Financial Analysis of Chevron From the Perspective Essay

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  • Subject: Business
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financial analysis of Chevron from the perspective of a potential creditor. The issue surrounds primarily the creditworthiness of Chevron rather than the type of credit that would be issued. Specifically, the issue is whether "we" would lend Chevron 10% of its net assets. The net assets for Chevron are $209.474 billion, so the amount in question is $20.9 billion in new debt. The report will first analyze the financial statements of Chevron in general terms, focusing on trends and ratios, and drawing conclusions about the overall financial health of the company based on that analysis. The second part of the paper will outline some of the criteria that a lending institution would have for lending to a company, and then that criteria will be applied to Chevron specifically.

Chevron operates in the hydrocarbon industry, where it is one of the world's largest companies with sales of $241.9 billion and net income of $26.18 billion. It is the conclusion of this analysis that a creditor should lend Chevron an additional $20.9 billion. The company has the liquidity, solvency and the cash flow to pay back this amount of debt. The company currently finances its operations largely from operating cash flows, with a small amount of long-term debt. This low debt level has left the company with a balance sheet strong enough to withstand a further $20.9 billion in debt. As a lender, it has been found that Chevron meets all of the lending criteria with respect to liquidity, solvency, investment returns and free cash flow. This paper will outline the analysis that led to this conclusion.

Company Background

Chevron is a multinational company whose primary business involves the exploration for, extraction of and retail of hydrocarbon products. The company trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol CVX. Its market cap of $226 billion makes it one of the largest companies in the world by that measure. Chevron has sales of $241.9 billion, net income of $26.18 billion and with a beta of 0.80 is a fairly low-risk investment (MSN Moneycentral, 2013). Chevron's predecessor companies date to the 19th century in southern California, and it was known as Standard Oil until the 1980s. After a merger with Gulf Oil, the company adopted its Chevron retail brand as its company name.

Chevron operates in the hydrocarbon industry, focused on petroleum exploration, extraction, refining and retailing. The company has operations around the world, but retains its California headquarters. The company also has alternative energy businesses, although these remain niche markets for Chevron.

The company's senior management team consists predominantly of industry veterans. The CEO, John Watson, has been in place since 2010. He had joined in the company in 1980 as a financial analyst and made VP in 1998. George Kirkland, Executive VP of Upstream and Gas, joined the company in 1974 as a facility engineer and has been in his current position since 2010 (Chevron, 2013). Most officers have similar biographies, including multiple international assignments, indicating a preference in the company for a long and progressive internal career path.

The general conditions in the global hydrocarbon business are positive, reflecting a combination of factors. There are more people in this world than ever before, more people have achieved at least a middle class standard of living that allows them to consume hydrocarbons, and there are fewer hydrocarbons available, thus increasing the market price. Chevron is engaged in oil and natural gas projects primarily, and these projects span the globe. Chevron also has a downstream business, focusing on petrochemicals, fertilizers, transportation, trading, lubricants, and energy technology (2011 Annual Report).

From a qualitative standpoint, Chevron is in a great business that generates an incredible amount of cash flow. The product has inelastic price elasticity of demand (Moffat, 2013), which a creditor would also view as positive. Further, Chevron has a global, diversified portfolio of businesses within this industry, better enabling it to weather any downturns or recessions that might hit the business. With a positive qualitative situation, the main concern for the potential creditor now rests with an analysis of the company's quantitative situation -- are they performing to expectations and can they be relied upon for repayment?

Financial Analysis

A creditor needs to undertake a thorough financial analysis prior to lending money. The creditor benefits from financial analysis because of the insights the technique gleans with respect to the company's financial condition, specifically its liquidity, solvency, profitability and its efficiency. Understanding the ability to pay back the loan or bonds requires understanding more than just liquidity and solvency, but a deeper understanding of the client's business and the underlying conditions of that business. In addition, the strategy that the company employs is also a factor in the credit decision and to an extent financial analysis can reveal if the company is successfully employing its chosen strategy.

