All posts by Structurer

The burden of Karma is heavy as Noble crosses the gates of death.

Noble Group has the symptoms of schizophrenia. Their delusion and demise were never “their” fault or caused by the actions of “their” traders.

Caught in-between and dancing on losses, the high rollers have painted it as because of : “liquidity constraint impacting trading and earnings generation”. For Noble Group “the problem” must be the exact solution, they have punted for working capital everywhere from the MD&A to the Press/Investor Communication and Strategic Review…

In the financial statements* for the six months ending on 30 June 2017 eloquently sums up the financial substance of Noble Group:

  • Noble presents itself as a  $2B net equity company with an $1,45 MtM unaudited Gains on Derivatives company*
  • The trader has -$763 million negative OCF with a net debt increased by nearly $1B to $3.81B.

* unaudited.

The Energy Segment accounts for 90% of Noble Revenues in 1H-2017.

Noble Group Business

Noble Group Limited Revenues by Segment, 1H-2017

The Energy Segment traded at a loss of $226 million during 1H-2017 (excluding financing costs and salaries).

That’s more than -$1.25 million per business day… Monday to Friday but the business is run smoothly. Of course no.

But in the world of Noble shortlisters rush on a “bargain” 🙂

.

“Sale of Global Oil Liquids Sales process commenced with shortlist of bidders–bids expected in Q3 2017”

-Strategic Review Update–26 July 2017

Noble nasty.png

 

Investor Presentation Q2-2017 P.6

Out of Control

The Non-Performance of Global Oil Liquids should not be that shocking knowing the “Book now, think later” at the company. It lacks the management to impart performance.

Noble had two or three large take-of-pay deals in the U.S but the wind has changed as it always does in the physical energy markets.

The burden of Karma is heavy as Noble crosses the gates of death:

The hostile work environment includes daily vulgar and disgusting comments from male employees about vaginas, sex, male genitalia, and verbally abusive language using the word ‘f—‘ explicitly. constant abuse.”*

During 2012-2016, at the office in Stamford, Plaintiff’s seat was next to the gasoline traders which includes video conference cameras connecting with London and Houston offices.

The commentary back and forth on the Stamford desk for everybody within earshot to hear, frequently became vulgar and disgusting. This created a hostile work environment.

*Ramos V Noble Americas Corporation.

It is the last tango act of an unprincipled trader-assaillant.

Noble did the financial engineering for years and years and then the showgame broke. The typical assumption of a 40% recovery rate may indeed be too optimistic.

PwC has signed Noble’s Financial Statements but performance has inevitably caught up the accounting gimmicks.

Noble Group has generated negative cash-flows from the operations to the tune of

-$1600M in 2014
-$600M in 2015
-$900M in 2016,
-330M for Q-1 2017

and -433M for Q2-2017

As of Q1-2017, Noble Group incoherently booked $3,4B of Marked-to-market Fair Value gains on toxic derivatives and commodity contracts.

“In order to produce $3.4B of MtM gains one would have to buy nearly 958  million metric tons -the equivalent of 6937 Capezize cargoes Richards Bay-Qingdao, China or 5 voyages per week for the next 13 years”.

“Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the $3.4B MtM mark used by Noble Group translates to coal hedges at 479 USD/MT !”“The Argus APi2 CIF Rotterdam futures is in the $60s/mt..

As of Q22017, this MtM mark has been impaired by $1.2B. Paul Braugh did by necessity what Elman, emotionally attached, and Alireza, accelerating the Noble train course to a financial bottomless pit, couldnt do.

A Toxic Legacy

Net fair value gains now stands at $1.455 billion as of end-Jun 17. 

fairtoarrive net equity of $2B* is still rather delusional for a company not producing any plus-value -Noble is losing operating cashflows at a rate between -3.5 and -$6.5M per business day in the recent quarters.

*unaudited financial statements.

Noble’s position is irreparably compromised. 

Noble group has no intrinsic value (by Discounted Cash-Flows).

The firm offers no viable future for patient capital.

Their leverage futures-physical trading model has too much impediments to break-even.


The Noble Files 贵族档案

 

The War on Women

You would think that the most educated people are the most “Noble”.

These 56 pages are a Gold mine of abuse.

Wendy Ramos is head of chartering in the well-known Stamford trading outfit.

She is referred as the oldest employee. The lawsuit states that Ramos was treated differently than at least five male counterparts in terms of pay, bonus and renumeration.

The hostile work environment includes daily vulgar and disgusting comments from male employees about vaginas, sex, male genitalia, and verbally abusive language using the word ‘f—‘ explicitly. constant abuse.”

A Day on the trade floor.

During 2012-2016, at the office in Stamford, Plaintiff’s seat was next to the gasoline traders which includes video conference cameras connecting with London and Houston offices.

The commentary back and forth on the Stamford desk for everybody within
earshot to hear, frequently became vulgar and disgusting. This created a hostile work environment.

It was a constant back and forth across the Stamford desk of sexual innuendo and inappropriate commentary.

For example, on October 1, 2015, there was a discussion around the smell of fish and a women’s body that was extensive.

This happened on the trading floor in an open space. Sushant [Sushant Koduru] left sushi on EL’s (a female employee) desk. EL said to Sushant and the other men that she didn’t want the sushi.

