What: Shares of offshore driller Atwood Oceanics (ATW) were off by as much as 11% by 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday. Fueling the sell-off was another big move in the price of oil, which closed down 5.8% to just over $30 a barrel.
So what: Crude oil continued its wild swings, this time to the downside. There wasn't any news sparking today's sell-off. It's likely due to profit taking by traders after crude surged more than 9% last week.
Despite all the movement in the oil price, it's still well below the price that Atwood Oceanics' customers need it to be in order to coax them to wade into the deepwaters in search of more oil. Because of that, it will be quite some time before a move in crude oil will be meaningful enough to brighten Atwood Oceanics' future prospects. In fact, according to fellow offshore driller Seadrill (SDRL), the offshore drilling market will likely be challenging throughout 2017. That's because not only does the price of oil need to rise substantially, but according to Seadrill CEO Per Wullf, "Once the oil price is starting to return to normal, you can add 12 to 15 months before you see the need for additional rig units." In other words, it will be quite some time before the industry will support more rigs and higher dayrates, both of which are needed to fuel growth at Seadrill and Atwood Oceanics.
Now what: The only thing investors can do is take a long-term mind-set and wait out the current storm in the offshore drilling sector. That's because even when the oil price improves -- and it's anyone's guess when that will occur -- it will still be a while before that will flow into higher earnings for offshore drillers.