The business of offshore oil drilling is simple in concept. A company buys a collection of drills, equips and staffs those drills with skilled workers, and then contracts the drills out to major oil companies. Top-flight drillers are the ones like Transocean (NYSE:RIG) that have lots of quality people and equipment and have good relationships with top oil companies like ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM) and Petrobras (NYSE:PBR).

But head of the class or not, Transocean saw its stock take a tumble last year as low energy prices scared many investors away from the whole industry. Of course, a lower stock price on a quality company often means opportunity.

On the Motley Fool's CAPS service, more than 5,200 members have weighed in on Transocean's stock and, as the stock's five-star rating suggests, the vast majority think Transocean is a deal rather than a dud. CAPS member GoldorTin, who is one of the score leaders on Transocean, gave the stock a thumbs-up at the end of last year and has managed to bag 56 points for the well-timed call.

GoldorTin is one of CAPS' All-Stars -- players with a rating of 80 or greater -- and has managed a stock-picking accuracy of 55% while racking up more than 500 points. Transocean isn't this player's only great call. Here's a look at a few of the other prescient picks:

Company

Date Picked

Call

Points

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Yamana Gold

10/23/08

Outperform

102

****

Buffalo Wild Wings (NASDAQ:BWLD)

11/2/07

Outperform

68

***

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL)

10/10/08

Outperform

44

***

Data from CAPS.

So what is this investor looking at these days? Here are a few of the most recent calls on CAPS:

Company

Date Picked

Call

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

General Electric (NYSE:GE)

2/27/09

Outperform

****

Apache (NYSE:APA)

2/19/09

Outperform

*****

BP

1/21/09

Outperform

*****

Data from CAPS.

These picks could be a good place to start further research. I decided to take a closer look at Apache.

More from the world of energy
Apache is an independent exploration and development specialist. The same broad positives and negatives that apply to Transocean apply here. That is, lower prices for oil and natural gas are like a lead weight for the business, while the long-term supply/demand mismatch for energy products is the shiny light at the end of the tunnel.

But if the broad strokes are similar, the specific opportunity for Apache is different. As an independent energy company, Apache is the one finding, developing, and selling the energy products -- in its case, roughly a 50/50 split between oil and gas.

And with current production coming from the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S., Egypt, Canada, the North Sea, Argentina, and Australia, it's certainly global in its approach to building its position in the energy market.

But perhaps the best aspect of Apache is its approach to its business, which is -- in a word -- conservative. Because it kept the reins on its business even during the frothiest of times, today the company finds itself with a mere 23% debt-to-capital ratio and $4 billion in cash and committed bank funding, which puts it in a great position to be a buyer in the industry when competitors are forced to sell at fire-sale prices.

Members of the CAPS community have a warm place in their hearts for Apache. Of the 1,770 members who have weighed in on the stock, 1,732 have given it a thumbs-up. CAPS All-Star brentvoss joined the chorus earlier this year, saying:

Didn't pick the bottom. Never do. The future of oil and gas producers must be bright or the lights are going dim. We simply don't have a viable substitute of scale to replace them in the near future and global depletion rates are higher than previously thought. Much higher.

But here's the important question: What's your take on Apache? Will its conservative business model pay off during the downturn? Get in the action by clicking over to CAPS. It's absolutely free and already has more than 130,000 stock pickers chipping in to find the best stocks out there.

Related Foolishness:

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Petroleo Brasileiro is a Motley Fool Income Investor recommendation. Buffalo Wild Wings is a Motley Fool Hidden Gems recommendation. The Fool owns shares of Buffalo Wild Wings. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. We can help you profit from the panic. 

Fool contributor Matt Koppenheffer does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned, but he is keeping a close eye on some of these stocks through his CAPS portfolio. You can also connect with Matt on Twitter @KoppTheFool. The Fool's disclosure policy would like to work like a dog someday -- boy does that seem like the life.