There are times when the very things we use to protect ourselves turn out to be our bane. Noble Energy
It looks like this ...
Thanks to hedging tools in the form of commodity derivatives instruments, market volatility has turned out to be a great leveler for Noble. The company faced losses worth $285 million due to derivatives instruments; the irony is that Noble had profited last year out of these same derivatives. However, the good news is that a total of $303 million is still unrealized. In other words, these losses are notional and not actual, which means that cash hasn't actually left the building ... yet.
... but the real story is this
This particularly interests me as it prompts me to check the actual operating income during the corresponding periods. Operating income, in fact, rose to $347 million from $218 million -- an impressive growth of 59%.
Adjusted earnings also grew, by a whopping 74%, to $240 million, versus $138 million a year ago. This should augur well for Foolish investors in this stock. The company has not inflated its earnings from questionable sources, but has shown solid growth via operations. This shows that the company has managed to effectively increase its cash inflow even though the accounting measure in question (net income) has not revealed that. Quarter-over-quarter cash and cash equivalents rose from $1.1 billion to $1.4 billion.
Being the first company to receive a drilling permit in the Gulf of Mexico since the disaster last April at BP's
In short, I consider this a safe sock to invest in with long-term growth prospects on the horizon. As Warren Buffett said, derivatives are weapons of financial mass destruction. They can work for you or against you. In this case, they hurt pretty bad, but I think this three-star CAPS stock probably deserves more than what its rating suggests. I think it could be a long-term winner.