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Wall Street sees Exxon paring asset values on weakening demand

CommoditiesJul 02, 2020 06:15PM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: An airplane comes in for a landing above an Exxon sign at a gas station in the Chicago suburb of Norridge

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Exxon Mobil Corp (N:XOM) assets are likely overvalued in light of weak oil-demand outlook, according to Wall Street analysts, and face write-downs as soon as this month.

A roughly 30% drop in global fuel demand from the COVID-19 pandemic has fed an energy glut expected to last well into 2021, hurting the values of assets. Oil producers BP Plc (L:BP), Occidental Petroleum (N:OXY) , and Royal Dutch Shell (L:RDSa) have cut billions of dollars off their assets in recent weeks.

The oil industry "is clearly altering its view on the value of assets and we would not be surprised if Exxon followed suit," said Cowen analyst Jason Gabelman by email. The size of any impairment is unclear, he said.

Exxon will "start to lose credibility if they don't take a writedown soon," said Jennifer Rowland, an oil and gas analyst with Edward Jones, in an email. She did not estimate the size of any charge.

While Exxon does not disclose the prices it uses to test for impairments, "I suspect they are still testing the balance sheet," said Biraj Borkhataria, analyst with RBC Europe Ltd, in an email.

Exxon on Thursday signaled weak oil and gas and refining profits, prompting several analysts to say losses could be higher than they anticipated.

For the first time, Exxon added language to an investor update saying it "may not account for all adjustments and charges required to fully reflect the changes in industry conditions."

A company spokesman called it "standard legal and accounting language," however, and did not reply to a question about a possible write-down.

Exxon rivals have aggressively reduced book values, with BP signaling an up to $17.5 billion write-down, Occidental up to $9 billion and Shell up to $22 billion this quarter.

Wall Street sees Exxon paring asset values on weakening demand
 

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