Diamondback CEO following a go-it-alone shale strategy

By Michael Bellusci on 11/4/2020

(Bloomberg) --Diamondback Energy Inc. hasn’t participated in the latest wave of shale mergers and acquisitions, and its chief executive officer told investors the company will be just fine on its own.

“Diamondback is not getting left behind if we don’t do anything today,” CEO Travis Stice said on the company’s third-quarter earnings call Tuesday, adding that the company doesn’t need to boost scale to reduce its costs. “We prefer not to make rash decisions at the bottom of the cycle.”

Scale, cost cuts and survival have been major aspects of recent shale deals as drillers continue to face volatile commodity prices, along with battling an ongoing lack of investor interest.

Stice isn’t necessarily buying the rationale on some of the recent deals. “Touting an arbitrary number such as a level of production or market cap deemed to be relevant in our space is both specious and self-serving.”

“This commentary is only coming from companies with those arbitrary characteristics and is not based in fact or proven through operational metrics,” he said.

Pioneer Natural Resources Co. recently agreed to buy Parsley Energy Inc. for $4.5 billion in stock, creating one of the largest producers in the Permian Basin. ConocoPhillips also announced a $9.7 billion takeover of Concho Resources Inc., among other deals that have taken place.

“Patience will be rewarded at the end of the day,” Stice said, adding that “getting bigger does not always translate to getting better.”

Shares of the Midland, Texas-based driller have lost about 69% this year versus the S&P 500 Energy Index, which has dropped about 51% during the same period.

Diamondback boasts 31 buy recommendations, though Barclays recently downgraded its rating to a hold-equivalent, as the bank thinks it could underperform its peers following recent M&A deals.

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