MARKETS SPECTATOR: Woodside gas trap

Analysts are putting the acid on Woodside because while it's generating solid returns and may soon be debt free, its growth prospects are limited.

Whither Woodside? The oil and gas producer’s 63 US cents per share special dividend to shareholders is a total payout of $500 million. Some analysts were expecting more, as much as $1 billion. The dividend may not be able to gloss over questions about the company’s production and exploration success in Australia and its foreign initiatives. Double-digit declines quarter on quarter in production, sales and revenue have analysts questioning Woodside’s operational efficiency compared with peers. Analysts are also beginning to mutter darkly about Woodside’s exploration unit, particularly in Western Australia’s northwest shelf. Woodside’s rivals Chevron and Hess have been more successful in the discovery of new gas fields, some quite significant.  

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