Why I bought back into RDC ( UPDATED 3.15.2015 )

I'm going to keep this relatively short and sweet. 

Back in late December 2014 I bought ( RDC )  at a cost basis of ~$20 for the following reasons:

  • The bulk of RDC's most critical assets are contracted through 2015 and into 2016
  • Strongest balance sheet (lowest debt leverage) compared to other offshore drillers in the industry
  • Management team considered best in industry
  • Long term buyers appeared to defend the $20 share price level
  • At ~$20 the price to book is an absurd 0.5! Simply put you can purchase a $1 worth of assets of for $0.50!

I was able to take profits at ~$23 and ~$22 for an average gain of ~12.5% on the position. Not bad considering the highest the stock price reached was ~$24, before February's run up to $25. 

Fast forward to today. I bought back in at approximately $20.66 with a stop around $19.25 and a price target of ~$24. All of the above reasons still apply plus the following:

  • RDC took ~$430 million in asset writedowns for its 12 oldest rigs. As a result of the impairment charge they reported a loss in Q4 earnings. Therefore the new price reflects this new negative information.
  • Additionally ( HERO ), another offshore oil driller, recently had a long term contract cancelled by Saudi Aramco. All offshore companies and their investors were put on notice that contracts can and will be cancelled if the day rate is too high, and as a result offshore drillers' share prices tanked. Again the current share price reflects this added revenue uncertainty. 
  • The stock price has once again held the $20 level. 

Considering the aforementioned factors I believe this is a solid entry based on the risk/reward setup.

Remember as traders/investors our only goal is to develop the skills to identify and exploit asymmetries in the market. We will never be right 100% of the time, but with proper due diligence, risk management, and belief in the process we can certainly be profitable over the long term. 

UPDATE: Price action was terrible in the week that followed this post, with a violent break towards $19 violating my stop price. With recent reports of still record supply coming online, ( USD ) strength, the price of oil and market sentiment is likely to be suppressed for some time. ( RDC ) is also exposed to concentration risk per the following Seekingalpha report:

The analyst also sees Saudi Aramco continuing to cause problems for drillers, particularly Rowan (NYSE:RDC), whose exposure to Saudi Aramco is 34.4% of its ~$5.1B backlog, and a potential discount could negatively impact RDC’s gross EPS by $0.45-$0.55/year;
— Mar 11 2015, 15:48 ET | By: Carl Surran, SA News Editor

The lesson is stay disciplined with your trades and mentally flexible. Always be looking for new relevant information that could affect your trades/positions. 

What I Saw ( Week of 12.8.14 )

Tuesday of this week I expressed a mildly bearish sentiment regarding the broad market. Based on stock market internals including weakening market participation, the duration and velocity of the near vertical bounce off of the October lows it seemed increasingly likely that we would see some profit taking and some sort of correction. Let's see if this estimation was validated by the market. 

I would say it looks like market participants did decide it was a good time for profit taking/risk reduction. Overall this week, SPY/$SPX is down ~ -3.5%. As of this post on Tuesday down ~ -2.7%. Let's take a look at the other major indices. 

Let's break it down by sector. This way we can see if the selling was concentrated and if so which sectors are out(under)performing. 

Note the difference in calculated weekly performance. The top chart is a bottom up calculation by finviz.com generated using all the available stocks within each of their sector categories. The second chart is from stockcharts.com and it is the trailing 5 day return of the S&P SPDR Sector ETF's relative to ( SPY ). 

After that clarification, we can clearly see the selling is concentrated in the Energy ( XLE ) and Basic Materials ( XLB )  sectors. This reflects current analyst and investor sentiment regarding potential 'demand slow down' in the face of rising raw material supply. 

Also note the strong relative performance within utilities ( XLU ), cyclicals aka consumer discretionary ( XLY ) and consumer staples ( XLP ). This indicates buying based on two trends.

1) The US consumer is back in a major way due to the continued persistent decline in oil prices (more on that later).

2) Defensive re-balancing taking place (read: lower expected risk). The correlation between broad market weakness and defensive sectors like consumer staples/utilities is buoyed by the following simple concept: 

A LOT of the largest institutional investors (mutual funds, pension funds, insurance funds) have "long only", "fully invested", or "cash balance maximums" mandates imposed on their stock investment strategies. Therefore profit taking, or risk reduction, means they cannot sit on excess cash. It must be reinvested. Well that means if, as a portfolio manager,  you believe market risk (volatility) is high (increasing), considering the aforementioned constraints, you must decrease your exposure to stocks that are really sensitive to market changes (high-beta, growth, momentum, high leverage) and increase your exposure to stocks that are less sensitive to market changes (low-beta, value, defensive, low leverage).

See below:

Hard to argue with the above. This chart shows the last 5 days' performance for a few of the largest US utilities, the S&P Spdr Utilities ETF ( XLU ),  all relative to ( SPY ); SPY 5 day performance is = 0%. This gives us a much clearer picture of the relative outperformance of the utilities sector vs the broad market. 

Oil is still a blood bath. 

OIL -13%

Brent -10.45%

WTIC -13.06%

YTD:  - 40%+

What I'm Watching ( Week of 12-8-14 )

How long does equity optimism last without correction?

Over the weekend I examined the market internals and came away mildly bearish at these levels. Extreme optimism and lack of participation among the broad indexes make this a week ripe for profit taking and I've been aggressive with my trailing stops etc during the last 2 trading sessions. 

When will OIL finally bounce? Have investors finally capitulated?

I'm short oil via the Inverse ETF SCO ( wish I had more size ) however this has been a profitable position ever since OPEC's decision not to lower production targets. Clearly this is an example of geopolitics setting up incredible trade opportunities. However the contrarian value hunter in me knows the devastation in energy producers' stocks is likely a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water. There are plenty of firms out there able to produce at a profit even in today's low oil price environment. I will be looking to rotate into those as soon as it's prudent to do so. 

If you bought SCO the day after the OPEC decision you would be sitting on an approximate 17% gain based on today's levels!

What I Saw ( Week of 12.1.14 )

1. Do the airline stocks and oil continue to trend strongly in opposite directions?

ANSWER: Simply put, mostly yes. The below chart shows the following stocks  ( OIL, AAL, ALK, JBLU, UAL ) relative to the broader market ( SPY ) over the last 5 days. Out of the 4 airline stocks chosen here, only ALK underperformed the market. Using OIL as a proxy for oil, investor sentiment is still negative, and some airlines stocks are continuing to benefit from the plunging price. 

2. Do we see a continuation of last week's sell off in small caps and does that translate to a mini correction?

ANSWER: No. Overall equity risk ( SPY, IWM ) had a bid throughout the week. However I think another trend is more important to note. The strength of the  ( $USD ) relative to other assets is clear. This is a trend that needs to be incorporated into every investment thesis moving forward if it has not already. 

3. When risk (high beta small caps/high yield) is sold do we see a continued bid in Utilities and Consumer Staples?

ANSWER: Not yet. The below chart is confirmation of the previous observation that higher beta stocks were bought more aggressively. Both utilities ( XLU ) and consumer staples ( XLP ) underperformed both ( SPY, IWM ).

Overall a somewhat mixed week with the only clear dominant trend being $USD strength, and a somewhat mixed appetite for stock risk... to be continued...

Stocks - Pre Earnings Equity Grade (week of 07.21.14)

With the iVC reports showing some preliminary promise, I thought it would be worthwhile to begin tracking any potential predictive ability of the grading system. It's late so it's likely I'll have to update this post with better prose after I get some sleep. See this week's pre-earnings grades below. The reports are available for sale through the shop. 

equity grades_pre earnings week of 7.21.14