(By Mani) Comstock Resources, Inc. (NYSE:CRK) shares were down about 11 percent in the past two days as investors sold on the news of the much anticipated Eagle Ford JV didn't provide any cash upfront to the company.
However, the freefall in shares creates a buying opportunity as the joint venture improves the outlook for 2013and strengthens Comstock's balance sheet.
Last week, Comstock signed a deal with KKR over its future development of its Eagle Ford shale acreage in Atascosa, Frio, Karnes, LaSalle, McMullen and Wilson Counties in South Texas.
Under the terms of the deal, KKR will have the right to participate for one-third of Comstock's working interest in wells drilled on Comstock's 28,000 net acres in exchange for paying $25,000 per acre through a drilling carry for the net acreage being acquired by KKR. Comstock expects to develop most of its acreage based on spacing units of approximately 80 acres.
The agreement will apply to wells spud by Comstock on or subsequent to March 31, 2012. Comstock will retain all of its interest in wells spud prior to March 31, 2012. Subject to certain conditions, KKR has committed to providing drilling carry equivalent to $25,000 per acre for the next 100 wells drilled on Comstock's Eagle Ford shale acreage and can continue to participate in additional wells drilled on the acreage for the same drilling carry.
"Instead of the typical JV structure that locks companies into drilling, CRK chose a more flexible agreement to protect from a decline in oil prices," Oppenheimer analyst Daniel Katzenberg wrote in a note to clients.
This JV will provide the necessary capital to accelerate drilling of this exciting oil play, while still allowing the company to have the capital to develop its Wolfbone properties in West Texas.
"Despite the reaction, we believe the transaction boosts its 2013 oil growth outlook and strengthens the company's balance sheet. Results from its first two Wolfcamp horizontal wells are expected to be announced on the 3Q12 conference call, and could boost the oil growth outlook further," the analyst noted.
Meanwhile, the Texas-based company expects to be cash flow positive during the second half of 2012 and 2013 as oil volume growth begins to contribute to higher cash flow.
Comstock's production in the second quarter of 2012 of 583 thousand barrels of oil and 21.9 billion cubic feet of natural gas or 25.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas equivalent (Bcfe) increased 6 percent over the 24.0 Bcfe produced in the second quarter of 2011. Oil production increased 267 percent over 2011's second quarter. Oil production in the second quarter, which averaged 6,400 barrels of oil per day, grew 14 percent from the 5,600 barrels per day produced in the first quarter of 2012.
At the end of the second quarter of 2012, the company's six operated drilling rigs were all drilling oil wells in South Texas and West Texas as it has suspended its natural gas drilling operations until natural gas prices improve.
Comstock's continued success in its transition to oil drilling would lead to higher cash flow and EBITDA over the next several years.