) to hold from buy.
Analyst Michael S. Scialla says he is downgrading partly on valuation, as the stock is up 46% this year vs. his group's average appreciation of 34%. He also downgrades on a diminished outlook for two emerging plays.
He notes that the results of the first 6 Bakken re-entry wells in North Dakota, where single laterals have tested at an average rate of only 125 barrels of oil per day (Boe/d), vs. 300-to-760 Boe/d in Montana, have been disappointing. Meanwhile, permitting issues could prevent the company from ramping development of its Powder River CBM project as quickly as he previously thought.
Scialla sees $2.31 2005 earnings per share, and $1.85 for 2006.