PKN Orlen will benefit at the operating level from nose-diving crude oil prices as its margins are increasing, but the reported profit will be burdened by inventory revaluation, the company’s CEO Jacek Krawiec told TVN CNBC yesterday.
Based on PKN’s (and particularly on Lotos’) share price performance, the market was well aware that refined product prices would be unable to keep up with falling oil prices, which has led to widening cracks spreads and consequently increasing gross refining margins. However, we warn against excessive optimism, as this was precisely the case in 4Q08 when oil prices fell off a cliff and refining margins held up quite nicely: however, as most people know, this positive trend did not last for very long. Another interesting question mark hangs over how long this massive de-coupling between the crude oil price (or commodities if you like) and the equity markets can continue. Since the year’s peak on 23 February 2012, Brent has fallen almost 30% while the S&P 500 and WIG20 have remained broadly flat. Although the recent decline in oil price can partly be explained by overproduction (most notably by Saudi Arabia) and seasonality, weak economic readings in all parts of the world have undoubtedly played a relevant role as well. The latter, however, has yet to be reflected in equity valuations.