Story: Is Nuverra Environmental Really That Bad? | NES Message Board Posts

NES   /  Message Board  /  Read Message



Rec'd By
Authored By
Minimum Recs
Previous Message  Next Message   Post Message   Post a Reply return to message boardtop of board
Msg  319 of 335  at  8/28/2013 12:19:35 PM  by


Story: Is Nuverra Environmental Really That Bad?

Is Nuverra Environmental Really That Bad?
Aug 27 2013, 09:14 | 32 comments | about: NES, includes: BAS, CJES, KEG, SPN BOOKMARK / READ LATER
Disclosure: I am long CJES, NES. (More...)

The recent article against Nuverra Environmental (NES) used personal attacks to distract from the real results of the company. Claims that the well-respected former CEO made an acquisition to escape or that the company creates a "distorted reality" by making adjustments to financials is absurd.

The company is dedicated to the protection and enhancement of environmental solutions for the removal and disposal of restricted fluids primarily from shale drilling. As environmentalists fret over the safety of the fluids used in fracking, Nuverra was suppose to benefit from the need to safely dispose of the "dangerous" fluids

The contributor made some great points regarding the company consistently missing guidance and having a lot of debt that could become a problem, but he should've stuck to those points instead of making claims that the Chairman is distancing himself from the "sinking ship". Though one could easily argue that the stock was trading below $3 due to these issues. What is missed in that article is that the charges such as amortization and stock-based compensation removed by Nuverra are a standard industry practice and a valid method for valuing an investment. It wouldn't surprise me to learn that a business school doesn't teach the practicalities of adjusting charges to reach a real world valuation. In fact, if Nuverra management would provide those adjusted numbers for the operating income and net income lines the company would likely be seen in a much different light.

The interesting nugget in the whole article regards the ability of the company to generate $13.5 million of free cash flow (FCF) in the 1H13. Also, supposedly the new CEO, Mark Johnsrud, is a solid operator that could save the company if it wasn't already too late. It's amazing that the full article attacked the 'distorted reality' of the adjustments yet the FCF makes the contributor happy. Those numbers don't lie and we'll take the next few paragraphs to address some of the issues.

Domestic Industry Struggles

The biggest failure of the article is to address the beating that the domestic oil service firms have taken over the last year with weak natural gas prices limiting drilling and completion services. While Nuverra is a proclaimed environmental firm naturally disputed in the article, it still faces the same pressures as Basic Energy (BAS), Key Energy (KEG) and Superior Energy (SPN) used for comparative analysis. If those firms are struggling than it is no surprise that Nuverra is having problems hitting numbers. Now one could probably argue whether these firms would provide valid comparisons for valuation metrics, but for this argument we'll just highlight how missing guidance is an industry issue and not related to Nuverra. In addition to those oil service firms used, C&J Energy Services (CJES) is included to juice up the valuation. C&J is a well-respected hydraulic fracturing leader that made a Bakken related acquisition. Using it for comparative analysis is probably a lot more valid than Basic Energy or the others.

The below chart shows the earnings estimates for the current fiscal year for all of these firms:

NES EPS Estimates for Current Fiscal Year data by YCharts

Notice the trend for all of the stocks is consistently downward over the last year. Evidently all of the executive management teams and analysts are as incompetent as Dick Heckmann and Nuverra to consistently overestimate the strength of the industry.

Over the last year, the stock price has been similar for all of these stocks as well. Naturally Nuverra had an initial huge spike due to the excitement over the Power Fuels deal, but that premium has disappeared with the weak results.

NES data by YCharts

Again after reviewing these numbers one doesn't get an impression that Nuverra is performing any different than the general industry.

Adjusted Operating Income

Now lets review the operating income claims of a "distorted reality" with consistently adjusting the financials. This claim can easily be put to rest by reading just about any financial report. Again the nugget about the FCF is mind-blowing and very damaging to the short theory. Most investors see FCF as the least manipulated financial number. If the company can generate FCF in the worst period in the industry in over a decade, would a bank really default on them?

