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I am thoroughly convinced that the offshore drilling industry is in the early stages of a powerful upcycle. This upcycle should drive higher dayrates for offshore drilling rigs and this should lead to higher profits for the companies that own, operate, and manage these rigs. This should lead to strong returns for shareholders. With that in mind, I have decided to begin tracking the returns of some of the largest offshore rig contractors. I believe that this will provide yet another way for investors to evaluate the various companies when making decisions about their portfolios.

On March 5, 2012, SeaDrill (NYSE:SDRL) opened at $39.70. It closed at $38.80 in after hours trading on March 16, 2012. This gives the stock a loss of $0.90 or 2.3% over the two week period. SeaDrill went ex-dividend during the period and so shareholders who held the stock for the period will receive a dividend of $0.80 per share. If we back that out of the capital loss, then SeaDrill shareholders experienced a gross loss of $0.10 per share or 0.25% over the period.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Ensco (NYSE:ESV) opened at $56.99 on March 5, 2012. It closed at $57.83 in after hours trading on March 16, 2012. This gives the stock a gain of $0.84 or 1.47% over the two week period. Ensco also went ex-dividend during the period. Shareholders who held the stock on the March 12 ex-dividend date will receive a dividend of $0.375 per share. If we include this into the period return then Ensco shareholders experienced a gross gain of $1.215 or 2.1% over the last two weeks.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Transocean (NYSE:RIG) opened at $54.15 on March 5, 2012. It closed at $58.92 in after hours trading on March 16, 2012. This gives the stock a gain of $4.77 or 8.81% over the two week period. Transocean enjoyed a large run up on March 15 and March 16 due to news that the company contracted out the Deepwater Expedition for two years at a dayrate of $650,000. This is the highest dayrate that has been awarded for any rig in the current industry upcycle.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO) opened at $68.79 on March 5, 2012. It closed at $72.21 in after hours trading on March 16, 2012. The stock thus delivered a gain of $3.42 or 4.97% over the two week period.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Atwood Oceanics (NYSE:ATW) opened at $48.32 on March 5, 2012. It closed at $48.53 in after hours trading on March 16, 2012. The stock delivered a gain of $0.20 or 0.41% to its owners over the two week period.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Transocean was the best performer of all of these companies over the two week period. SeaDrill was the worst performer and the only stock of these five to deliver a loss over the period. (This is not due to weaknesses in the company's business, though; see earlier discussion).

I hope to make these performance updates a regular feature throughout the current upcycle for the industry in addition to my other regular articles on the sector. This series of articles will be improved in the future and feedback is encouraged to help improve them.

Source: Recent Performance Update On 5 Offshore Drilling Stocks

Additional disclosure: I am considering acquiring a position in RIG sometime in the near future.