In response, Sudeep  says to Dmitri [head gasoline trader], “EL is offering out her sushi to everyone,” with intonation of a sexual nature regarding her vagina.

EL encourages the behavior an repliesand laughs, “Who wants my fish? Everyone wants my fish!”

The men around me were giggling among themselves.

Then EL comments, “It’s very fresh!” To which Sushant smiled and replied, “I’m sure! Koto Approved.” 🙂

HR Policy “D cups”

On or about, 2015, Plaintiff was told that Jeff Frase (CEO) and

Mike Kerrigan-Human Resources had a meeting whereby they were discussing restructuring (firing) staff.

Plaintiff was told that Jeff said that they had to keep Blair Shrewsbury, a young intern, because she was the only “D” cups on the floor, whereby Jeff and many others laughed about it, including the HR executive.

blanc

Incompetence & Arrogance

The Lawsuit alleged that James McNichol  and his team lost Noble well over 85 million dollars in the year he left Noble’s employment.

James McNichol came to Noble from Trafigura where he had been accused of being the trader behind a deal that unlawfully disposed of oil waste slops in Nigeria that ultimately caused serious illness of multiple people who came in contact with the disposed slops.

Plaintiff’s first experience with James was during a “Team Building” meeting held in

Barcelona Spain during October 9 11, 2009. Plaintiff was asked to attend and give apresentation relating to the Chartering desk. It was clear from the start of meeting that James had his own agenda for the Oil Group.

blanc

Managing the company money.

The entire trading team at the time was in Barcelona where on the first night Plaintiff went to dinner with the group and then to an early night in.

The next day during the Team Building presentations several men were missing. As they showed up in the afternoon hours of the day, the rumor was that the men were not present because they were hung over. As the day progressed, it was said through conversations that these men were out all night at a strip club. After the event, James submitted the “expense” to Ted for reimbursement.

If you run into trouble, just tell a lie to the customer.

blanc

On or about, 2009, on information and belief, James McNichol told the London operations manager, Zelda Harina, that she needed to convince the inspectors to lie about quality outcomes on cargoes.

James wanted her to do this to make more money. She refused to urge the inspectors to lie and she ultimately quit because she would not do what he asked.

During this time at Noble, on information and belief, James proceeded to make questionable trading decisions that were losing the Oil desk millions of dollars.

blanc

 Book now… think later

For example, he took on overpriced storage, taking on multiple time charterer ships for Gas and Diesel without consent from Ted.

The spreadsheet below that shows that Noble at that time had taken approximately 670,000 MT for floating storage versus Vitol (the largest trader in theworld) was 2nd with 300,000 MT than the total trading market.

mogas on water

blanc

Plaintiff sent this spreadsheet to Ted and asked him to do something about James’ injurious actions.

Not only was he hostile to her, now his behaviors were damaging to the company’s bottom line.

However, nothing was done.

blanc

At the end, the unsold cargoes, and empty storage finally caught up to the oil traders, and ultimately James and his team lost Noble well over 85 million dollars in the year he left Noble’s employment.

Can you understand why Noble Group is in a liquidating death spiral ?

Can you understand better Noble Group will soon cease to exist, evidently somebody messed-up big time.

The Noble Files 高贵组文件 研究

Nothing good out of Noble camp

“Salad Dressing”

On Dec 31th 2016, the coal and gas PnL is up by about $500M with no reason, simultaneously the MTM on Commodity Contracts was also up by the tune of $500M ?!

Negative CFO -900M for Q4 told a different story than their P\L that we can only tell.

In the past we have expressed reservations about the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Nobles Financials as well as the risk that financial losses would continue.

gative CFO -900M for Q4 tells a different story than their P\L that we can only tell.

To us there should be no excuse for non-performance. Its toleration shows the kind of risk management that Noble had.

In commodity trading, the unfolding of the Tradetocash is plainly and simply the bread and butter.

When the firm is questioned, and it’s unclear from the answers they give how they make the bread plus this firm doesnt show the butter : there is a problem and it should be stopped.

“At Astra Oil Trading N.V, “ASTRA” we had to least produce enough steam for $1.6M (to cover our 8 salaries, office overheads and misc expenses…) before making any profit in our pockets. It was the low-hanging food set by the line manager”.

On day one, I was told my raison d’être: we hire and pay you specifically for one reason, protect the cheese“.

Until December 31th, at 15 to Midnight it was like skating on the thin ice over a lake“.

A First class Operator in Conmodity Trading.

Via http://wp.me/p3k7lL-62i

The negative significance of Noble (來寶集團) Mark-to-Markets Gains on Derivatives and Commodity Contracts

Noble Group at the dusk of an agonising death spiral.

The only reproach that one could do to Iceberg Research is that he didn’t communicate well enough his message so people understand the negative significance of this $3.4B MtM or on what Noble Group (來寶集團) underpins its financial substance: a skeleton.