Anyway back to adjusted income. The biggest disservice the company did to investors was not providing adjusted operations income and net income numbers. As the previous article mentioned, the company has a ton of worthless intangible assets so naturally those should be excluded from income statements. That number amounted to nearly $9 million in Q2. Income from operations was a reported loss of $7.7 million, which means operating income was actually positive excluding only the most basic of worthless non-cash charges. What about excluding $5 million of restructuring charges? What about $2.3 million of integration and rebranding charges? What about stock-based compensation of $1.3 million?

So lets look at the adjusted financials, as the company should've provided them. The below table provides all of the adjustments to the net loss of $12.9 million. Any investor can choose to remove one-time or non-cash charges to value the company and it's far from distorted to remove one-time or non-cash charges to value an equity position.

(click to enlarge)

The below table is adjusted to exclude all of these charges.

As can be seen when excluding the charges, the results quickly turn to operating income. Unfortunately the interest expense swamps the adjusted $11 million of operating income, but the number is a far cry from the negative analysis.

Default Risk Known

Default risk is a major concern with any small cap stock that has $541 million in debt. The company must maintain minimum interest coverage ratios pretty standard in all debt deals. The analysis appears very solid around these numbers and the article would've been better suited to focus on these details than the personal attack on the Chairman.

Based on the provided numbers, Nuverra would need to reach $146 million or trip the covenant, but undoubtedly a company that reaches $145 million would be able to obtain a modification without much risk. The real key is whether an investor believes the sector hit a bottom during the spring. If anything, it appears that management conservatively guided towards the exact amount of the covenant to avoid default concerns yet make sure it easily exceeded those estimates.

Here is where the nature of Wall Street works against the perma-bears. Due to the nature of not wanting to disappoint the markets again, the typical company provides overly conservative guidance in order to prevent from missing numbers yet again. In the end, the cycle works against those betting on continually missing guidance as the sector eventually bottoms out.


Clearly the issue with Nuverra is as much one with the industry than anything company specific. All of the domestic only focused oil service firms have been crushed over the last year. As an example, earnings estimates for Basic Energy have plunged from expectations for a 2013 loss of $0.22 all the way to $0.56 in only the last 90 days. Taking shots at Nuverra for possibly overpaying on the Power Fuels deal could be valid, but making statements that it somehow should've avoided the collapse in domestic pricing power or avoided the bad weather in the Bakken just doesn't hold water.

The bottom line is that Nuverra needs to beat estimates in Q3 or it faces numerous issues from management concerns to the need to modify loans. Remember though that the guidance of $75 to $85 million in EBITDA for the 2H13 is ultra-conservative considering the ability to generate $65 million during a horrible 1H. In the end, a company that can generate FCF and operating income (yes even if adjusted) isn't likely to default considering the 2H numbers should only improve. Investors should look into scooping up these shares on the irrational default risk fears.

Additional disclosure: The information contained herein is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as a solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Before buying or selling any stock you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion or consult a financial advisor. Investing includes risks, including loss of principal.

Which Seeking Alpha App is best for you?
Seeking Alpha Portfolio
Tech Investor
ETF investor
Energy Investor
Email me a link to open from my phone:
Share this article with a colleague
Now Research Small-Cap Alternatives to NES
Energy XXI Limited: Undervalued Gulf Of Mexico Energy Play
by Bret Jensen 4 Comments 5 days ago
Is WSP A Fraud?
by Charles Zhang 6 Comments Aug 15, 2013
About this article
Emailed to: 4,832 people who get NES real-time alerts, 336,021 people who get Investing Ideas daily and 163,092 people who get Energy Investing daily.
Author payment: $0.01 per page view, with minimum guarantee of $500 for Alpha-Rich ideas plus free access to Seeking Alpha Pro.
Become a contributor
Tagged: Investing Ideas, Long Ideas, Basic Materials, Oil & Gas Equipment & Services, Small-Cap Insight
Problem with this article? Please tell us. Disagree with this article? Submit your own.
More articles by Stone Fox Capital
NeoStem: Making The TransformationTodayAvoid The Deworsification At Ascena Retail GroupMon, Aug 26Will This Social Butterfly Ever Soar?Fri, Aug 23Seadrill Newbuild Program To Benefit From Mexico DemandThu, Aug 22
Comments (32)
Track new comments on this article

