Profit From Oil’s Rise… With This Aviation Stock
There’s an old joke about helicopters: they don’t so much fly as beat the air into submission. I can attest to the nerve-wracking clamor of these machines, because for years I’ve flown them as a pilot.
However, helicopters are more than just improbable flying contraptions — they’re productivity-enhancing tools vital for a wide range of industries.
And you probably didn’t realize it, but a largely ignored aviation stock makes an intriguing play right now on rising energy prices: Bristow Group (NYSE: BRS), the largest publicly traded offshore transportation company in the world.
Based in Houston, Bristow currently operates 556 helicopters, the planet’s biggest commercial offshore rotorcraft fleet. The company’s fleet also includes 40 fixed-wing aircraft. As the dominant aviation operator of its type, Bristow is set to thrive from the resurgence in deepwater drilling.
With oil prices now hovering at about $54 a barrel, money is pouring back into the stocks of exploration and production giants, drilling companies, and master limited partnerships. About $50/bbl is considered the threshold for energy companies to break even.
Robert Rapier, chief investment strategist of The Energy Strategist, thinks oil prices have found a floor and could push even higher.
“Oil prices seem to have found some stability in the low to mid-50s, as investors continue to watch the dynamic between the cuts made by OPEC members, and the increase in production by U.S. shale producers. At present the cuts exceed the production increase…
If it becomes clear that global inventories are coming down, expect oil prices to push on up to the $60/bbl level.”
Bristow is an aviation stock that rises and falls in tandem with energy, making it an unconventional, more diversified way to profit from rising oil prices. Let’s take a look.
The wild blue yonder…
The guy wearing the flight suit and a grin is me, emerging from the cockpit of an AH-1 Cobra gunship operated by the Pennsylvania National Guard. I learned to fly during my long stint as an aerospace/defense reporter. Flying a helicopter is exhilarating… almost as exhilarating as making money in the stock market. And if you’re looking for an under-the-radar moneymaking opportunity, consider Bristow.
Farther out to sea and faster back to shore — that’s increasingly the demand of energy companies on Bristow Group.
On a frequent intra-day basis, Bristow flies workers and equipment to and from rigs that are hundreds of miles out to sea. About 90% of the company’s revenue stems from offshore oil and gas transportation. The remaining revenue is generated by the company’s search and rescue (SAR) segment, emergency medical services (EMS), helicopter maintenance facilities, pilot training academy, and other operations.
Offshore transport is a highly dangerous job performed in challenging environmental conditions, but Bristow is one of the few companies with the expertise and safety track record to garner loyal clients such as Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM), Chevron (NYSE: CVX), ConocoPhillips (NYSE: COP), and BP (NYSE: BP).
After enduring a long slump while energy prices were low, Bristow’s stock is now poised for outsized capital appreciation.
Advances in drilling technology are allowing companies to operate rigs in water that’s deeper than previously feasible. Bristow is reaping more of the profits from this deepwater activity than any other helicopter operator.
Shallower oil prospects are always drilled first. For that reason, the prolific oil discoveries of the future like beneath water deeper than 600 feet, the level typically considered the deepwater mark.
New discoveries in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil and West Africa have broken existing deepwater records, pushing rigs into water that’s 3,000 feet deep or more. This type of “ultra-deepwater” drilling is a bonanza for Bristow.
Bristow’s presence is vast, with operations in virtually every region of the world. The company is in expansion mode among its offshore energy clients in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. The company views Brazil as the “North Sea” of South America and maintains considerable operations in the country.
After a difficult two years, Bristow is positioned to come roaring back. During the lean years when oil prices were at historic lows, the company cut costs, streamlined operations, mothballed redundant aircraft, and diversified into non-energy functions such as SAR and EMS. It was a far-sighted strategic pivot. Now, as oil prices rise, beaten-down Bristow should enjoy a rebound of exponential proportions.
Of course, there’s no sugarcoating it: Bristow’s stock has suffered along with the rest of the energy patch, with shares declining 0.57% over the past 12 months compared to a gain of about 19% for the S&P 500. However, the company has enjoyed robust earnings estimate revisions over the past month, indicating that analysts are becoming more bullish on the firm’s prospects.
Analysts expect Bristow to rack up year-over-year earnings growth next year of 11.10%. With a market cap of only $546.4 million, Bristow is small enough to offer market-beating capital appreciation but large enough to withstand the cyclical shocks of the energy sector that have driven many of its smaller competitors into bankruptcy.
With BRS shares now trading at about $15.50, the average analyst one-year price target for the stock is $19.80, for a gain of roughly 28%. If you’re looking for a play on energy’s resurrection that isn’t a traditional oil and gas stock, consider this major aviation company.
Jump aboard a high-flying disruptor…
On September 14, 1939, the VS-300, the world’s first practical helicopter, took flight at Stratford, Connecticut (pictured). Designed and test flown by Igor Sikorsky, the helicopter was the aerospace “disruptor” of its day.
Fast forward to 2015, when Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) bought Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies (NYSE: UTX) for more than $9 billion.
Igor Sikorsky’s multi-billion dollar success is a reminder: one of the surest ways to make money is to invest early in the fledgling start-ups that are pioneering disruptive technology.
As Jim Pearce, chief investment strategist of Breakthrough Tech Profits explains:
“A common theme in the technology industry is disruption… Part of our mission is to keenly watch and wait for such disruptions to make you money and guard you from losses.”
The trick is finding these hidden gems before the rest of the investment herd catches on. And once again, Jim and his team have done just that. They’ve unearthed a tiny company that controls the proprietary technology behind an emerging device that’s estimated to arrive in 64% of American homes… perhaps even yours.