Offshore drillers Atwood Oceanics (ATW +1.9%) and Rowan (RDC +0.3%), as well as Oceaneering International (OII +3.1%), Helix Energy Solutions (HLX +0.3%) and Flotek Industries (FTK -2.9%) are the favorite takeout candidates among oilfield services stocks for Stephens analyst Matthew Marietta.
As Marietta says today's Patterson-UTI (PTEN -7.3%) "well-priced takeout" of Seventy Seven Energy attests, the firm believes M&A in the sector will remain prevalent and continues to see deal-flow potential in well-capitalized companies with technology differentiation or top tier asset quality.
Marietta believes confidence is becoming restored in oilfield services company management teams and that the potential accelerates for the IPO market to heat up.
Stephens analysts say “structurally oversupplied crude markets will take more time to balance” even with an OPEC production cut, which makes them reiterate support for their top six picks among oil services stocks: Baker Hughes (BHI +6.4%), Nabors Industries (NBR +22.8%), Schlumberger (SLB +5.2%), Oceaneering International (OII +6.8%), Superior Energy Services (SPN +17.8%) and Flotek Industries (FTK +13.6%).
The firm says the companies "tend to have market leadership, stable balance sheets and/or cash flows, differentiated/diverse products or services or product line leadership.”
Stephens says a production cut and follow-through could justify its base case to high case range for oil averaging $52/bbl in 2017 and $54/bbl in 2018, with low and high cases ~$10/bbl higher or lower in each year.
Q3 revenues at OII's remotely operated vehicle segment fell 36% Y/Y and 9% Q/Q to $126.5M, due to a 4% reduction in revenue per day-on-hire and 6% fewer days utilized; overall utilization was 52%, down from 55% in Q2, as a result of the continued decline in the offshore rig count.
OII says it retired 39 remotely operated vehicles during the quarter and recorded a $36M charge.
OII says Q4 results "will be considerably lower than [Q3] results due to a continuation of weak demand for our services and products, exacerbated by seasonality," while the outlook for 2017 "can be characterized as marginally profitable at the operating income level on a consolidated basis."
Oceaneering (NYSE:OII) says it has acquired the assets of Blue Ocean Technologies, a privately held provider of riserless light well intervention services, for ~$30M.
OII says the acquisition includes three RLWI systems, two of which are currently under construction, and are expected to be fully functional by mid-2017; OII says it plans to invest $10M to complete construction of the RLWI systems.
OII says Blue Ocean's leading RLWI technology holds the current depth record for deepwater riserless intervention at 8,200 ft.
More than 300 Norwegian oil service workers are on strike after wage talks broke down, hitting operations of subcontractors to the country's oil and gas industry including Schlumberger (SLB +1%), Halliburton (HAL +2.3%), Baker Hughes (BHI +2%) and Oceaneering (OII +1.5%).
The conflict will force oil companies to halt drilling of some wells on Norway's continental shelf and later could cut into the country's production of ~2M bbl/day of oil, condensate and natural gas liquids; state-controlled Statoil (STO +0.8%) is Norway's largest oil firm.
Brent crude recently was 1.6% higher at $46.58/bbl and WTI had jumped 2.1% to $45, sparked by the strike and API data showing a surprise drop in U.S. crude inventories.
The past 18 months have proven that trying to predict specific commodity prices is a guessing game, Marietta says, but he thinks that a global ratio of reserves to annual production levels at an all-time high, coupled with global equipment overcapacity and cost deflation "has the potential to create a price environment range-bound in line with our sensitivities."
Stephens also upgrades RDC and Nabors Industries (NBR +9.8%) to Overweight from Equal Weight.
Offshore oil service companies Oceaneering (OII -0.4%), Dril-Quip (DRQ -0.3%) and Frank's International (FI +1.2%) are initiated at J.P. Morgan, reflecting the firm's negative near-term outlook for the sector.
JPM believes the three companies actually are stronger than most oil service companies, with significantly more downside risk ahead in the broader offshore market: "With niche proprietary technology, attractive market dynamics including reasonable moats, and strong balance sheets, these companies represent some of the few remaining strategic assets within oil services."
The firm rates OII at Underperform with a $23 price target, and starts DRQ and FI at Neutral with respective $53 and $13 price targets.
Oceaneering International (OII +3.7%) is higher after RBC Capital upgrades shares to Sector Perform from Underperform with a $36 price target, raised from $30, citing the prospects of more merger activity in the oilfield services sector.
RBC believes the FMC Tech-Technip merger changes the industry dynamic and increases the possibility of additional M&A, with the potential for such activity offsetting near-term fundamental headwinds.
The firm lists possible headwinds facing OII including expectations of a declining offshore rig count through 2016 and the fact that operators continue to be selective with spending, which likely will impact OII's products and projects segments.