TFCABComments (1358)
NES recently was inducted into my Hall of Shame. It joins SKUL, ZAGG and ZNGA. SD is waiting on-deck, but we wont know on that one for a while yet. 27 Aug, 09:25 AMReply! Report AbuseLike0

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Those others have struggled while the industry as a whole as advanced. ZNGA was pretty emphatic that the market it serves has been growing. On the other hand, NES is in an industry where all the companies have struggled so I'm not sure that Hall of Shame is valid. 27 Aug, 11:38 AMReply! Report AbuseLike1

TFCABComments (1358)
Just referring to my personal experience w/ Stock......i had held NES long dated calls since late 2012.........i sold them prior to the recent big sell off. I was under water quite a bit. I agree that NES is better than its current share price and may have long-term viability or even success. As most know, one's perception of a stock is colored by one's entry point. Those entering now with a realistic long-term time frame should be in good shape. Thanks for the valid comments. 27 Aug, 12:28 PMReply! Report AbuseLike3

analemmaComments (24)
How strange it is that MBA, a mere business school student, had the misfortune to appear to be a front for a short seller's assault. How unfortunate that he picked the Saturday before the lightest volume trading day so far this year to release his article to the general public, a day buyers were in short supply to support the stock in a panic selloff. What an odd turn of events that the stock hovered above a 52-week low with an assured torrent of stop losses sitting just below that support level just as the article was released. And to look at it in the light of the easy short money having been made, the industry appears to be bottoming, the shorts need a way out and it's known to have large retail following, poor MBA Value has unwittingly stumbled into a very bad light indeed. 27 Aug, 03:41 PMReply! Report AbuseLike2

DoubleKComments (6)
The service companies have gotten pounded with 4th Qtr 12 Fiscal Cliff issues. The horrible weather through the 2nd Qtr of 13 cannot be underestimated and was addressed by management of numerous similar cos.

We are in a highly cyclical disposable income business dealing with these type companies in the entertainment industry. We are seeing strong moves among these companies at this time and are hearing that things are "ripping".

Long $NES 27 Aug, 09:28 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

johnnymmmmComment (1)
I wish I could write an article, like yesterday's, and make 25% on my short bet!!! 27 Aug, 09:46 AMReply! Report AbuseLike9

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Yeah, it makes one wonder..... 27 Aug, 11:40 AMReply! Report AbuseLike4

Interestedobserver100Comment (1)
MBAvalueinvestor sounds like a Columbia student to me (my alma mater) -- or worse, a wannabe CBS student. If he is, maybe he just got into Greenblatt's class and thinks he's a stock wunderkind. ("SA helped me choose my handle".....yeah, right). Hired as an unpaid intern for the summer, the HF asks him to write a note on NES shortly after his internship ends. Why did they pick this week? Illiquidity in the marketplace and lack of general news.....or, a concerted short effort with other buddies to make their August look great maybe? Why else would the stock react like that? On 4-5x avg volume (which is still tiny even for a small HF. 27 Aug, 12:18 PMReply! Report AbuseLike2

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Yes, I guarantee if I wrote an article about default risk at a stock similar to NES, it wouldn't plunge 20% at the opening. Especially when your talking about a stock that is well-known to have a large amount of debt. 27 Aug, 12:21 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

jdm12313Comments (92)
It does but the result speaks for itself. I don't recall a time where a SA article had that kind of impact on a stock. Was that really the only catalyst for the sell off? I find it hard to believe but that seems to be a common theme these days.

