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Third Avenue Management Comments on Total S.A.

September 12, 2013 | About:
Holly LaFon

In reviewing our investment in Pargesa, Fund Management noticed that the largest component of its NAV, the common stock of Total S.A. (TOT) ("Total"), was very attractively priced and worthy of a stand-alone investment. Based in France, Total is the fifth largest publicly-traded integrated oil and gas company in the world. The company was incorporated in 1924 and expanded materially through the acquisitions of Petro Fina S.A and Elf Aquitane in 1999 and 2000, respectively. Total has 11.4 billion barrels of proved reserves and annual production of 2.9 million barrels per day (including share of equity affiliates). The company's operations are geographically diverse with reserves distributed as follows: Africa (26% of reserves; 24% of production), Asia (23% of reserves; 20% of production), Americas (19% of reserves; 10% of production), Middle East (17% of reserves; 31% of production) and Europe (15% of reserves and production). Total has significant midstream and downstream operations with interests in 31 pipelines, including eight that it operates and 20 refineries, including nine that it operates.The company is one of the world's leading liquefied natural gas("LNG") players with interests in nine existing plants plus three under construction and an additional four under study. Finally, the company has 14,725 service stations, including 9,100 and 4,500 in Africa and the Middle East,respectively.

Total's management team, led by Chairman and CEO Christophe de Margerie, has an impressive long-term track record: book value per share has compounded at a 15% annual rate over the last ten years (including dividends) during which the company has never lost money.Total has a very strong financial position, and the shares,which offer an attractive 6%dividend (qualified) yield,were purchased at about 7x earnings and a 25% discount to our estimate of net asset value.

From Third Avenue Management’s third quarter 2013 letter to shareholders.


Rating: 4.3/5 (3 votes)

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