Oh dear, the Dalai Lama has teamed up with eight other Nobel Prize laureates to demand that President Barack Obama put the kibosh on TransCanada Corp.'s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, out of environmental concerns. So far, the stock (full disclosure: I own it) has held up to the rising political pressure, about two weeks after the State Department ruled that the pipeline does not pose a significant risk to the environment – but can it hold on?
Cory O'Krainetz, an analyst at Odlum Brown, reiterated his "buy" recommendation and $45 price target on the stock, arguing that the odds are in favour of TransCanada receiving approval for the project, which will deliver bitumen from the Canadian oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast. Plus, he says that the stock trades at a discount to its peers, based on consensus 2012 earnings estimates.
"We recognize that there are other issues that may also be weighing on the stock price (e.g. rising Mainline tolls, Bruce Power restart delays, lower capacity payments in New York, and a potentially negative ruling in the Sundance arbitration case)," he said in a note. "Therefore, the stock may continue to trade at a discount even after a favourable ruling, but we believe getting approval for Keystone XL represents the biggest hurdle for the company and TransCanada's valuation gap will narrow over the long term."
Still, he implies that good news on Keystone is largely built into the share price already – which is important, given that the pipeline is a $7-billion investment that will improve the economics of the Keystone network already in service.
"Therefore, it would be a big blow to the company and likely the stock price if the pipeline project is not allowed to move forward," he said. "Unfortunately, we are faced with a binary outcome in which investors will either win or lose based on a political decision."