Ah, for the old romantic days when swashbuckling geologists and wildcatters wandered the oilpatch in search of black gold.
If that sort of thing appeals to you maybe you want some Bill Barrett Corp (BBG) in your portfolio. And it's on sale.
BBG is presently hovering right around its 52-week low, a key price point for stocks of all kinds. Investors who preach "buy low and sell high" know that buying near a low is a great way to make good profits, if the companies you buy aren't heading for the scrap heap.
Barrett isn't going away. It reported 10% more production in its most recent quarter, and it's continuing to increase its reserves. The company is going for domestic oil as well as gas in the Rocky Mountains, and finding it in large part thanks to hydraulic fracturing technology.
Fracking makes previously-exploited oil fields worth drilling again, and it's why we now have a "bubble" in natural gas supply, one that has driven the price of the fuel down to new lows even while oil prices remain high. BBG grabbed new leases at the end of the Bush Administration.
So why is the stock down? Mainly it's because of that gas bubble. Frackers went too far over the last few years, bringing new fields to market, and there is now an over-supply. Thus even some BBG insiders are selling and the stock is being downgraded.
Bears note that its revenue growth trails that of the industry and that its "quick ratio" could cause problems. But the overall debt-to-equity ratio is strengthening, as the company has used rising revenues to keep debt down.
Whether you're interested in a stock like BBG depends on how you feel about the gas glut. Is it temporary, or will it be permanent? Will the industry find a way to control supplies in order to maintain prices, or will prices continue to go down?
Personally, I don't think this is a stupid industry. If you agree pick up some BBG.