North Atlantic Drilling (NYSE:NADL) is a fairly unique company in the offshore drilling industry. This is because it is the only offshore drilling contractor that focuses exclusively on operating in harsh environments such as the Arctic. As the world's Arctic regions are believed to contain enormous amounts of oil and gas resources and are largely unexploited so far, the company is uniquely positioned to profit off of the eventual exploitation of this region.
At the same time, North Atlantic Drilling has seen its stock price get punished recently due to a much-publicized downturn in the offshore drilling industry. However, as is the case with North Atlantic Drilling's parent company Seadrill (NYSE:SDRL), the market sell-off of the company's stock is largely unjustified.
Stable revenues due to contracts
Offshore drilling companies earn their revenues by contracting the rigs in their fleets to exploration and production companies for fairly lengthy periods of time. As a result, these companies are not particularly dependent on day-to-day sales. North Atlantic Drilling is no exception to this. The company does have one significant advantage here in that rigs that operate in harsh environments tend to carry longer contracts than drilling rigs that operate in other parts of the world. This guarantees that North Atlantic Drilling will have stable revenues for an extended period of time, regardless of broader market conditions.
For how long are North Atlantic Drilling's revenues and cash flows effectively guaranteed, though? This chart should provide an answer as it shows the contract status of every drilling rig in the company's fleet as well as the beginning and ending dates of each of its contracts:
As the chart shows, North Atlantic Drilling does not have any rigs coming off of contract in 2014. Therefore, the company will see its revenues stay stable all year long despite the weakness in the market for offshore drilling rigs. In fact, North Atlantic Drilling doesn't have any of its current contracts expiring until the beginning of 2015. As a result, its revenues are virtually guaranteed to stay stable until at least that point. This should also result in the company's dividend remaining steady at an absolute minimum.
Near-term growth potential
North Atlantic Drilling also has some growth potential, as shown by the chart above. This growth potential is due to one of the company's new rigs, the West Linus. As the chart shows, the West Linus was under construction until February, but it is now being moved to Norway to begin its first assignment for ConocoPhilips (NYSE:COP). ConocoPhilips will pay North Atlantic Drilling $375,000 per day to use this rig from May 2014 until May 2019, although ConocoPhilips has the option to extend this rig's contract until 2023. If ConocoPhilips extends this contract then North Atlantic Drilling is guaranteed to receive money from this rig until that time.
The reason why this rig will result in revenue growth for North Atlantic Drilling is because it has never operated before. On top of that, all of the revenue that the rig generates is locked in due to North Atlantic Drilling's contract with ConocoPhilips. As mentioned earlier, North Atlantic Drilling will begin to see the increased revenue from this rig in May, and this higher revenue level is then contractually guaranteed until the end of the year that the West Navigator comes off contract.
This contractually-guaranteed higher revenue provides confidence that North Atlantic Drilling can maintain its high dividend. This will be beneficial for parent company Seadrill as well, which derives a significant amount of cash flow from North Atlantic Drilling due to its 73% ownership stake in the company. The larger company also collects a large amount of dividends from its smaller subsidiary.
North Atlantic Drilling has seen a sell-off in its stock recently, and this has pushed the share price down. However, as this article has shown, there is no fundamental reason for it. This means that Mr. Market appears to be offering a buying opportunity. Investors buying the company's stock today will also collect a substantial dividend while waiting for the share price to increase, as shares of North Atlantic Drilling yield 10.96% at the time of writing.