Thanks for the article. I appreciated the balanced approach to the discussion. 27 Aug, 12:32 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

Stan AugartenComments (15)
The article is clear, concise, cogent, amusing, well argued and well illustrated -- that's why it had such a profound impact, even though it's not entirely accurate (but few articles are). Moreover, NES has been overpromising and underdelivering for a long time; it deserved to be taken down, and I say this as someone who's long NES and who has a considerable paper loss on this stock. I didn't realize things were so bad. 27 Aug, 01:04 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

lynmarComments (58)
Stone Fox, outstanding article and without the insults/innuendo that MBA articulated. I hope Richard Heckmann sues MBA for defamation, as I think he has a good case. 27 Aug, 10:06 AMReply! Report AbuseLike5

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Agree, I'm surprised that SA allowed an article with such statements to be published. 27 Aug, 11:41 AMReply! Report AbuseLike3

Stan AugartenComments (15)
Heckmann has no case whatsoever. Nothing in the article even approaches the level of libel -- take if from me, a former newspaper reporter and editor. He's a public figure, chairman of a large, well-known, publicly held company, and as such is fair game for public criticism, even ridicule. 27 Aug, 12:04 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Uh, you can say that a stock has performed bad due to his decisions, but to make claims that he is abandoning ship, trying to escape, and creating financials with distorted reality crosses the line. Maybe not enough for a libel suit, but it clearly exceeds anything factual.

Heckmann would make a big mistake to sue. It would give the writer more credence than he deserves and it would just prolong the attention to the report. Better to just let it die and prove the theory wrong by smashing the Q3 numbers. 27 Aug, 12:24 PMReply! Report AbuseLike2

Stan AugartenComments (15)
The article accuses his company, not him personally, of fiddling with the numbers. As for abandoning ship, it's not an utterly unreasonable interpretation of the situation (whether true or not) and as such a long way from libel. 27 Aug, 12:47 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

slcUTAHComments (375)
I agree. There will be no case. As many of you may already know Blackberry is a company that many 'analysts' like to take a big turd on. A sell side analyst reported not too long ago that more people were returning the Z10 phone than the amount of Z10s Blackberry was actually selling. Huh? What? The stock took a hit and Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins threatened to get the company attorney involved. Nothing has happened to the firm that put out the news. Wall Street is designed for the big guy$. No one cares about the average Joe retail investor.

-Cheers. 27 Aug, 02:55 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

TastychapComments (35)
Great article. I do believe cool heads should prevail. Q3 earnings will tell a lot about NES & it's future. Till then I am holding steady. 27 Aug, 10:20 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4730)
Stone Fox Capital 1246
FollowingFollowFollow Stone Fox Capital Advisors is a registered investment advisor founded in 2010. The firm offers portfolio management with a focus on opportunistic stocks providing secular growth trends at an affordable value. An emphasis is placed on fundamental analysis though charts are used for timing entry... More
Company: Stone Fox CapitalBlog: Out Fox The Street
Latest StockTalk
Funny even with no real news, CNBC can spin it into a massive scare.
about 19 hours ago
Latest articles & Instablog posts
Investors Are Misguided On The Legacy Of Ballmer
Millennial Media Turns Extremely Cheap Again
NeoStem: Making The Transformation
(525 articles)
(219 posts)
Send Message
It will be huge b/c NES must beat the $177M estimate by analysts. Otherwise, management loses all credibility. If the weather was really a big issue, revenues should've been that high last Q making $185M more of a reasonable target this Q.

Oil is surging to $108 today... the Bakken should be booming in Aug and Sep. 27 Aug, 11:43 AMReply! Report AbuseLike1

Mike847Comments (47)
I agree that NES must make or beat the numbers in Q3.

While NES has been subject to a vicious short attack with this MBA article as a new low for Seeking Alpha, now is the time for NES to show these shorts that they can execute on the business.

Maybe MBA did NES longs a favor by putting NES management's backs against the wall on Q3/Q4 execution.

If I were in NES management's shoes, I would be doing everything possible now to ensure execution on the numbers.

The best revenge for the MBA article would be a Q3 beat and a nasty short squeeze. 27 Aug, 11:57 AMReply! Report AbuseLike1

TastychapComments (35)
Great article. I do believe cool heads should prevail. Q3 earnings will tell a lot about NES & it's future. Till then I am holding steady.

Stone Fox CapitalComments (4740)
It will be huge b/c NES must beat the $177M estimate by analysts. Otherwise, management loses all credibility. If the weather was really a big issue, revenues should've been that high last Q making $185M more of a reasonable target this Q.

Oil is surging to $108 today... the Bakken should be booming in Aug and Sep.

