As we continue to flirt with $100-a-barrel oil, companies that extract the black gold have not had to drill too deeply into investor sentiment to pump out a wealth of support. Many of them are top-rated stocks, and one favorite has been Noble (NYSE:NE), which is one of the largest offshore drillers, with more than 60 rigs stationed around the globe.

Noble's backlog for its rigs extends well into 2008, with approximately 74% of its operating days already accounted for. Average dayrates for its rigs have increased substantially over the past year, rising 50% internationally and 25% in the domestic market.

CAPS take
More than 900 investors have cast their votes for Noble, with a near-unanimous opinion by CAPS All-Stars that the company will outperform the market. Top-rated investor delphin4269, with a 98.68 player rating, likes the high profit margins that Noble enjoys:

Noble's business boasts a high profit margin, they have enormous cashflows, and earnings are growing at a 30-40% annual rate. Despite this rosy picture the P/E ratio is about 14. I'll take a PEG < 0.5 any day of the week. Long term this one should easily outperform the market.

Many players are looking for further consolidation in the industry and think Noble's best-of-breed positioning makes it an attractive candidate. As CAPS player rumplestlskn notes, Noble may still be undervalued compared to its peers:

the entire oil service industry appears to be undervalued. noble corp is an attractive pick within the group which seems poised for further consolidation. it has somewhat lagged its peers, in my opinion unfairly. day rates continue to show strength and sooner or later the stock's price and fair valuation should converge favorably for stockholders.

My take
There's a small group of top-notch offshore drillers to choose from, including the two largest deep-ocean drillers, Transocean (NYSE:RIG) and Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO). The offshore drillers have become flush with cash as the price of oil has soared. That's led to a wave of consolidation in the industry, perhaps best represented by Transocean's marriage to GlobalSantaFe.

With improved margins across its fleet, higher dayrates, and an impressive backlog, Noble looks at first glance to be a noble investment. However, its captain recently jumped ship, and speculation has heightened that Noble may be a target of takeover pirates soon. So an investment here may ultimately be little more than going through the drill.

Your take
While the CAPS community is pretty uniform in its thoughts on Noble, your opinion counts just as much. Make your voice heard -- let us know whether you think Noble is a virtual shoo-in for your portfolio.

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Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not have a financial position in any of the stocks mentioned in this article. You can see his holdings here. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.