It's been a rough year for oil and gas drilling service companies. While supermajors like ExxonMobil
Some folks, like Atwood Oceanics
Considering the dreadful environment, Precision Drilling Trust
In hindsight, Precision chose a uniquely bad time to pursue a takeover of fellow land driller Grey Wolf. Finding itself saddled with a big bridge loan in the midst of a credit maelstrom, Precision was forced to take some dramatic steps toward self-preservation. First the firm dashed its dividend, and then came the painful placement. The upshot is that the firm is now on solid footing, with a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 0.24, compared to 0.37 at year's end.
Investors are bidding up Precision shares in a big way today, but Hercules Offshore
I would actually suggest to Fools that they steer clear. While it's encouraging that Hercules' lenders are being accommodative and easing some financial covenants on the firm's massive borrowings, the sheer size of this debt load is going to prove difficult to surmount. The new management is doing a commendable job, but the assets here are nothing to write home about, and I would stick with a driller like Ensco International
Precision Drilling is a Global Gains pick. Chesapeake Energy is an Inside Value recommendation. Atwood Oceanics is a Stock Advisor selection. Energize your portfolio by accessing any of our subscriber newsletters free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool owns shares of Chesapeake and has a dashing disclosure policy.