Can Seadrill Ltd (SDRL) Stock Make It Through These Rough Waters?

With its shares declining some 90% year-to-date and 99% over the last three years, Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL) stock holders have drowned in losses for quite some time. Now having fallen to around 35 cents, SDRL stock is nothing more than a speculative bet for investors who are drawn to the appeal of cheap stock.

Can Seadrill Ltd (SDRL) Stock Make It Through These Rough Waters?

But don’t forget Seadrill stock is cheap for a reason. And while the company is still turning a profit, the embattled offshore oil rig contractor is still drowning in almost $10 billion worth of debt.

Management bet incorrectly on a continued boom in offshore drilling and invested heavily in new platforms prior to the oil price collapse in 2014, which sent oil pricing sinking some 80% from more around $110 per barrel in 2014 to a low of $24 two years later.

SDRL and the “B Word”

And while weak oil prices, which have effected major O&G stocks like Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE:XOM), BP plc (ADR) (NYSE:BP) and Chevron Corporation (NYSE:CVX), have rebounded to around $45 per barrel, Seadrill’s underlying fundamentals haven’t recovered. And it doesn’t appear as if industry improvement plans by Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, including talks of production cuts, will immediately change the course. This, among other headwinds, explains why SDRL management hasn’t been shy about using the “B word”: Bankruptcy.

“We expect the implementation of a comprehensive restructuring plan will likely involve schemes of arrangement or Chapter 11 proceedings, and we are preparing accordingly,” the company said recently in an SEC filing. And while the company has realized some breathing room by working with its creditors to push out near-term debt maturities, at some point SeaDrill’s perpetual restructuring, which has only served to delay the inevitable flatline, will end. And so will the trading of SDRL stock.

Can Seadrill Make Money?

To be fair, the company is doing what it can to postpone the inevitable. In the first quarter, SDRL reported an adjusted profit of 6 cents per share, beating consensus estimate of a penny per-share loss. The better-than-expected results were driven by lower operating expenses during the quarter. Notably, the company delivered a surprising 97% economic utilization of its floater fleet, while its jack-up fleet reached 98% utilization.

On a year-over-year basis, however, Seadrill’s profits sunk from last year’s mark of 26 per share, thanks to lower revenues, which declined 36% to $569 million. The weak revenue sent EBITDA falling 45% to $291 million, compared with $528 million in the year-ago quarter. Revenue continues to be pressured by weak utilization of rigs such as the West Vigilant and West Epsilon drillships, which remained idle during the quarter, thus pressuring its dayrates.

As with peers such as Transocean LTD (NYSE:RIG), Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc (NYSE:DO), Noble Corporation Ordinary Shares (UK) (NYSE:NE), SeadDrill’s dayrates is an important metric for the company, underscoring the pricing power of the business.

The amount of money a drilling contractor like Seadrill gets paid is based on the number of days its rigs stay in operation. But it also loses money when its rigs are idle for extended periods of time. And that’s what’s likely to happen due to higher oil inventories.

Bottom Line for SDRL Stock

It certainly has helped that oil prices — now around $45 per barrel — combined with massive oversupply, means there will be less demand for Seadrill’s services, adding even more pressure to revenues and future dayrates. The company has already forecasted 2017 revenue to be $2.1 billion, which would fall 34% from $3.2 billion in 2016. Looking ahead, analysts expect second-quarter revenue of $540 million, which calls for 38% year-over-year decline, while Q3 estimates of $512.8 million would decline 31%.

With no bottom in sight for both revenue and profit deterioration, betting in the company today requires the belief that the company’s restructuring can save the business, salvaging some value for SDRL stock. But we’ve seen this story before. With chapter eleven on the horizon, it’s time to turn the page and move on to stocks with much better growth prospects.

As of this writing, Richard Saintvilus did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.

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