Why Does No One Ask Hard Questions Of Weatherford International?

With oil prices rising and domestic production exploding, you would think any oil field services company would be a good investment, wouldn't you?

Not if someone put you into Weatherford International (NYSE:WFT).

Since its 2008 peak (and split) WFT is down nearly 80%. Yet there are people who still pound the table fot it. Sterne Agee calls its outlook only partly cloudy, and BMO has it at market perform.

What's going on? Analyzer called "internal control issues" back in 2011. That's shorthand for management sucks. It reported $500 million in tax errors last year and brushed it off as "an honest mistake," although it then got a new chief financial officer.

But management is very firmly entrenched. Bernard J. Duroc-Danner rules as chairman, president, CEO and absolute monarch, having been in place since 1988. For running the company onto the rocks he drew a salary of over $17 million, including over 2 million stock options. SEC documents show he regularly cashes out those options.

Jim Cramer calls this one of the worst-run oil field service companies in the world. Some take that as a buy signal but in this case he's right.

As Jeff Williams noted for us last month, this is a company that is piling up debt. For every $1 in shareholder equity, there's $1.22 in debt, he writes, and this has steadily been increasing.

While its peers in the oilfield business like Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) have been doubling and tripling investors' money, Weatherford has been leaking it, yet there is no accountability at the top for this.

Want to know why so few individual investors trust the market? WFT is Exhibit A.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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