Despite an offshore drilling world that seemingly is becoming more like quicksand -- and in the face of a government investigation -- Hercules Offshore
First a quick recap on the investigation, which frankly could prove to be relatively inconsequential for the company: Hercules is being looked into by the SEC and the Justice Department regarding the possibility that it may have violated the U.S.'s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. That indicates that the feds think the company may have used bribery to increase its business.
As my Foolish colleague Matt Koppenheffer told you not long ago, FCPA investigations have adorned such energy companies as Royal Dutch Shell
Hercules paid about $177 million for 20 mat-supported jack-up rigs it acquired from Seahawk, which, largely because of the timing of its spinoff, was consistently unprofitable and filed for bankruptcy protection in February. Specifically, the compensation included $25 million in cash and $6.80 for each of Hercules' 22.3 million included shares; that's the closing price on the April 4 approval date.
Seahawk had been a spinoff of Pride International
The acquired rigs have been added to Hercules' 33-rig jack-up fleet, 16 of which are currently active. Of the 20 acquired rigs, seven are under contract. The numbers of the rigs that are "stacked" can be at least partially attributed to conditions in the Gulf of Mexico during the past year. While shallow-water activity technically wasn't included in the moratorium following the Gulf tragedy, confusion among regulators and operators nevertheless affected that part of the market.
Given its recent changes, the uncertainty about the direction of oil prices, and the continuing sluggishness of the Gulf market, my inclination is to watch Hercules carefully for the removal of question marks affecting the company.
For that reason alone, it's an ideal addition to Foolish watchlists. Click here to Add Hercules Offshore to your watchlist.