The deal, which is expected to close in the fourth quarter, more than triples Hercules' West African fleet, adding an additional 13 liftboats to the four it already has in operation in the region.
While this acquisition might seem like small potatoes in era of multibillion-dollar mergers (just last year, Chevron
This deal is yet another illustration of the company's ability to buy non-core assets from other firms at a discount, fix them up, and redeploy them. According to Credit Suisse First Boston, nine of the previous acquisitions were completed at an average price of only 29% of replacement costs.
The profitability of this strategy is evident in analysts' expectations that this deal will add anywhere from $0.15 to $0.30 per share to Hercules' earnings in 2007. I believe that even the higher estimate might prove conservative, as utilization rates and dayrates for liftboats continue to climb.
In my Foolish opinion, Hercules remains attractive because of its leadership position in the consolidating liftboat market, as well as its accretive acquisition strategy. Better yet, its shares are trading at around seven times fiscal 2007 estimates of $4.75 per share (before factoring in this acquisition). As the company continues to bulk up its operations, I believe that the stock price will follow, and I'd urge energy investors to take a closer look.
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