BCV Asset Management Inc. has recently completed the sale of BCE Inc. and EnCana Corporation across all portfolios. Their
comments are as follows:
“The decision to sell BCE Inc. reflects our assessment that the company’s shares are now trading at fully-valued levels. BCE is Canada’s leading communications company and its shares are currently trading near the levels seen prior to the recent recession when a private equity group led by Ontario Teachers Pension Plan attempted to acquire the company. BCE has weathered the competitive impact of the new wireless competitors quite well, but increased competition in the wireless sector is invariably based on price, which eventually compresses margins and adversely impacts financial results. The federal government has publicly indicated that it wishes to see decreased wireless costs in Canada, which could lead to policy changes that are unfavourable to BCE, Rogers and Telus. BCE is also following an unproven convergence strategy through its recent purchase of CTVglobemedia. The challenges of intensified competition and an unproven convergence strategy further reinforce the valuation-based decision to sell BCE.
The decision to sell EnCana Corporation reflects both the challenges faced by the company and a decision to perform tax-loss sell-ing. Natural gas prices in the North American market have been persistently low for a number of years, while inventories remain high and shale gas drilling in the United States adds to these inventories. Export markets have little impact on the price of natural gas because there is insufficient capacity to export meaningful amounts of liquefied natural gas. While a cold winter could provide some respite to pricing, the impact would likely be short-lived, as it would encourage even more drilling. EnCana has historically hedged its production at higher prices, protecting them from lower spot prices. However, EnCana has hedged only about one-third of its production in 2012 and very little in 2013. Natural gas spot prices are lower across all future delivery months and well under 4 dollars per thousand cubic feet of natural gas, which will have an adverse impact on EnCana’s cash flow. EnCana has been slow to reduce capital spending and shift their focus from depleted gas wells, while having increasing debt levels and a significant dividend to support. EnCana has outstanding assets, but the company will be challenged if natural gas prices remain low, which we believe is a strong possibility. We will continue to follow EnCana and we could re-establish our position when the prospects for EnCana and the North American natural gas market eventually improve.
We have used the proceeds of the BCE Inc. and EnCana Corporation sales to add to existing positions Cenovus Energy Inc., Imperial Oil Ltd., Royal Bank of Canada, and Suncor Energy Inc. In the case of Royal Bank and Suncor, we have added companies that have underperformed recently, but in which we have better confidence in their near- and longer-term prospects. We have also used these transactions to increase our weighting in the energy sector and to emphasize oil over natural gas.
BCV Asset Management Inc. has also recently completed the sale of Abbott Laboratories across all portfolios.
The decision to sell Abbott Laboratories was based on the combination of Abbott’s recent announcement that they will be splitting into two companies. Abbott will split into a diversified medical products company which will retain the Abbott name and a yet-unnamed research-based pharmaceuticals company. Although this split is not expected to be completed until the end of 2012, the stock price has advanced on this news and we have used this as an opportunity to move out of the now fairly-valued Abbott.
We have used the proceeds of the Abbott Laboratories sale to add to existing positions in Medtronic Inc. and Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., as we believe these companies are undervalued at current prices.”
If you would like to discuss your personal situation further, please contact our office at 780-490-4200.