By Sarah Roden
While record-low oil prices have been welcomed by those with travel plans, investors and analysts continue to voice uncertainty about the future rebound of oil prices. Consequently, two analysts weighed in on Seadrill Ltd (NYSE:SDRL) with bearish ratings last week. Although analysts agree that the oil sector will recover, there are differing opinions as to when the recovery will begin and stabilize.
Despite a marginal jump in the Chinese markets today, oil prices fell again due to concerns of oversupply and a strong U.S. dollar. This adds to the one-year, and counting, story of dropping oil prices.
Last week, China released production data for the month of August highlighting decelerated Chinese factory activity. Analysts are quick to point out that recent environmental regulations were responsible for part of the slowdown, but also acknowledge that this is far from the root of the decrease. Since China is the world’s second-largest consumer of oil, China’s slowdown has taken a toll on global oil production thus contributing to the oversupply.
Furthermore, OPEC did not change its oil production quota levels despite oversupply and analysts are now concerned that Iran will add to the glut as the country regains its oil-producing privileges. Oil companies, such as Seadrill, are feeling the brunt of the tumultuous energy market. The company reported earnings in late August and although it beat earnings estimates, the figures marked a steep drop year-over-year. To put the numbers in perspective, Seadrill reported net income of $423 million, above the estimate of $321.90 million but down from $520.22 million year-over-year.
Although ups and downs are expected in the energy sector, analysts are starting to worry about when the tide will turn. According to Smarter Analyst, Alex Brooks of Canaccord Genuity reiterated a Sell rating on Seadrill and lowered his price target from NOK70 to NOK55. The analyst noted that Seadrill management acknowledges the challenging market conditions. Brooks explained, “Stacking and scrapping of both floaters and jackups are likely to continue well into 2016, with a high likelihood that there will be limited, or no, growth in the marketed fleet between now and 2018.”
Alex Brooks has rated Seadrill six times since September 2014 with consecutive bearish ratings. The analyst has earned a 100% success rate recommending the stock with a +38.3% average return per SDRL rating when measured over a one-year horizon and no benchmark.
Similarly, analyst Gregory Lewis of Credit Suisse downgraded Seadrill to Underperform from Neutral and lowered his price target from $4 to $3 while maintaining an Underperform rating on the offshore drilling industry as a whole. Lewis assured that the sector will eventually recover, but not in 2017 as the bulls believe. The analyst expects a recovery to begin in 2018 or 2019, adding that the market is showing “signs of distress” around the sale of oil rigs.
Gregory Lewis has rated Seadrill six times since April 2014 with consecutive bearish and neutral ratings. He has a 100% success rate recommending the offshore drilling company with a +2.2% average return per SDRL rating.