Continental Resources loses $15 billion in market capitalization

By David Wethe on 8/7/2019

HOUSTON (Bloomberg) --It’s such a bad time to be a publicly traded oil company that Harold Hamm, the billionaire founder and CEO of Continental Resources, was asked whether it’s still worth it.

“In today’s market, we don’t see a lot of value in it,” Hamm said Tuesday on the company’s earnings conference call, in response. “But we can’t control the market. We can control what we’re dealing with here on a daily basis, and that’s what we’re doing.”

Hamm, 73, who owns 76.57% of Continental, has seen the company shed about $15 billion of its market capitalization since October. It’s now valued at less than $12 billion.

Shares of shale producers have taken a beating in recent months as investors grow increasingly impatient with the sector’s track record of burning cash without producing enough returns. The S&P index of independent explorers has tumbled 51% since early October.

In little more than three months, Hamm’s net worth has shrunk by roughly $3 billion, to about $9.4 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

But Hamm said the latest share buyback program by his Oklahoma City-based company, which focuses on the Bakken shale of North Dakota, isn’t aimed at going private. Rather, the goal is to purchase stock that’s undervalued, he said.

“We believe the buyback coupled with dividends and capital discipline, which we’ve exhibited for a long time, will ultimately return value to where it should be fairly traded,” CFO John Hart said on the call.

Shares of Continental briefly spiked above $32 shortly after Hamm’s comments, but pared gains to close 0.3% lower at $31.46 in New York.

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