Energy Business

RBC Makes Bold Offshore Drilling Call by Upgrading Top Companies

After years of underperformance, and a general disdain for the entire sector, Wall Street’s dislike of offshore drilling and offshore services may be nearing an end. For years, analysts have focused on the top shale producers and onshore drillers, as they were able to move into areas loaded with oil and gas and extract both commodities in a very economical way. Now, however, the tables may finally be turning some.

A series of new reports from RBC make some bold calls on the sector, and while hardly pounding the table, they are becoming cautiously optimistic on the offshore drillers. They noted this:

We are observing an improving environment for offshore drillers. Contracted rig utilization has already bottomed and we’ve begun to see modest improvements with idle rigs going back to work. Company tone has definitively improved with commentary indicating more term contracts at positive margins.

Again, while not being overly optimistic, they do see positive trends that may be marking the beginning of a turnaround for the long-suffering sector and investors. Six companies are covered and may make tantalizing plays for aggressive, patient growth investors.

Diamond Offshore Drilling

Some have recently speculated that this top driller is a takeover target. 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 mid-water.

The company operates a fleet of 24 offshore drilling rigs, which comprise four drillships, eight ultra-deepwater, six deepwater, five mid-water semi submersibles and one jack-up rig. It serves independent oil and gas companies and government-owned oil companies. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in Houston, Texas, and is a subsidiary of Loews.

RBC raised the stock to a Sector Perform rating from Underperform, and the firm’s price target is set at $15. The Wall Street consensus target is $12.92. The shares were trading on Friday at $11.35 apiece.

Frank International

The RBC team is very positive on this company, and they upgraded the shares to an Outperform rating. Frank International N.V. (NYSE: FI) provides various engineered tubular services for the oil and gas exploration and production companies in the United States and internationally. Its tubular include the handling and installation of multiple joints of pipe to establish a cased wellbore, as well as the installation of smaller diameter pipe inside a cased wellbore to provide a conduit for produced oil and gas to reach the surface.

The company also designs, manufactures, sells and distributes outside diameter pipes, connectors and casing attachments, and it provides specialized fabrication and welding services in support of deep water projects, including drilling and production risers, flowlines and pipeline end terminations, and long length tubulars for use as caissons or pilings.

RBC raised its price target to $10 from $9. That compares to a posted consensus price target of $8.64. The stock was trading on Friday at $6.45 a share.


This company is a big player in the Gulf of Mexico. Noble Corp. (NYSE: NE) operates as an offshore drilling contractor for the oil and gas industry worldwide. It owns and operates a fleet of mobile offshore drilling units. As of February 23, 2017, the company operated a fleet of 28 offshore drilling units consisted of 14 drillships and semi-submersibles and 14 jack-ups.

The analysts at RBC feel that the company will be able to put idle or stacked rigs back to work over the next two years, and they raised the stock to Sector Perform from Underperform.

The $5 RBC price target for the shares is higher than the consensus target of $4.42. Shares were last seen at $3.30 in Friday morning trading.