What is MtM and how a $3.4B MtM would translate into coal hedges)…  

Noble group fraud mtm

noble group enron

Mark-to-market (M-t-M)

To mark-to-market is to calculate the value of a financial instrument (or portfolio of such instruments) at current market rates or prices of the underlying.

http://www.risk.net/definition/mark-market

Example for illustrative purpose:

On 1 Jan 2017: Noble buys 2,000,000 MT for June 2019 delivery at $59/mt. It turns immediatly in the derivatives market and sells the equivalent of 2,000,000 MT of paper contracts. This is the Coal API2 Argus futures contracts.

This is the Coal API2 Argus Futures Contracts.

COAL API2.png

Timeline

1 Jan 2017: Noble has a +MtM of 0 (Contract price is $59 and the Argus Futures is at $59)

1 Feb 2017: The Argus Coal API2 futures is at $64,25. The +MtM on the coal contract is +$10,5M

20 March 2017: The Argus API2 Futures dropped to $59,25/MT The +MtM on the coal contract is +$500K

1 May 2017: The Argus API2 settled at 62,55 and the +MtM on the coal contract is now +$7,1M

Noble Group MtM on Coal contract:

mtm coal noble group.png

At any given time, the 2,000,000 MT of Coal produces a MtM gains between $500K and $11.5 millions.

seanergy-maritime-capesize

Capezize Ship

When Noble announced a first-quarter loss of $130m— it blamed largely on ill-judged coal trades—and it warned that it might not return to profitability until 2019.

Can you better put in context the warning that it might not return to profitability until…

These “Hedging losses” are rather because of a mismatch between the level of profits booked on these contracts and their underlying cash-flows.

In order to produce $3.4B of MtM gains, Noble would have to buy not 2,000,000 MT of coal , as in this example, but book nearly 958 million metric tonsthe equivalent of 6937 Capezize cargoes Richards Bay-Qingdao, China or 5 voyages per week for the next 13 years…

This represents a considerable tonnage even for the largest firms of the industry (Cargill, Rio Tinto, BHP, Vale, Anglo American)  all put together and more than 1.21 year of world coal production*

 

 

the Noble Files 高贵组文件 研究

**According to BP statistical review of word energy 2016, the world coal production was 786.1 million tonnes (2015)…

This time Noble (來寶集團) will work for itself, not for the banks…

Last year we predicate that refinancing Noble (來寶集團) would be a lose-lose deal in which everyone would end up looking bad.

 

“At some points the Banks must get out, must unload the RCF risk with the red pill and it means that Noble will work for the Banks”.

“This is the equity offering of a company with very questionable or no prospects, transferring risks to retail investors”.

In short, this is a lose-lose deal in which everyone ends up looking bad”.

Refinancing Noble: a Lose-Lose Deal

March 16, 2016 

–  the Noble Files 高贵组文件 研究

The only thing we got wrong in 2016 is that some Banks would still accept to refinance the liabilities of Noble (來寶集團) on the back of an equity raising.

The investors have eaten the red poison pill and we simply overestimated their level of sophistication.

Can anybody look back and say it was good to let Noble raise more than 1.2B in equity offering and bonds ?

  • The 750M bond raised is traded at 40c on the dollar.
  • Equity investors who also subscribed to the 500M share rights issue at 0.20/share are now at 0.03…


Success can’t be imposed on this circus.

As of Q1-2017, Noble Group (來寶集團) had $3,4B of marked-to-market fair-value gains on derivatives and commodity contracts.

What does the $3.4B MtM figure represents ?-this MtM is not contracts that can be liquidated to cash.

Given that the Operating loss is created by a mismatch between the level of profits booked on these derivatives and commodity contracts and their underlying expected cash-flows, the real nature of this MtM can be viewed as an expensive liability that Noble (來寶集團) has to roll-out.

Noble (來寶集團) has even pushed back against guidelines in Singapore for disclosing information on its executives’ remuneration.

Perhaps Noble (來寶集團) needs to raise another 2B to pay coming debt retirement (reassure the lenders that they refinance the fair to arrive net equity on a future solvency basis) – as the book doesn’t generate positive cash-flow since 44 months.

It is no longer a working capital shortfall that we observe but the liquidation of a trader  (virtually silent in the physical market)…

Lenders will choose to roll up credit. IF not, they precipitate a restucturing which is told to be not in the interest of the 2020 and 2018 bond holders (FT).

 noble group fate.png

It should be pretty clear.

This time Noble (來寶集團) will work for itself, not for the banks.

On the road show, Noble has asked the permission to decrease its net equity.

It wants to set its own “term sheet” and its covenants to be relaxed, exactly the opposite wanted by the other side.

4 Banks are long with a $1.5B exposure left with this intermediate situation :

 

 

the Noble Files 高贵组文件 研究

Banks Chasing the”tails” in Hong Kong -The Noble Group (來寶集團)

Noble Group (來寶集團) has no or few audited flow supporting their 48B$ sales of commodities.

According to the industry, their turnover, by any account, would appear as vastly overstated.

At an average of 10 days shipment and with cost of the goods sold of $48.58B FY16, the average inventory in transit recorded by Noble would have to be at least $1.256B. The the audited number was only $2.6M FY16.

FY2016 The average transit time of Noble was now 0,019 days, either implying that Noble has used scuds to ship the company  or that the corporation had a COGS inflated by 10 to 15 times in 2016.

