Spotlight on Mineral Rights

WSJ: The Underground Way to Earn a 10% Yield in Oil Stocks

Mineral rights entitle these firms, including Viper Energy Partners LP and Kimbell Royalty Partners LP, to the first cut of cash once oil and gas wells begin producing. The royalties they receive usually range from about 12% to 25%. Their place at the head of the line for payouts, plus the fact that they bear none of the drilling costs and keep collecting even if producers drill themselves bankrupt, have helped minerals owners outperform most other energy stocks in a year when investor sentiment has collapsed due to low oil and gas prices and profligate spending.

Mineral rights are a uniquely American asset class. In no other country are most mineral rights owned by ordinary citizens. It is also a highly fragmented asset class, akin to rental houses. The National Association of Royalty Owners estimates that there are more than 12 million private owners of mineral rights. Kimbell calculates the total market value of mineral rights at about $550 billion, of which public companies own just 2% or so.

The principal way to acquire mineral rights has usually been to inherit them. “Never sell your minerals” is a marketplace adage. These days, though, that bit of country wisdom is being cast aside by many who have inherited the rights to oil and gas royalties. The result is a consolidation by Wall Street of assets that have long been an integral part of intergenerational family wealth.

Wild that TPL wasn’t mentioned.  Thanks to a reader for the heads up on this article!


Growth Stocks Trading At Reasonable Prices

In 1888, the Texas and Pacific Railway went bankrupt. Stockholders lost everything but bondholders ended up owning the railroad’s land holdings, now called the Texas Pacific Land Trust (TPL).

Based in Dallas, the trust, still traded on the New York Stock Exchange, owns about 900,000 acres of land in West Texas and rents it out for cattle grazing and oil exploration. It also actively buys and sells parcels of land.

For the past five years, this land trust has shown 48% average annual earnings growth; last year was even faster. Encouragingly, TPL has shown a profit each year in the past 15 years. Another strong point: It has enough cash to cover all of its debt.

The stock sells for 17 times earnings.

What debt?


If You’ve Got a Roadshow Meeting

Awesome deck.  I’m still absorbing.  Here are a few questions I’d ask:

1) Tell me about the 19 years.  How is that calculated?  How can I do it myself to verify?



2) 7% of royalty acreage is developed.  What’s the pragmatic maximum that this figure can get to.  It can’t be 100%.


3) When is that cash being returned?  And why is it in the slide deck as an ROC now?


3Q 10-Q


Some observations in no particular order:

  • “During the nine months ended September 30, 2019, we purchased and retired 6,258 Sub-shares. During the nine months ended September 30, 2018, we purchased and retired 39,768 Sub-shares.”
  • DUC wells now 424 vs 369 at the end of Q2.  15% jump.  Someone has been busy.
  • $250MM in cash on the balance sheet
  • $87MM in PP&E.  34% growth YTD
  • Water has made $65MM top line YTD.  Up 37% from same period last year.  Top line is generally supposed to grow faster than PP&E, right?
  • $24.7MM in operating expenses during the quarter.  2.4x vs same quarter last year
  • “For the nine months ended September 30, 2019, the Trust sold approximately 21,986 acres (13,180 acres in Loving County, 5,675 acres in Culberson County, 1,651 acres in Hudspeth County, 843 acres in Reeves County, 636 acres in Midland County and approximately 1 acre in Glasscock County) of land in Texas for an aggregate sales price of approximately $113.0 million, with an average of approximately $5,141 per acre.”
  • “For the nine months ended September 30, 2019, the trust acquired approximately 21,671 acres (Culberson, Glasscock, Loving and Reeves Counties) of land in Texas for an aggregate purchase price of approximately $74.4 million, with an average of approximately $3,434 per acre.”
  • I wish we had more details on rationale and benefits of the land swap above.  Flat in acres, took out some $$ (great), but is ending acreage accretive to the grand plan?  How so?
  • EBITDA language from the press release did not carry over to the Q
  • “Legal and professional fees were $5.6 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019 compared to $0.6 million for the comparable period of 2018. The increase in legal and professional fees for the three months ended September 30, 2019 compared to 2018 is principally due to approximately $4.9 million of legal and professional fees related to the proxy contest to elect a new Trustee, the entry into and payments made under the settlement agreement dated July 30, 2019 and the conversion exploration committee as disclosed in the Trust’s Current Report on Form 8-K filed with the SEC on July 30, 2019. We anticipate receiving a partial reimbursement of these legal and professional fees under coverage provided by our director and officer insurance policy. The amount of the reimbursement has not yet been determined.”
  • I’m surprised the D&O underwriter wrote a policy given the Trust structure of the company and it’s (now abused) governance limitations.  I’m guessing they regret it
  • “Salaries and related employee expenses were $8.5 million for the three months ended September 30, 2019 compared to $4.1 million for the comparable period of 2018. The increase in salaries and related employee expenses is directly related to the increase in the number of employees from 58 employees as of September 30, 2018 to 89 as of September 30, 2019 and additional contract labor expenses for the three months ended September 30, 2019 compared to the same period of 2018.”
  • “Texas Pacific is not involved in any material pending legal proceedings.”  ??