Mike847Comments (47)
I agree that NES must make or beat the numbers in Q3.

While NES has been subject to a vicious short attack with this MBA article as a new low for Seeking Alpha, now is the time for NES to show these shorts that they can execute on the business.

Maybe MBA did NES longs a favor by putting NES management's backs against the wall on Q3/Q4 execution.

If I were in NES management's shoes, I would be doing everything possible now to ensure execution on the numbers.

The best revenge for the MBA article would be a Q3 beat and a nasty short squeeze.

WPSPIKERComments (559)
I didn't bother commenting on that OTHER article as I saw thru it's mostly BS fluff and far flung claims. The only issue I have with it is I didn't buy the dip it created by uninformed investors selling out and or shorting it against the article rumor.

Thanks for a NON BIASED view.

M 27 Aug, 10:33 AMReply! Report AbuseLike3

coolcatnipComments (9)
With little expectation of US GDP growth exceeding 2%, it's the Obama Adm. who is most responsible for the malaise in the business environment,.. since obviously this forum is a Bull/Bear make your case opinions vary greatly, but cutsie spreading of rumors, misrepresentations is amateurish and should be called out if you can't make a legit case without mistruths and innuendo then you're an amateur,.."it's the economy stupid!" 27 Aug, 10:36 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

grayhairguyComments (20)
I generally avoid articles on Seeking Alpha. Many of the writers are writing for a fee, not because they know what they are espousing or attempting to articulate. This is one article worth reading as it appears the author has knowledge of the subject. I'm glad I took the time to read it. 27 Aug, 11:15 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

Stan AugartenComments (15)
What's your opinion of NES's deal with HAL? Since H2O Forward enables drillers to recycle water onsite and to significantly reduce their need for fresh water, won't it also reduce the demand for NES's hauling services? How will this deal benefit NES (if at all), and when might we expect to see results?

Many thanks in advance for your response. 27 Aug, 11:20 AMReply! Report AbuseLike0

nomercadies2Comments (3)
It would have been nice to have the views from yesterday and today presented in an article that took looks from both directions. I bought a little more yesterday after I thought about how Haliiburton trusted the CEO and Chairman of the Board of NES to take care of a very important part of their production process. I'm thinking Halliburton looked at NES a lot closer than any of us are able and have a lot bigger investment in all of this coming out on the positive side than we do. 27 Aug, 11:49 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

slcUTAHComments (375)
Could HAL actually be the one behind The Article? Just asking. I don't trust ANYONE.

-Cheers. 27 Aug, 03:00 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

saltydogComments (408)
good article stone fox. I am long nes and will stay for the long haul. a large number of people do not like Jim Cramer, but he repeatedly explained nes is a long term would be great if the company would update activity's a bit more often,weather it be good news ,or bad. the last few sessions have ben good additional entry points. 27 Aug, 11:55 AMReply! Report AbuseLike2

ECapoComments (8)
I agree ...stone did a lot of investors a great favor by exposing some real facts....It is a shame many probably panicked and did not get back in on the dip and MBA and the shorts made them their victims..while making a fortune.. 27 Aug, 12:18 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

TastychapComments (35)
November 4th will be a very interesting day I am thinking. 180m revenue will suit me fine. What say you? 27 Aug, 01:02 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

JbgooseComments (259)
Find it curious as to why a company like Aqua (WTR) who has tremendously expanded, profited from gas M shale wastewater is never mentioned in these SA articles. Perhaps it is a boring utility on paper but look at the financials and read the call transcripts.... Provides a much different view about the biz prospects for all other companies mentioned. Plus those are fully invested, with no boring water utility funding growth and providing a bottom for worse case. ie: HEK has always been a spec, for spec players, in a spec space - the moment spec hedgies programmed systems to play it. When the cats away the mice will play. SA articles moving markets- hard to prove. Editing articles- yes, that is proven and disclosed, talk to the corp office if you cant read all the fine print. 27 Aug, 02:06 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

RayRay77077Comments (118)
Your first chart is misleading and avoids the main issue. Yes, estimates are coming down for all companies but that's not what the original article highlighted. The other article discussed GUIDANCE. There is a difference.

