In its weekly release, Houston-based oilfield services company
Baker Hughes Inc.
) reported a dip in the U.S. rig count (number of rigs searching
for oil and gas in the country). This fall can be attributed to a
decrease in the tally of oil-directed rigs, partially offset by
an increase in natural gas rig count.
BAKER-HUGHES (BHI): Free Stock Analysis
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The Baker Hughes rig count, issued since 1944, acts as an
important yardstick for drilling contractors like
Helmerich & Payne
), etc. in gauging the overall business environment of the oil
and gas industry.
Analysis of the Data
Rigs engaged in exploration and production in the U.S. totaled
1,762 for the week ended January 4, 2013. This was down by 1 from
the previous week's rig count and indicates the sixth decrease in
as many weeks.
Despite this, the current nationwide rig count is more than
double than that of the lowest level reached in recent years (876
in the week ended June 12, 2009), though it is way below the
prior-year level of 2,007. It rose to a 22-year high in 2008,
peaking at 2,031 in the weeks ending August 29 and September 12.
Rigs engaged in land operations descended by 1 to 1,691, while
inland waters activity offshore drilling remained steady at 20 to
51 rigs, respectively.
Natural Gas Rig Count:
The natural gas rig count - which slumped to a 13-year low in
early November 2012 - increased for the third successive week to
439 (a gain of 8 rigs from the previous week). Despite the weekly
improvement, the number of gas-directed rigs is down 46% from its
2012 peak of 811, achieved a year ago. In fact, the current
natural gas rig count remains 73% below its all-time high of
1,606 reached in late summer 2008.
Oil Rig Count:
The oil rig count - which was at a 25-year high of 1,432 in
August - fell by 9 to 1,318. Nevertheless, the current tally is
way above the previous year's rig count of 1,191. It has
recovered strongly from a low of 179 in June 2009, rising 7.4
Miscellaneous Rig Count:
The miscellaneous rig count (primarily drilling for geothermal
energy) at 5 remained unchanged from the previous week.
Rig Count by Type:
The number of vertical drilling rigs rose by 3 to 480 while the
horizontal/directional rig count (encompassing new drilling
technology that has the ability to drill and extract gas from
dense rock formations, also known as shale formations) was down
by 4 to 1,282. However, horizontal rig units - that reached an
all-time high of 1,193 in May 2012 - increased by 1 from the last
week's level to 1,112.
Among the companies mentioned above, Diamond Offshore,
Transocean, Nabors, Noble and Patterson-UTI Energy are all Zacks
#3 Rank (Hold) stocks, implying that these are expected to
perform in line with the broader U.S. equity market over the next
one to three months.
However, Baker Hughes retains a Zacks #5 Rank, which translates
into a short-term Strong Sell rating, while Helmerich &
Payne's Zacks #2 Rank implies that the companies are likely to
outperform the broader U.S. equity market over the next one to