The Oil Market’s Massive M&A Wave Has Devon Energy on the Outside Still Looking for a Deal

Energy companies have signed over $180 billion in merger agreements over the last six months. However, Devon Energy (NYSE: DVN) has gotten left out of the current merger wave washing over the oil patch.

The oil producer has reportedly pursued several acquisition targets, only to lose to a competitor. Because of that, the company won’t get the merger-fueled boost its rivals expect to see in their deals.

Here’s a look at the deals Devon reportedly missed and potential targets the oil stock could pursue next.

Coming up short again and again

In early February, Reuters reported that Devon Energy had approached Enerplus with an acquisition offer. A tie-up with the Canadian oil company would have boosted its position in the oil-rich Bakken of North Dakota and given it a stake in the gas-rich Marcellus.

However, rival Chord Energy swooped in and sealed a deal with Enerplus later that month. The merger will boost Chord’s scale, enabling it to save $150 million annually while boosting its free cash flow.

Before that, Devon Energy was reportedly considering a bid for CrownRock to boost its position in the Permian Basin. However, rival Occidental Petroleum agreed to buy CrownRock for $12 billion in December. Occidental expects CrownRock to boost its free cash flow by $1 billion during the first year, assuming oil averages $70 a barrel (about $10 a barrel below the current price point).

The company has also reportedly held merger talks with Marathon Oil. However, those talks have yet to lead to a deal.

Several of Devon’s other rivals have found merger partners. Diamondback Energy bought Endeavor Energy Resources in a $26 billion deal to create a leading producer in the Permian Basin. Natural gas producers Chesapeake Energy and Southwestern Energy also agreed to merge in a $7.4 billion deal that will create the country’s leading gas producer. Meanwhile, big oil behemoths Exxon and Chevron kicked off the current wave after sealing deals worth roughly $60 billion apiece to buy Pioneer Natural Resources and Hess, respectively.

Where does Devon turn to next for a deal

While Devon has missed out on CrownRock and Enerplus, many options remain. Wall Street analysts who follow the oil industry have highlighted several smaller companies that could be targets for a larger player, including:

  • Permian Resources: The largest pure-play producer in the Delaware Basin with over 400,000 net acres.

  • Matador Resources: The company is a leading producer in the Delaware Basin with 152,000 net acres. It also has operations in the Eagle Ford and Haynesville.

  • HighPeak Energy: The company owns 132,000 acres in the Midland Basin.

Devon Energy could target any of these companies. It has a sizable position in the Delaware Basin side of the Permian that it could enhance by acquiring Permian Resources or Matador. Meanwhile, Matador would be a further strategic fit by increasing its scale in the Eagle Ford. HighPeak Energy could also work by expanding Devon’s operations into the Midland side of the Permian.

Another possibility is to check back in with multibasin producer Marathon Oil. Combining the two would enhance Devon’s scale in several regions where they have overlapping operations.

On the flip side, Devon could consider putting itself up for sale. Few companies have the scale needed to acquire a company of Devon’s size ($30.6 billion market cap), especially now that Exxon and Chevron have already found their acquisition targets.

However, it might be of interest to ConocoPhillips, which, like Devon, struck out on its rumored acquisition targets (CrownRock and Endeavor). Another possibility is Chevron if its deal for Hess falls through.

Devon still has options

Devon Energy has yet to capitalize on the current merger wave washing over the oil patch. However, it has evaluated several deals, so it’s not for lack of trying.

The company still has options, including being the acquisition target instead of the acquirer. The right deal for the right price could enhance value for its investors by increasing the combined company’s scale and ability to grow its free cash flow.

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Matt DiLallo has positions in Chevron and ConocoPhillips. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Chevron and Enerplus. The Motley Fool recommends Occidental Petroleum and Pioneer Natural Resources. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The Oil Market’s Massive M&A Wave Has Devon Energy on the Outside Still Looking for a Deal was originally published by The Motley Fool