Noble Group inventory in-transit

Noble Group Ltd. Financial Statements 31 December 2016

As of May 2017 the company had YTD losses (330) Millions in operating cash-flows but self-assessed itself with a net equity of $3.849B while of this net equity is tied to the fair value gains of its derivative and long-term commodity contracts.

Iceberg Research, the research firm has challenged Noble Group (來寶集團) over mark-to-market accounting of these contracts.

Bankers know that the last 24 months have been punctuated by a series of catastrophes, credit downgrades and bizarre resignations at Noble.

CEO ex-GS Alireza, Mr. Elman and Noble Group’s chief financial officer Robert van der Zalmin in particular who has stepped down from his position after taking a leave of absence for “health reasons”.

Traders (smart money) have also left at the right time. (Fabrizio,Steve Bader, Paolo B, Ted, Doug M..)

As of Q1-2017, Noble Group (來寶集團) had $3,4B of marked-to-market fair-value gains on derivatives and commodity contracts.

What does the $3.4B MtM figure represents ?-this MtM is not contracts that can be liquidated to cash.

noble group enron

Mark-to-market (M-t-M)

To mark-to-market is to calculate the value of a financial instrument (or portfolio of such instruments) at current market rates or prices of the underlying.

http://www.risk.net/definition/mark-market

Example for illustrative purpose:

On 1 Jan 2017: Noble buys 2,000,000 MT for June 2019 delivery at $59/mt. It turns immediatly in the derivatives market and sells the equivalent of 2,000,000 MT of paper contracts. This is the Coal API2 Argus futures contracts.

This is the Coal API2 Argus Futures Contracts.

COAL API2.png

Timeline

1 Jan 2017: Noble has a +MtM of 0 (Contract price is $59 and the Argus Futures is at $59)

1 Feb 2017: The Argus Coal API2 futures is at $64,25. The +MtM on the coal contract is +$10,5M

20 March 2017: The Argus API2 Futures dropped to $59,25/MT The +MtM on the coal contract is +$500K

1 May 2017: The Argus API2 settled at 62,55 and the +MtM on the coal contract is now +$7,1M

Noble Group MtM on Coal contract:

mtm coal noble group.png

The 2,000,000 MT of Coal produces a MtM gains between $500K and $11.5 millions.

seanergy-maritime-capesize

Capezize Ship

In order to produce $3.4B of MtM gains one would have to buy not 2,000,000 MT of coal , as in this example, but nearly 958 million metric tons – the equivalent of 6937 Capezize cargoes Richards Bay-Qingdao, China or 5 voyages per week for the next 13 years… plus an equivalent position in the derivatives.

This represents a considerable tonnage even for the largest firms of the industry (Cargill, Rio Tinto, BHP, Vale, Anglo American) put all together.

According to BP statistical review of word energy 2016, the world coal production was 786.1 million tonnes (2015)…

An inevitable conclusion is that Noble uses a mountain of derivatives to maintain its MtM coal pile or … something else

Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the $3.4B MtM mark used by Noble Group(來寶集團)  translates to coal hedges at 479 USD/MT– The Argus APi2 CIF Rotterdam futures in the $60s/mt.

So…. Accounting fraud …. ?

Won’t  be the first time…

These days Noble is looking to refinance a $3.849B net equity. which has more the financial substance of a “Fair-value to-arrive equity” (sic)

This happens at a moment when Noble has just screwed up both its recent fixed income investors and shareholders.

The thing that frightens banks the most is not having a good risk management process in place because it opens the possibility of financial losses and frauds. A trader with no risk management is like playing roulette; double or quits.

Fraud is the worst nightmare for any bank specialized in commodity lending, but some will always chasing the“tails” in Hong Kong no matter what.

the Noble Files 高贵组文件 研究

Noble’s only escape is to borrow more debt to cover its debt service and booked net equity.

Like Wilmar, Noble had not 2 but 3 years to renovate itself and they failed.

  • Noble Group (來寶集團)  has generated negative cash-flows from the operations to the tune of
    -$1600M in 2014
    -$600M in 2015
    -$900M in 2016,
    -330M for Q-1 2017
    Noble has no intrinsic value by DCF. The book is not performing.

The market is not over-reacting.

The question is now rather about how Noble can still suggest that they are a $3.9B equity company (” their fair-to-arrive net equity”). 

Simply because Noble knows it cannot devalue its substantial booked value.

  • Q1 Noble Group Limited.png
  •  Bye Elman, the chairman and co-founder has officially resigned.

Noble has screwed up itself, its fixed income investors and its shareholders.

  • Only two months ago investors were lured by a 8.75% coupon  750 million unsecured bond. The maneuver was purposely to win time and bridge financials until Noble could conclude a potential deal with an acquirer (Sinopec).
  • No immediate performance catalysts suggest that this transaction is even remotely possible.

Noble nobbled.png

  • This unsecured bond issued at a 8.75% is now trading at 50. We no longer talk of yield to maturity but recovery rates.
  • This bond has to be refinanced next April.
  • By what ?
  • You need to factor if Noble can issue another 750M bond this time at 18-20% coupon and assume that the same investors bited by the snake will want to lose 100 to 50.
  • Equity investors who also subscribed to the 500M share rights issue at 0.20/share are now at 0.05.
  • Can some undisclosed aspects of Noble performance could have made the company less attractive to these investors ?


