The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Ensco, Rowan, Precision Drilling, Williams and Encana

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL -October 10, 2018 - Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Ensco plcESV , Rowan Companies plcRDC , Precision Drilling Corp.PDS , Williams Companies Inc.WMB and Encana CorporationECA .

Here are highlights from Tuesday's Analyst Blog:

Oil & Gas Stock Roundup: Drilling Industry Enjoys M&A Boom

It was a week where oil prices ended at their highest settlement since late 2014, while natural gas futures rallied to their highest levels since January.

On the news front, the sector witnessed a spate of mergers and acquisitions activities, particularly in the drilling space. Offshore driller Ensco plc agreed to snap up smaller rival Rowan Companies plc in a $2.38 billion deal, while Canada's Precision Drilling Corp. is set to acquire its peer Trinidad Drilling Ltd. for C$1.03 billion.

Overall, it was another good week for the sector. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 1.5% to close at $74.34 per barrel, while natural gas prices gained 4.5% to $3.143 per million Btu (MMBtu). (See the last 'Oil & Gas Stock Roundup' here: LNG Canada Progress, Brazil Auctions & More )

The U.S. crude benchmark gained for the sixth time in seven weeks on prospects ofa supply crunch once the U.S. sanctions on Iran's energy sector are implemented from Nov 4. Data showing drillers in the United States cutting oil rigs for third consecutive week brought further upside.

Meanwhile, natural gas jumped to its highest in eight months as inventories remain significantly below their five-year average ahead of the upcoming winter.

Recap of the Week's Most Important Stories

1.    Offshore drillers Ensco and Rowan Companies have reached an agreement to merge in an all stock deal. The enterprise value of the combined entity is projected at $12 billion, based on the closing price of the companies' shares on Oct 5, 2018. The combined company will have a fleet of 82 offshore rigs, which includes 28 floaters and 54 jack-ups.

The merged entity expects to realize annual pre-tax synergies of about $150 million. Of the total, more than 75% of targeted synergies are projected to be realized within a year of closing. The deal, expected to close in the first half of 2019, is projected to be accretive to cash flow per share in 2020.

The combined company's balance sheet is expected to have liquidity of about $3.9 billion, including $1.9 billion of cash and short-term investments. (Read more Ensco to Merge With Rowan, Form Leading Offshore Driller )

2.    In a bid to further cement its market position, Canada's largest drilling contractor Precision Drilling Corp. is set to acquire its peer Trinidad Drilling Limited, the third largest driller in the nation, in a deal worth C$1.03 billion.

Subject to satisfactory closing conditions and other regulatory approvals, the deal is set for closure by late 2018. Post the culmination of the deal, Precision will own 71% stake in the combined entity and Trinidad will hold the remaining 29%.

Acquiring Trinidad's super-spec American rig fleet has been the primary deal motive for Precision. Notably, the Canadian drilling industry is still mired in funk due to widening differentials, along with the oversupply of rigs and stiff competition.

The deal looks fairly compelling for Precision as it solidifies the company's position in the relatively lucrative U.S. counterpart, wherein drilling demand is soaring, given advanced technologies. (Read more Precision Outbids Ensign in C$1.03B Buyout of Trinidad )

3.    Bringing in pleasant news for Williams Companies Inc. , the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently gave its final nod to place Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline into service. Williams' Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project is likely to come online from tomorrow.

Importantly, the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline, worth $3 billion, is an expansion of the company's Transco pipeline, which is the largest-volume natural gas transmission system in the United States. It will transport Marcellus and Utica shale gas from Pennsylvania to other parts of the country. Supported by long-term shipping commitments, Williams boosted the transportation capacity of Atlantic Sunrise by 12% to 15.8 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d).

The company expects the pipeline to add value to its existing energy infrastructure, which will provide it with a steady flow of revenues in the future. This will also help citizens by providing them access to an affordable and clean energy source, as well as contribute to the economic growth of the country. (Read more Williams Gets Final Go-Ahead for Atlantic Sunrise From FERC )

4.    Encana Corporation recently clinched a $480-million (or C$615 million) deal to offload its San Juan assets located in New Mexico to privately held DJR Energy, LLC.

Per the deal, Encana will vend 182,000 net acres, which accounted for 5,400 barrels of oil equivalent per day (72.2% liquids) of average production in 2017. Subject to satisfactory closing conditions, the transaction is scheduled for closure in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The deal will advance Encana's strategy to concentrate on its four core basins, namely Montney and Duvernay gas formations in British Columbia and Alberta, and the Permian and Eagle Ford shale plays in Texas. The transaction will streamline the company's portfolio through the sale of non-core assets and help it to refocus its production spending in core plays and fewer geographical areas. (Read more Encana to Vend San Juan Assets, Optimize Portfolio )

You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here .

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss . This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance  for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.

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Encana Corporation (ECA): Free Stock Analysis Report

Ensco plc (ESV): Free Stock Analysis Report

Rowan Companies PLC (RDC): Free Stock Analysis Report

Precision Drilling Corporation (PDS): Free Stock Analysis Report

Williams Companies, Inc. (The) (WMB): Free Stock Analysis Report

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

This article appears in: Investing , Stocks
Referenced Symbols: ECA , ESV , RDC , PDS , WMB

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