Hercules Offshore Still Faces an Uphill Climb in Shallow Water Drilling

Even better-than-expected earnings couldn't get investors excited about Hercules Offshore (NASDAQ: HERO  ) today. Revenue was up 35%, to $235.3 million, but the company lost $101.1 million, or $0.63 per share.

After pulling out one-time items that resulted in a $123.4 million, or $0.77 per share, decrease in earnings, the company would have made $22.3 million, or $0.14 per share. That's ahead of the $0.08 estimate from analysts, but it still didn't excite investors. 

On the wrong side of the drilling market
The domestic offshore market continues to be Hercules's largest, and dayrates rose from an average of $67,681 a year ago to $100,160 in the fourth quarter. But international markets weren't as strong and, while dayrates rose slightly to $139,037, utilization fell from 78.7% to 71.7%, and operating expenses rose sharply.

What's challenging Hercules is that the shallow water market where it focuses is no longer a growth market for the energy industry. Deep and ultra-deepwater are where the profits are as you can see from the net income of Seadrill (NYSE: SDRL  ) and Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) during the past five years. Note that Transocean's loss was due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

HERO Net Income (TTM) Chart

HERO Net Income (TTM) data by YCharts

Hercules has definitely benefited from an uptick in demand and that may continue, but returns are volatile. If dayrates rise far enough, there are stacked rigs waiting to fill the demand in shallow water. That limits upside in a way that isn't limited in ultra-deepwater, where demand exceeds supply today.

Despite the fact that the stock is down, I didn't think this was a terrible quarter for Hercules Offshore; I just don't like its long-term position. There's a reason Transocean sold most of its shallow water fleet last year, and why it and Seadrill are building ultra-deepwater rigs at a rapid clip. That's where the growth is, and Hercules Offshore is fighting an uphill battle to generate the margins that those two can.

Energy stocks for today's market
There are simply better ways to play energy, and finding the right plays while historic amounts of capital expenditures are flooding the industry, will pad your investment nest egg. For this reason, the Motley Fool is offering a comprehensive look at three energy companies set to soar during this transformation in the energy industry. To find out which three companies are spreading their wings, check out the special free report, "3 Stocks for the American Energy Bonanza." Don't miss out on this timely opportunity; click here to access your report -- it's absolutely free. 


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 2829435, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 9/21/2014 10:39:39 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement