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Bullish Oil & Gas Juggernaut Breaks to the Upside

By 2017, the U.S. is expected to overtake Saudi Arabia as the worlds leading oil producer.Within20years,itisexpectedthe U.S. will be selfsufficient when it comes to energy production. Aside from investing in pure play oil and gas companies, how can pennystockinvestorstakeadvantageofthis burgeoninggrowth?(Source: NewYorkTimes press release, U.S. to Be Worlds Top Oil Producerin5Years,ReportSays,November 12,2012.) Hercules Offshore, Inc. (NASDAQ/HERO) provides shallowwater drilling and marine services to companies involved in oil and natural gas exploration and productionworldwide.BasedinHouston,Texas,theHerculesjackuprigfleetisthe fourthlargestintheworld,andthelargestintheU.S.GulfofMexico.Thefirmalso operatesthelargestlifeboatandinlandbarragedrillingfleetintheworld. Currentlytradingnear$5.78,withanaveragethreemonthsvolumeofabout2.8 millionsharesperday,almost74%ofHerculesisheldbyinstitutions,and18.51%by insiders.Theoilproducersbookvaluestandsat$5.53. OnOctober25,Herculesannouncedthatthirdquarterrevenuewasup13.4%year overyear at $184.9 million. The company reported a thirdquarter loss of $37.9 million,or$0.24perdilutedshare.Inthethirdquarterof2011,Herculesreporteda lossof$17.0million,or$0.12perdilutedshare.(Source:HerculesOffshore,press release,HerculesOffshoreAnnounces ThirdQuarter2012Results,October25, 2012.) Even though the oil producers thirdquarter 2012 loss increased over the same prioryearperiod,itimprovedsignificantlyquarteroverquarter.Duringthesecond quarterof2012,Herculesreportedalossof$55.1million,or$0.35pershare. Inspiteofpreviouslosses,theindustryhasimproved,andHerculesbelievesitisin abetterpositiontotakeadvantageofgrowingdemand. John T. Rynd, President and CEO, stated, Visibility in our Domestic Offshore segment is the best it has been since the companys formation, driven by solid demandandtightsupplyofjackuprigsintheU.S.GulfofMexico.Webelievethis positivemomentumwillcontinuethroughatleast2013,basedonourdiscussions withcustomers,manyofwhomareseekinglongertermcommitmentsthanwhatwe havetraditionallyseenintheU.S.GulfofMexico.

Inaddition,theoilproducercashpositionhasincreased.Inthefirstquarterof 2012,Herculesheld$178.3millionincashandequivalents.Attheendofthird quarter,cashincreased54.4%to$275.5million,or$1.71cashpershare.

Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com


Inearly2012,Herculeswastradingnear$5.40,andasthelossespiledup,ittradedlower, hittingalowof$2.91inJune.Sincethen,Herculeshasgainedmomentumtotheupside. Recently,thestockbrokeabovethehighsthatwereplacedearlierthisyear. Currently,Herculesappearstobeinabreakoutmode,whereresistanceat$5.40wastaken outonheavyvolumeandincreasedmomentum.Theoilproducerisalsotradingaboveits 50and200daymovingaverages. Lookingfromafundamentalandtechnicalperspective,Herculesisasolidcompanywith greatpotential.Recentpriceactionsuggeststhatthestockpricemightgohigher.Atthe sametime,investorsshouldbecautiousifthestockpricegoesbelow$5.40.Ifitoccurs,then thebreakoutwillbecomeinvalid.