-The trader has lost $5.5M of Operating cash-flows at the end of each business day Monday-Fri during Q1.

How a serious bank will support the financing on no acceptable performance ?

Noble Group (來寶集團) is now two things; coal and oil liquids.

Credit lines have been granted on the performance of the oil liquids, the so-called “ebit indestructibility” of the Noble oil liquids segment but for Q1-17 the operating income from Supply Chains of $27M doesn’t even cover the interest rate load on this segment.

As alluded earlier, Noble Group is again in the sights of the credit agencies.

S&P questions the financial guearing of Noble. 

Noble’s only escape is to use a 2nd credit card to cover its $220M annualized interest bills and refinance its “fair-to-arrive” net equity. 

We are heading towards a restructuring event.

Noble Group: Anatomy of a Zombie Trader

Noble Group Says Listing Top Execs’ Pay Would Hurt Its Standing…

Noble Group Ltd., the embattled commodity trader, has pushed back against guidelines in Singapore for disclosing information on executives’ remuneration.

What  would hurt more Noble Group’ standing than the compensation of their Managing Directors that the company has refused to advertise in an exchange query: It’s shaky financials.

Noble Group has booked gains on these contracts to the tune of 102% of shareholder equity as of April 2017.

The company has unrealistically booked large profits on long-dated contracts ($3.6B), the value of which relies on input assumptions that are not market-observable…

Two small things to worry about Noble’s are the valuation and the uncertainty of the cash realization of these gains.

One of these gains booked is on a 10 years offtake agreement with Sundance Resources (problem: it’s a junior Australian miner with production starting in 2019 (opps!)

Noble has repeated that these contracts were correctly valued. Then in 2016, 48 hours before the publication of their FY15 annual results, Ernst & Young suddenly realized that these contracts had to be impaired by $1.1b.

At least if you were a buyer, you would expect to pay for assets generating positive cash-flows.

Problem is that Noble Group has generated negative cash-flows from the operations to the tune of and -$1600M in 2014, -$600M in 2015, and -$900M in 2016 (and I also reckon that its cash flows from operations didn’t even covered the cash interests expense of its debt service in Q2-2016…)

Noble group has no intrinsic value (by DCF).

It remains difficult to value them and put a ballpark price but no, the current price share doesn’t reflect the accounting issues and net equity issues of the trader.

OCBC bank and many analysts at brokerage houses bave simply stopped the coverage the company. Compliance officers now refuse them to cover the company on reputational risk.

It is also said in the market that the company is likely also good candidate for a downgrade by S&P.

The trader has lost its access to their counter parties in the commodity market because of stricter limitations to deal with them now. (must put down collateral to execute trades that in the past required none)

If one wishes to be very conservative:

Exclude the $1.6B inventory from its liquidity it belongs not to shareholders but is used by Noble as the collateral to pony up $5B borrowings with the banks (because Noble Group also celebrates the envied 4th position among the top 10 commodity borrowers in the world…).

The cash realization of these gains:

Noble’s “Net Fair value on commodity and derivative instruments”. End FY 16, the net gain in fair value stands at 2,776,419,000 while end FY 15, it stood at 3,178,351,000.

Noble should have realized approximately 400,000,000 of gains, however cash flow shows its has only realized about 234,234,000 in gains (57% of the amount).

The valuation of these gains:

So one could conservatively remove the fair-value gains from Noble’s net equity computation, or give it a haircut of say 60%) when valuing the company.

Have you hear about something called inverse-leverage

The problem is that it cannot be done because a depreciation net fair value G/L gains on commodity contracts of -19% would render Noble Group insolvent and precipitate the Asian trader into liquidation.

The further that the coal API2 curve goes on the Bloomberg terminal is 5 years… I’m curious how does William Randall, Coal Kingpin Australian brainmaster of Noble Group pulls out a 30 years mark-to-market gains. what’s that !

Do people realize that IF Noble Group contracts were properly valued a long time ago a credentiate trader (such Castelton Commodities) or and investor (like Temasek) could have bought them out.

This said, the thought process at Noble isn’t very different from the rest of the industry peers (Glencore…)

e.g MDs in independent units, under minimal supervision have crafted positions that have bleed into outright wagers. With limited trading views, constantly fight the HQ to punt more working capital.

Their entrance in some commodity markets has been always marked by spectacular moves.

Their tactic has been volume is at any cost, throwing their weight around; (Noble Agri, Noble Americas…)

This has naturally created a pattern of brutal exits.

Noble Group 4th position on the top 10 commodity borrowers

Congratulations to Noble Group who now makes the top 4th position on the top 10 commodity borrowers list

Figure_1

With $5B, Noble Group makes the top 4th position on the top 10 commodity borrowers list. Cautionary tale:  We need to know with some precision what Noble are actually using the money for.

Noble is known remarkbly active in the financing market but less in the commodity market.

The struggled acquisition of Noble Agri by Cofco has shown how difficult it is to impose success to a company’s assets with a substantial booked value despite no acceptable performance and very few financial substance (if not any of it).