A financial analysis should integrate a number of techniques. Ratio analysis is one of the most common and valuable techniques, but should be used in concert with an analysis of the underlying trends in the business. Common size and horizontal analysis can thus contribute to the understanding of the firm's financial condition, and these techniques should be built into the analysis. In this analysis, the past five years of financial data has been taken into consideration, with emphasis on the past two. Five years are valuable because that timeframe goes back to the depths of recession and creditors like to know how their customers respond to financial upheaval. Chevron reports in U.S. dollars, so all financial data are reported in USD unless otherwise stated.

The ratio analysis findings are summarized in the following table:

Ratio

2010

2011

Current ratio

1.68 ($48,541 / $29,012)

1.58 ($53,234 / $33,600)

Quick ratio

1.49 ($43,348 / $29,012)

1.42 ($47,691 / $33,600)

Cash ratio

0.59 ($14,060 / $29,012)

0.59 ($15,864 / $33,600)

Debt ratio

43.1 ($78.98b / $184.76 b)

42.5 ($87.293b / $209.47b)

Long-Term Debt/Equity

10.7 ($11.0b / $105.08b)

8.1 ($9.68b / $122.18b)

Accounts Receivable Turnover

10.6x ($204.9b / $19.23b)

13.8x ($293.7b / $21.27b)

Total Asset Turnover

1.17x ($204.9b / $54.69b)

1.5x ($293.7b / $197.1b)

Gross Margin

31% ($63.5b / $204.9b)

31% (78.82b / $253.7b)

Net Margin

9.3% ($19.02b / $204.9b)

10.6% ($26.89b / $252.7b)

Effective Tax Rate

40.3% ($12.9b / $32.05b)

43.3% ($20.62b / $47.63b)

Return on Assets

18.1% ($32.05b / $124.7b)

24.1% ($47.63b / $197.1b)

Return on Equity

36.5% ($32.05b / $98.49b)

42% ($47.63b / $119.23b)

Ratio analysis is the first form of analysis that will be utilized. In this form, the company's financial statements are subjected to a set of ratio calculations, from which more insights into the financial condition of the company can be gained. There are several categories of financial ratio, including the liquidity ratios, the solvency ratios, the managerial efficiency ratios, the profitability ratios and the investment return ratios. There are also market ratios but these primarily concern stock market metrics. In addition to market figures (especially stock price) being skewed by the often irrational views of investors, they also concern the value of equity, not the value of debt. Equity tends to be subordinated to debt, so the creditor gains less from this set of ratios than he or she would from the other ratio categories.

The liquidity ratios are important because they illustrate how liquid the company is, specifically answering the question of how well it can meet its obligations for the coming year. The first liquidity ratio is the current ratio. For Chevron in 2011,the current ratio was 1.58 and in 2010 it was 1.68. The quick ratio removes inventories from the equation. The quick ratio for Chevron in 2011 was 1.42 and in 2010 it was 1.49. The final liquidity ratio is the cash ratio, which for Chevron in 2011 was 0.59 and in 2010 it was 0.59. This analysis shows that the cash ratio held steady for Chevron, but the liquidity elsewhere declined. There are two ways to view such a decline in liquidity. The first is to see it as a sign of financial weakness; the second is to see it as an improvement in efficiency. Given that all three ratios are within the healthy range, it would be unfair to view Chevron's efforts to improve efficiency in a negative light, especially considering that the cash ratio remained unchanged in the last year. If the cash ratio had also declined, that might have pointed to a red flag about declining liquidity based on the company's fundamentals, but in this case the decline in liquidity more likely reflects improvements in collections and inventory management.

The next category of ratios is also critical to the prospective creditor -- the solvency ratios. These measure the long-term ability of the company to carry debt, and are of particular importance for a creditor issuing long-term debt. A creditor issuing short-term debt might not care at all about long-term solvency. Given the amount at stake here, however, it is assumed that the debt issue is going to be long-term in nature…

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