I have done nothing other than look at the summary financial statements of BP, but on paper they look undervalued. The mess in the Gulf of Mexico, however, will be costing them considerable amounts of money. I’ve projected a couple years of earnings ($40 billion) that will likely go down the tubes as a result of this environmental incident.
The market will take BP down to the point where nobody will expect, and when everybody has written off the stock, that is usually the time to buy. In essence, this is a psychological play, so it involves more game theory than financial analysis since it is likely that BP will remain a continuing entity in the future. Their balance sheet is fine – about $40 billion in debt and $7 billion in free cash flow ($20B income) in 2009, so they won’t be facing any solvency issues.
The better question is whether one should invest in the drilling companies. It is likely lease rates will drop since offshore drilling will have significant demand drops and the market has already been pricing this in. As an example, Transocean has also been slaughtered.
I generally do not look into companies that are not trading in Canada or the USA, and BP is a British company, so I will not be considering them seriously. However, the other companies (e.g. the aforementioned drillers) I will be investigating. Since there are so many eyeballs on this sector, there must be other circumstances (e.g. panic) that would be required to ensure that you are getting good value for your investment. It is also exceedingly difficult to predict when to catch the falling knife and the investment to invest in BP is essentially that – you need to place your purchase orders when everybody has gotten their hands so bloodied up trying to catch the knife that they have given up trying.
I would not bother thinking about this until BP has cut their dividend.