We've written plenty about drillers like Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and Noble Corp (NYSE:NE) around here, but relatively little about the engineering and contracting firms that turn these exploratory wells into full-blown production platforms. One reason is that two of the leading firms, Saipem and Technip (OTC BB: TKPPY), are relatively inaccessible to many U.S. investors. U.K.-based Acergy SA (NYSE:ACGY), formerly known as Stolt Offshore, offers us a rare entry into this world of subsea umbilicals, trunk lines, and remotely operated vehicles.

Acergy just reported some relatively strong quarterly numbers, including a record revenue figure north of $700 million. The results still fell short of analyst expectations, however. That's the trouble with a hot sector -- mere 20% profit growth just no longer cuts it.

The main problem appears to be that Acergy didn't book any of the big West African offshore projects for which it has tendered. The flip side is that no one else has, either -- the delays here are ruining everyone's fun. Acergy thrives on big jobs like BP's (NYSE:BP) Greater Plutonio project in offshore Angola. That project, the largest in the company's history, has just recently flowed first oil.

I wouldn't count Acergy out here. With the ability to point to the success at Greater Plutonio, the firm is strongly positioned to book more big gigs and boost the backlog. If it does, Acergy can quickly close the gap in share price performance with the likes of Oceaneering International (NYSE:OII), Global Industries (NASDAQ:GLBL), and FMC Technologies (NYSE:FTI).

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