 

The Noble Files 贵族档案

More people doubt the revenues of Noble Group.

Noble Group inventory in-transit

Noble Group growth seems very artificial,  volume is at any cost in order to compel name recognition.

A great deal of criticism should be levelled at Noble Group for their lack of financial substance.

How can any trader in the world have an Inventory-in-transit of $2.6M for a  cost of goods sold of $48.524B ?

sales peers noble

If we believed Noble, by its revenues, the Singapore-listed trader would be a trading giant second to Mercuria, (company with traceable flows and assets).

However the revenue per employee of Noble’s peers, only brings more questions about the veracity of Noble Group reported revenues and volume.

noble employee per sales

The revenues/employee of Mercuria and Gunvor put Noble Group in the   88.4B$  revenues fork.

At $101M per employee and the sales of Mercuria, Noble would have estimated $8B revenues.

At $4.9M per employee and the sales of Gunvor, Noble would be a $8.4B revenues company.

The audited inventory-in-transit, the level of RMI, and the peers analysis both place Noble as a company with implied revenues 11X to 12X less than the amount reported.

It is not clear how Noble can claim a turnover of nearly $100B per year with an unaudited physical traded volume of 182 million metric tons (2016) and 183 million metric tons (2015).

Noble is known very active in the financing market.

Yet no evidences have suggested that the physical operation of Noble  possesses any of the hallmarks normally associated to one of the largest commodity trader (chartering of ships and by tonnage)…

Noble Group has generated negative cash-flows from the operations to the tune of

-$900M in 2016,

-$600M in 2015

and

-$1600M in 2014.

Worse, the core of its booked net equity which is 102% of fair value gains/losses booked on assets.

How a company with no acceptable performance can still present a net positive equity of $3.92B ?

With $5B, Noble makes the top 4th position on the top 10 commodity borrowers list.

Figure_1.jpg

TXF data

Cautionary tale:   We need to know with some precision what Noble are actually using the money- for ato-arrive net-equity” that the trader has  to continuously re-finance.

The struggled acquisition of Noble Agri by Cofco has shown how difficult it is to impose success to a company’s assets with a substantial booked value despite no acceptable performance and very few financial substance (if not any of it).

Noble is known as remarkably active in the financing market but less in the commodity market.

These anomalies only reinforce our belief that Noble is not even close to one-fifth of the $97 billion sales company it touts to be.

The Noble Files 贵族档案

Sinochem and Noble Group Americas Take-or-Pays.

Noble had two or three large and lucrative take-of-pay deals in the U.S but the wind has changed as it always does in the physical energy markets.

How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ?

Oil liquids had an EBIT of $646M in 2015, thanks specifically to three deals on Colonial, Magellan and Explorer pipelines. noblegroupreasearch.wordpress.com 2016/06/06

Noble has confirmed that it is losing money since  at least 8mth on the pipelines as we predicated earlier. noblegroupresearch.wordpress.com2016/11/21 

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Noble Group Financial Performance Presentation FY16

Note the

“However, profitability was significantly impacts by working capital constraints as we managed for liquidity, inhibiting the business’ ability to enhance margins by monetizing the embedded optionality in the franchise”

The U.S oil liquids business has operated at a loss $23M during Q4-2016.

Now caught in-between, with losing positions the trader frames it as “it’s because of liquidity constraints” as it tries to sell this U.S oil liquids unit to Sinopec.

This is the also company who has burned $900 millions in OPERATING CASH-FLOWS in 2016 but printed an accounting profit… only figure.

The Noble Files 贵族档案

Noble, from Speed boats to Hypersonic Missiles.

The Transit Time on Colonial Pipeline, if you go from one end to the other (Houston to New York) is about 16 days.

Most of ship voyages in Asia are less than 10 days but apparently this is too much for Noble Group.

seanergy-maritime-capesize
Are Conventional Ships now too slow for Noble Group Ltd  ?

At an average of 10 days shipment and at with a cost of the goods sold(COGS) of $48.58B FY16, the average inventory in transit recorded by Noble would have to be at least $1.256B , problem is that the audited number is only $2.6M FY16.

FY2015 the average transit time of Noble was 3.5 days.

FY2016 The average transit time of Noble, is now 0,019 days. It either implies that Noble has used hyper sonic missiles or that the corporation has a COGS inflated by 10 to 15 times in 2016.

If Noble, has always self-proclaimed itself as a corporation of +1000 employees working on busy trade floors, even more doubt their revenues.

Yet, none of the evidences suggest that this operation possesses the normal footprint associated to one of the largest commodity trader.

They have gone from cargoes put in the speed boats with the Elmans… to the Mach 5  speed with captain William Randall.

Noble Group inventory in-transit.png Audited Financial Statements 31 December 2016

The Noble Files 贵族档案

Noble Group’s “Fair-value to-arrive equity”.

The Net Equity (Assets-Liabilities) is used by lenders to fund a trader.

Noble Group has not built net equity, losing more than $3B in Free-cash-flows over the last 29 months.

This is the loophole:

The backbone of Noble Group’s net equity represents future gains on commodity contracts that are re-evaluated/impaired only once a year under IFRS 13-Fair Value Measurement. Net Fair Value G/L on commodity contracts accounts for more than 102% of Noble Group’s equity.

Not only this FV on G/L can be improperly valued.

Noble has also to fund this “Fair-value to-arrive equity”.

Noble is not worth its book value, or even 62% of its book value. It is worth much less than that, if there is any residual value left. Discussions are only at early stage and due diligence typically takes six months to a year. Any potential investor needs to value the commodity contracts, which are the heart of Noble’s financial manipulations. This includes the fair value gains ($4b, nothing less than 102% of equity) but also importantly the future liabilities ($1.7b). The investor has to make sure that no off-balance commitment is hidden, etc. This is a very lengthy process. After we published our reports, Noble kept repeating that these contracts were correctly valued. Then 48 hours before their 2015 annual results, Noble and its auditor, EY, suddenly realized that these contracts had to be impaired by $1.1b. Oops!…

So are commodities contracts (assets and liabilities) correctly valued now? Of course, they are not. Noble has been battling liquidity issues for months and any trader would have sold these contracts a long time ago if they were valued correctly.

read more

How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ?

In 9 months, Noble’s operations burnt $801m in line with the expectations.

Oil liquids are the core assets of Noble.

One month ago we asked How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ? raising serious  doubts about real profitability of the business line  and its line manager.

“Oil liquids had an EBIT of $646M in 2015, thanks specifically to three deals on Colonial, Magellan and Explorer pipelines.

Knowing that:

  • Noble Oil Liquids operates in the [1 – 1.8] % sub-margin band and accounts for more than 70% of the operating income of the supply chains at Noble.

  • Several traders have cut their bilateral opened-credit lines with the “big swinging dick”.

How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ? “

oilliquids

Noble Group 9M-16 Investor Presentation

Note the “However, physical and pipeline flows in the various liquids products remained strong”-Strong deals in the  red  should be added.

Noble has confirmed that it is losing money since  at least 8mth on the pipelines as we predicated earlier.

To  get  a good appreciation of the situation, one has to go back 2015 take snapshot 9M2015 and realize that the credit lines have been backed by  the ebitda  indestructibility of the Noble oil  liquids segment.

nobleliquids2015.jpg

Noble Group,  Financial  Presentation, 9M-2015

We are in the lose-lose phase and simply cannot believe the banks will go unprotected warehousing the revolving credit facility (RCF) risks.

The credit swap is pricing a default.

The Noble Files 贵族档案

Noble Americas Energy Solutions: Is Noble framing a situation different from the reality ?

If you were sitting on a trading desk like Noble Americas Energy Solutions, expecting power prices to follow record loads last summer, you would have been be sorely disappointed.

In August, Peak power prices for ERCOT, during the record demand, averaged near mid-$40s/MWh, hardly a level one might expect when compared with events in the past as prices were seen moving up and sometimes in the $400s/MWH territory for real-time markets.

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THE ENDANGERED BUSINESS MODEL OF NOBLE AMERICAS ENERGY SOLUTIONS:

In most cases, when a market is short on supply, this situation presents an opportunity for someone like NAES to step up to fill in a gap.

-Short-term contracts that typically involves scheduling in the day ahead market and selling when the prices are moving up. 

-With respect to volatility, these contracts do not generate profit at a low variance. 

-NAES are also securing the shorts under long-term contracts, selling power to counter-parties assuming that higher electricity prices will materialize over seasons, years.

In a presentation, Noble valued these contracts at a book-value of more than $1.45 billion.

It is not a coincidence if the Singapore-listed trader, who is at the center of a profit accounting dispute, has hired Morgan Stanley for the disposal of Noble Americas Energy Solutions. 

Why aren’t they de-listed ? 

To facilitate the disposals is the 1ST REASON.

The current market situation in the U.S power is not a compelling business future case for Noble Americas Energy Solutions, (path dependent for the group own survival). 

This should cause a little concern among those who are trying to determine the intrinsic value of NAES currently on the sale block.

They have lost more than $3B in FCF over the last 24 months.

During Q2, the cash-flows from the operations didn’t even covered the cash interests expenses of their debt service.

Given that the trader is not generating cash and cannot expand its borrowing base, we can only assume that they are told that they have to sell Noble Americas Energy Solutions to repay the debtload. 

This is at 20-50% below the advertised book value to hit a bidder => and the house will consequently have to raise a significant shortfall in equity to repay the loans its lenders $3 billion, hence outlining the second and last REASON explaining why the Noble Group counter has remained listed on the Singapore Exchange at the present time.





How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ?

products

“One trader in the states keeps making huge money every year on pipeline deals, without him the story of oil liquids as a whole would be completely different.”*

 

  • Oil liquids had an EBIT of $646M in 2015, thanks specifically to three deals on Colonial, Magellan and Explorer pipelines.
  • In the past because they had just to sit  and were making money.
  • Now the majority of these deals are the red, some are losing -1c/gal/cycle, the trader has to keep losing money only to conserve its priority on the lines and fill its contracts until an arbitrage arise.
  • It is publicly known that the value of the lines have dipped into negative values for the shippers like Noble (implying no price arbitrage) –
    e.g

    the Positive MTM Fair Value MTM that the trader has on these commodity contracts has also to be marked down.

