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We are downgrading our recommendation on Stone Energy Corp (SGY) to Underperform from Neutral. The company missed our expectation in the third quarter of 2012 and its quarterly earnings also plunged 54.7% from the year-earlier profit level, mainly due to lower price realization and higher operating expenses.
The spiraling lease operating expenses added to Stone Energy's woes due to high seasonal maintenance costs and the effects of Hurricane Isaac. Again, its results are heavily dependent on growth visibility at its onshore properties as well as the outcome of various deepwater exploration prospects.
Given these headwinds, we expect the shares of Stone Energy to be under pressure in the near future. Our $19 price objective reflects a 2013 P/E multiple of 9.2x.