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Whiting: A Revolution in Drilling?
11/04/2013 7:00 am EST
Our latest recommendation is an oil explorer that has one of the strongest stocks in the market, notes Mike Cintolo, editor of Cabot Top Ten Trader.
On the surface, Whiting Petroleum (WLL) is just another successful US-based explorer that operates in some of the country's most lucrative shales.
It has operations in a few locations, but most of its production comes from the Williston Basin in the Bakken and the Niobrara Field in Colorado, and output is heavily oil (79%).
And sure enough, the firm has been solidly profitable for years (save 2009), and its reserves are more than 14 times its currently production.
All of that is to the good, but what appears to have made Whiting one of the strongest stocks in the market is its new, and potentially revolutionary, completion technique.
We won't pretend to know all the ins and outs of it, but basically the company's new cemented liner, with so-called plug-and-perf, has far more perforations, and that's resulting in jaw-dropping production growth.
In the firm's conference call last week, for instance, Whiting said that about a dozen test wells, at various locations, produced 40% to 60% more output than using previous completion methods.
And this new method costs the same or less than the standard method. Imagine! It's still early, but Wall Street is catching on to the fact that the cemented liner, combined with Whiting's lucrative acreage, could be a game changer.
As it stands now, sales and earnings have accelerated wildly the past two quarters, though analysts still see single-digit growth in 2014.
But we believe that could prove very conservative as the company expands its new completion technique to, potentially, hundreds of wells in the quarters ahead.
Technically, WLL has a very powerful chart. Shares didn't do much the past couple of years, but the stock formed a picture-perfect base from March through early September, and since then, the power has been impressive.WLL has surged eight weeks in a row on a major expansion in volume, a clear sign that big investors are getting in. If you're a chart watcher, the pattern looks a lot like Diamond Offshore (DO) and Transocean (RIG) back in October 2004, as they began multi-year runs.
The shakeout last week, followed by the earning-induced rally to new highs, tells us something big could be happening here. Any weakness looks buyable.
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