  • The trader has no refineries and unlike BP and Shell cannot afford to lose money each day in transportation to regain everything in cracking margins and volume % market share.
  • It is well-known that Noble is Asia’s largest commodity trader but its role in America has remained largely ignored in the public.
  • FYI Noble Oil liquids is shipping in excess of 1 million barrels per day, it is the largest gasoline blender in North America.

 

Knowing that:

  • Noble Oil Liquids operates in the [1 – 1.8] % sub-margin band and accounts for more than 70% of the operating income of the supply chains at Noble.
  • Several traders have cut their bilateral opened-credit lines with the “big swinging dick”.

 

How the “core assets” (contracts) are now performing ? 

Resignation of Noble Group’s CEO, Yusuf Alireza

Iceberg Research

Mr Alireza was recruited four years ago by Noble. His first day as CEO of this large physical trader was his first day in the commodity business. The learning curve has been a painful experience for the company’s shareholders: the share price fell by 76%. Noble dramatically underperformed traders that can be short or long commodities. The trader even underperformed some producers that are structurally long.

Mr Alireza is not responsible for all the accounting issues at Noble. The dubious mark-to-market did not start with him. The level was already suspiciously high under the previous CEO, Ricardo Leiman. Mr Alireza also found Noble in poor shape after his predecessor made investments in sugar assets at the very wrong time. This would plague Noble’s performance for years.

But Mr Alireza could have walked away from a company increasingly dependent on accounting alchemy to hide bad results. Instead, he embraced the system…

View original post 328 more words

“The Big N”

On May 17, Fitch has joined Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in cutting the Hong-Kong trader to junk, citing a shift toward a short-term financing would weaken their debt profile to a point they could no-longer be investment grade”.

“Noble has lost US$1.5 billion in bank lines. Trade and other payable has decreased by US$1.271 billion with approximately 50% due to the tightening of the Group’s uncommitted unsecured bank lines which resulted in a reduction in the availability of term letters of credit”.

Noble Group MD&A Q1-2016  p.18

“The decrease in trade and other payables was due to: “in the money” Oil Liquids futures contracts rolling off with corresponding decrease in cash margin liabilities to brokers which are included in trade and other payables; and the tightening of the Group’s uncommitted unsecured credit lines.”

Noble Group Q1-2016 Presentation p.10

Continue reading “The Big N”

Bye Bye positive Cash-Flows; Welcome MTM Gains ?

 

Today Noble’s narratives are muttered, find only why.

Refinancing is reported under-subscribed and on highly disadvantageous terms.

Continue reading Bye Bye positive Cash-Flows; Welcome MTM Gains ?

Noble Group’s Cliffhanger

 

 

2010:  Harry Banga splits… most of Noble problems start here.1

2015:  Noble Group, one of the biggest traders of commodities from coal to iron ore is melting from its base.

Script writers have devised the solution of telling us a story  but leaving it at a cliffhanger, thus forcing the market to postpone their execution to hear the rest of the tale.

A villain was designed and a lawsuit with an injunction was filed with the Hong Kong High Court asking to ban his research, hoping to ensure the audience will return to see how the characters would resolve the dilemma.

Continue reading Noble Group’s Cliffhanger

Won’t Pay the Benefits ?

It is well-known in the industry that staff movements are frequent (each 3 months) and lateral moves are common at Noble Group Ltd. The company is characterized by its high HR turnover.

noblegroupresearch.wordpress.com has learnt that at least 20% of the Houston Office trade floor were sacked on Monday March 14.

noblegroupgame

Continue reading Won’t Pay the Benefits ?

Profit and Losses (P&Ls) in Real Terms

P&L IN REAL TERMS

You’d expect to have the P&L stated by US$ 100,000 of capital used.

 Noble profitability

Figure-4 Noble Group Profitability per $US 100,000 of capital

Figure 4 tells us that if Noble Group’s profit is too low / expansive in real terms.

In all fairness, Noble Group doesn’t make it and if is was a trade floor at a bank, they’d be cut out.

The commodity trading unit is at least two to three times less than the threshold that a JP Morgan or a Citigroup would set PER $100,000 for their proprietary capital.

Bankers, arguably the experts in risks, do not trade a very-low profitable book and lend money to the cash-addicted company instead of trading directly.

You would also expect to have the P&L PER US$ 100,000 of capital stated in relative terms:

cargill profit

Figure-5 Noble Group Profitability per $US 100,000 of capital vs Cargill

GHOST SHIPS

By all accounts, the physical oil or coal volume traded by Noble Group Ltd. would place them in the world’s largest charterers of ocean-going vessels.

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Figure 2- Segments Results

Can the commodity trader seriously trade over 3 Million barrel equivalent per day ?

“Don’t kid yourself, with Noble you can easily cut the apple in 4 or 5 “.

 Legendary oil trader

energy fixtures noble group

Figure 3- Top Reported Dirty Spot Charterers for 2015

150 Millions metric tonnes of Oil liquids is a volume greater THAN the SUM of:

ST SHIPPINGShipping arm of Glencore.

CLEARLAKE, Shipping arm of Gunvor.

TRAFIGURA…

CSSA, Shipping arm of Total S.A

and the Shipping arm of BP all combined…