General comments – furiously conducting research

I have been intensely researching the oil and gas sector, and specifically looking for companies that have decent metrics and enough fortitude to not be operationally taken down due to financial impacts of low commodity prices. I also have been trying to find collateral damage, typical cases of the baby thrown out with the proverbial bathwater.

There are many, many “hits” on my screens which makes the research very slow going. Specifically I want to know about hedging, and financial covenants and their financial structure in general in addition to the usual metrics. Dredging this stuff is very slow going.

There is a lot of high-yield out there which is trading at quite distressed levels, some of which seems very alluring. But high yield of course comes with risk.

A simple example: Do you want to lend your money to Russia for 10 years even though you are compensated with a 13% yield to maturity? I’d actually gamble that their large cap companies (NYSE: RSX is their ETF) would fare better than an investment in their sovereign debt at the moment.

Here’s a more specific example: Do you want to be a HERO? Specifically (Nasdaq: HERO) Hercules Offshore is a third-tier deepwater drilling firm, which is of a lower tier than Seadrill (Nasdaq: SDRL), Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), Transocean (NYSE: RIG), etc. All of the drillers have gotten killed over the past couple months simply due to the fact that nobody wants to drill into expensive ocean when you can’t even make money on the shale inland.

In HERO’s case, their equity is trading as if the company is already dead, while the bond market is placing their 2019 debt issue at a yield to maturity of about 28%. So, what is more risky: Investing in Vladimir Putin, or Hercules Offshore?

Seadrill, however, is comparable to Russia – roughly 11.5% yield to maturity on 6 year debt vs. 13% for 10-year Russian debt.