Total, SA Tweaks Portfolio
French integrated oil giant Total, SA (NYSE: TOT – $64.80) said it signed an agreement to sell the 25% stake it holds in a shale gas project in Ohio to two Korean companies for $400 million as part of its vast program to sell non-essential assets and liberate cash for investing in oil and gas production and exploration. Total owns a 25% stake in the Cardinal Gas Services LLC, a company that operates the infrastructure to gather and ship the gas produced in the Utica shale deposit in Ohio. The company also owns and will keep a stake in the extraction of hydrocarbons in Utica, however. Total is also seeking a sale of its 17% minority stake in the Gulf of Mexico’s Tahiti oil field, a transaction estimated at between $1.5 billion and $2 billion. The company has announced plans to sell $10 billion of assets in 2015-2017 and the wells it does not control are among those plays that Total is focused on selling. And finally Total said it would co-lead a $22 million funding for NexSteppe, a start-up venture that is developing commercial-scale feed stocks for bio fuel companies. Other investors participating with Total on the project include ELFH Holding, Braemar Energy Ventures and DuPont Ventures. TOT shares have slumped lately along with the price of oil, but Total’s ADRs offer a high dividend yield of 5.2% and provide good 3 to 5 year total return possibilities, which I believe make them most suitable for conservative income investors.