Wood Group shares soar amid Barclays ESG boost

Shares of Aberdeen-based global engineering group Wood plc rose about 6% on Friday following a positive note from Barclays Capital analysts who reaffirmed their “overweight” recommendation on the Scottish group.

The analysts said Wood’s qualities as an environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investment were unrecognized.

Wood employs more than 50,000 people in more than 60 countries.

“While revenues are under pressure, margins are under control and the company is well placed to benefit from changing energy demands,” wrote the Barclays analysts.

The analysts called Wood one of the strongest ESG plays “having solar, hydrogen and wind exposure as well as a broad-based engineering offering.”

Wood shares rose about 6% to around 248p to give the company a current stock market value of about £1.7 billion. Barclays Capital raised its price target on Wood to 330p from 300p.

Wood shares collapsed from 370p to 137p in March at the start of the coronavirus crisis — but have staged something of a comeback in recent weeks.

Goldman Sachs recently upgraded its investment rating on Wood to buy from neutral.

And on August 18, Wood’s shares rose after it published half year results for the six months ended June 30, 2020, that came in “at the upper end of guidance” despite volatility in oil prices and the impact of Covid-19.

Wood said it had seen “relative resilience” in two thirds of its revenue stream which is derived from chemicals and downstream, renewables and built environment markets.

First-half revenue was $4.1 billion, down 14.7%.

Wood, which has been shedding non-core assets to cut its debt, said its net debt excluding leases was cut by 31% to $1.22 billion by June 30. 

Wood’s first-half adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell 20.6% to $305 million, at the upper end of the company’s forecast.

The company’s order book at June 30 was down 16.4% to $7 billion.