As Oil Stabilizes These 4 Stocks Could Be Big Takeover Targets in 2017

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What a difference a year can make. This time last year, oil was in the mid $20s and some of the naysayers on Wall Street were saying that the per-barrel price could dip into the teens. In what can only be described as a huge change in sentiment, the black gold has more than doubled from the lows and seems to be stabilizing now in the $50s. Top companies that weathered the storm are leaner and meaner, and may be looking for acquisitions to grow.

Each year the analysts at RBC come out with a detailed list of smaller companies they feel are targets for acquisitions. While they shoot for a broad range of companies, they are generally successful in finding targets that are hit. Of the 535 companies they listed as potential targets last year, 29 were eventually acquired, or a 5.4% success rate.

We screened the energy companies and found four that look extremely attractive.

Diamond Offshore Drilling

Offshore drillers have been hit extra hard, and this leading stock is a possible candidate to be bought. Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. (NYSE: DO) provides contract drilling services to the energy industry worldwide. It provides services in floater market, including ultra-deepwater, deepwater and midwater. The company operates a fleet of 32 offshore drilling rigs, comprised of eight ultra-deepwater, seven deepwater and eight mid-water semi submersibles; five jackups; and four drillships. It serves independent oil and gas companies, as well as government-owned oil companies. The company is a subsidiary of Loews.

The company posted solid fourth-quarter results that beat on both revenue and margins. However, first-quarter guidance was softer due to a temporary cost hike. Most top analysts on Wall Street feel the company can fare better this year given a very solid balance sheet and a young fleet by industry standards.

The Wall Street consensus price target for the stock is $16.73. Shares closed above that level Thursday at $17.49.

Dril-Quip

This company made the list last year and remains in the buyout mix again in 2016. Dril-Quip Inc. (NYSE: DRQ) designs, manufactures, sells and services offshore drilling and production equipment for use in deepwater, harsh environment and severe service applications worldwide. The company provides subsea and surface wellheads, subsea and surface production trees, subsea control systems and manifolds, mudline hanger systems, specialty connectors and associated pipes, drilling and production riser systems, liner hangers, wellhead connectors and diverters.

The posted consensus price target is $57.32, and the shares closed above that level as well at $64.30.

Oceaneering International

This is another deep water driller and a contrarian play that could have potential as a takeover target. Oceaneering International Inc. (NYSE: OII) is a global provider of engineered services and products, primarily to the offshore oil and gas industry, with a focus on deepwater applications. Through the use of its applied technology expertise, Oceaneering also serves the defense, entertainment and aerospace industries.

The company recently announced that Rod Larson, who currently serves as the president, has been designated to succeed Kevin McEvoy as chief executive officer, immediately following Oceaneering’s 2017 Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which is scheduled to be held on May 5, 2017. This change at the top could also be a positive for takeover potential.

The consensus price target is set at $29.85, and the shares most recently closed trading at $28.30.

Rowan Companies

This solid value play in the energy sector could be a target this year. Rowan Companies PLC (NYSE: RDC) is a global provider of contract drilling services with a fleet of 29 mobile offshore drilling units, composed of 25 self-elevating jackup rigs and four ultra-deepwater drillships. The company’s fleet operates worldwide, including the United States Gulf of Mexico and the U.K. and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea, as well as the Middle East and Trinidad.

While deepwater demand is still not as strong as the land drillers, there has been some speculation about consolidation in the industry, and that makes a lot of sense as oil prices rebound.

The consensus price target is $17.58, bit the shares closed on Thursday at $18.62.

While there is absolutely no guarantee that these companies are acquired, they all are interesting contrarian value play stocks to buy in aggressive growth portfolios on their own. The buyout factor just gives them another reason to be considered.