Ensco: Still a Gem

10/31/2014 7:00 am EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jack Adamo

Editor, Jack Adamo's Insiders Plus

We are doubling down on a previously recommended offshore oil play; the stock has slumped due to the falling price of oil, caused by a stronger dollar and, to some extent, a slowing global economy and higher supplies, explains Jack Adamo, editor of Insider's Plus.

These are real forces and they may continue for a while. They are not to be dismissed lightly. However, Ensco PLC (ESV) is a great company that is well-positioned in its industry.

Ensco provides offshore contract drilling services to the oil and gas industry worldwide. The company also offers management services on rigs owned by third parties.

The company operates one of the newest ultra-deepwater rig fleets and has the largest premium jackup fleet (shallow water, like the Gulf of Mexico). Ensco has a major presence in the most strategic offshore basins across six continents.

Ensco also has the second youngest overall fleet in the business. And with six new ships coming online in the next few years, it will probably be Number One. This is an important factor because the new rigs are more efficient and are safer.

When it comes to financial metrics, Ensco is a gem. The balance sheet is rock solid with debt representing only 27% of capitalization. That’s the lowest of the six major drillers.

Return on equity was 12% last year. That’s not super for some industries, but for the highly capital-intensive drillers, it’s excellent. The company could boost it even more by taking on more debt, but prefers its fortress-like balance sheet. So do I.

Every industry has downturns and it is the strong that survive and thrive. Ensco management knows this. Despite having an industry-leading dividend yield of 7.9% now, the company has a conservative payout ratio of just 49%.

Even if the market takes the shares down further, we’ve got a solid dividend while we wait to load up on the stock.

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