Forget peak oil: Big-rig play yields a mammoth 8.5%

Its operations are diversified in both equipment and geography.

By InvestorPlace May 8, 2012 9:32AM

By Lawrence Meyers


I'm big on oil. I love oil. Forget all this nonsense about peak oil and all the green-energy freaks. While solar stocks crater and the federal government blows taxpayer money guaranteeing loans to loser companies like Solyndra, oil marches on.


The only stocks almost as good as a direct oil play are oil service companies. I've come across a Bermuda operation known as SeaDrill (SDRL) that is in sound financial shape and pays a mammoth 8.5% dividend.


SeaDrill's operations are diversified, owning about 20 of each of the primary types of rigs: ultra-deep-water, semisubmersible, jack-ups and tenders. No matter what depth you want to drill at, SeaDrill can do it.

Beyond rig diversification, the company also has spread its operations across the globe, with rigs at work in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, West Africa, the Middle East, the Asia Pacific region, the North Sea and the Norwegian Continental Shelf.


The other factor driving SeaDrill's position is that rig demand is outstripping supply, which allows rig operators to jack up prices in addition to oil. Indeed, daily rates are at all-time highs on all types of rigs except for jack-ups. With demand at the pace it's going, SeaDrill is waiting on delivery for 14 new rigs, giving it even more opportunity in the space, and it should add as much as $1.3 billion in cash flow by 2015.


This additional supply is critical for SeaDrill to take advantage of market conditions. Its present fleet has kept revenue growth from being all it can be by relying only on rises in daily rates. The company's most recent earnings report showed a 4% increase in revenue and a 9% increase in diluted earnings per share.


An examination of financials might initially give investors heartburn when they see that free cash flow was negative to the tune of $727 million. But that's because of all the money it's spending on those new rigs. That's a very acceptable use of capex, if you ask me.


Despite this, the company still paid out more than $3 per share in dividends in 2011, and will probably do close to that this year. But investors should at least take note that SeaDrill's dividend, while large, tends to fluctuate.


With day rates on the rise -- and some speculation that they'll continue moving up from here -- the worldwide demand for oil being a relative constant, and a sizable fleet at its disposal, SeaDrill would make an excellent addition to either regular or retirement portfolios. I expect to see capital gains as well, possibly significant ones, as the new rigs come online.


As of this writing, Lawrence Meyers did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. He is president of PDL Capital, Inc., which brokers secure high-yield investments to the general public and private equity, and he writes at


More from InvestorPlace

May 8, 2012 11:10AM
avatar calling with no supported opinion doesnt amount to much.
May 8, 2012 1:46PM

Interesting your article came out on a day that SDRL dropped 4%.  I sold it 2 days ago (usually I buy just before something drops 4%) but intend to buy back once this oil price situation stabilizes.  I've been very happy with it.


May 8, 2012 1:52PM
Re peak oil... whether that's true or not, it is immaterial to whether SDRL is a good investment or whether their business will continue to be sound.   Oil will be around for a long time; even if we've peaked, it's not about to drop off a cliff, and even if it becomes more scarce, this would likely be a good thing for SDRL and oil prices.  So, who are the idiots?
May 8, 2012 1:39PM
No Monopoly Steve..........decebalvs is right the author of this article Lawrence Meyers starts name calling in the 3rd sentence thus loosing all credibility making him an idiot.
May 8, 2012 10:46AM
I love oil too, but you're an idiot my friend
May 8, 2012 2:15PM

Don in Hawaii,


I didn't see any name-calling in 3rd sentence or thereafter.  Just facts.  Nobama (now this IS name calling) blowing my money on silly alt energy schemes, jacking up food prices with ethanol, etc.  So God bless oil, which is my 1st amend right to proclaim, and my 2nd amend right to "correct" those who need attitude adjustments.  =O)


So, Don, go back to your surfboard while you collect your fake-**** SS disability check.  


Ooooh.  I just love good old-fashioned name calling.  =O)


BTW, I love SeaDrill.  Drill Baby Drill!  The closer to CA and MA coastlines, the better.

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