million, but have assumed only 50 percent of this amount is monetized in 2Q12.
HollyFrontier produces and markets gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, asphalt, heavy products and specialty lubricant products. The company operates five complex refineries with 443,000 barrels per day of crude oil processing capacity. HollyFrontier owns a 42 percent interest in Holly Energy Partners L.P. (NYSE: HEP) and a 75 percent interest in the UNEV pipeline.
The stock, which has been trading between $21.13 and $38.90 over the past year, shed 0.68 percent to trade at $29.28 on Friday.