Guidance refers to what management believes is going to happen. Estimates are what analysts think is going to happen. Estimates would have management guidance as just one of many inputs.

Finally, it's not the fact that estimates are coming down that's so bad (although it's not a good thing). The real issue is by how much actual results are missing management's own guidance. Who has more credibility; the company that says they will make a $1 and makes $0.01 or the company that says they will make $0.02 and makes $0.01?

It would be interesting to see estimates vs actual results for each company. 27 Aug, 03:54 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

RayRay77077Comments (118)
If a company relies heavily on acquisitions for growth why would you take out restructuring, integration, and transaction costs? For serial acquirers like NES these are basically operating expenses since they show up frequently. 27 Aug, 04:11 PMReply! Report AbuseLike1

Tauranga48Comments (23)
@ Stone Fox

Accounting rules are not just academic. They are there to make sure that comparisons between companies are like for like, and on a sensible rational basis.

The minute I see lots of adjustments because the writer thinks in his opinion the writers of GAAP are dumb, I tend to discount the writer's argument as panicked fluff. There is too much emotional content in the article. Investors are not interested in Heckman's or Stone Fox's hurt feelings, just a balanced review based on numbers that actually measure business performance as opposed to sell side promotional spin.

Bottom line: The company (regardless of whatever name you call it) is losing money at an accelerating pace, and is heavily leveraged in a rising interest rate environment, Cashflow after allowing for capex (conveniently ignored in the writeup) is negative and worsening. Covenant breaches will lead to restructuring and wipe out equity value. K.I.S.S. 27 Aug, 06:05 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

MBAvalueinvestorComments (71)
All good points, Tauranga.

Really, Stone Fox? Really?? This is the type of analysis some money managers do??? And I can't even find a job? That's frustrating. Your investors should demand more.

On a side note, they should be pissed you published this. You drove the stock down 7.5% today. That's almost as bad as yesterday. 27 Aug, 11:00 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

just-an-opinionComments (6)
I've got my own opinions of the remarks by both MBA and Stone Fox, but I frankly haven't spent much time considering either towards deciding whether to (again) invest in NES.

More globally, I just can't get very excited about their business. In my opinion there are much better industries to throw money at. 27 Aug, 09:45 PMReply! Report AbuseLike0

abewabashComments (5)
Well done 28 Aug, 10:26 AMReply! Report AbuseLike0

JbgooseComments (259)
WTR vs NES - from WTR transcript:

'The company's non-regulated joint venture investment, Aqua PVR Water Services, LLC, was formed in 2011 by operating subsidiaries of Aqua America and Penn Virginia Resource Partners, L.P. to construct and operate a private pipeline system to supply raw water to certain natural gas producers drilling in the Marcellus Shale in central Pennsylvania. The latest phase of the construction, extending the pipeline another 20 miles into Tioga County, was completed in the first quarter of 2013. With the completion of this phase of the construction, it is now capable of providing water to gas drilling sites along 56 miles of pipeline. The first half of 2013 has shown sluggish Marcellus well drilling activity due to low gas prices and restrictive infrastructure for gas transmission, which has resulted in low sales of water for the joint venture. Water sales for gas drilling are expected to pick up in the second half of 2013'

Now: Add in an increased div every quarter, about forever, best in class acquisition, exec team. The new development along the DE river in Philly to deliver LNG overseas where they are directly involved + much more - vs NES. Which stock belongs in a college fund? How about a trader? Which will be around ten years from now? Growth? Diversified? Just facts to ponder, not investing advice nor suggestions that this is a 'best' choice, maybe a wake up for those not studied, just gambling, writing for class credit, like many of us did vs a collegiate 7am wake up. 28 Aug, 11:19 AMReply

     e-mail to a friend      printer-friendly     add to library      
| More
Recs: 0     Views: 439
Previous Message  Next Message   Post Message   Post a Reply return to message boardtop of board

About Us    Contact Us    Follow Us on Twitter    Members Directory    Help Center    Advertise
Not a member yet? What are you waiting for? Create Account
Want to contribute? Support InvestorVillage by donating
2003-2016 All rights reserved. User Agreement
Financial Market Data provided by