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Deutsche Bank Says Top Oilfield Services Stocks Set to Outperform

Lee Jackson

What a change the past three months have brought. The euphoria from the OPEC production cuts and implementation have long since worn off, and with oil dropping below the $50 level, many investors started to get spooked. It didn’t help that institutional investors had overbought oil futures contracts, so selling them may have exacerbated the oil sell-off. The good thing for investors is some top companies are on sale now.

In a new research report, the team at Deutsche Bank feels we could be in the early stages of a multiyear capital expenditure downcycle, which can be longer than stock market cycles. While that may seem negative, the positive news is the good companies can outperform even in down cycles. The analysts noted this in the report.

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During the 1982 to 1999 capital spending (capex)  downcycle, there were six notable upcycles, averaging 21 months in duration and a nearly 80% increase in a basket of energy stocks. Capital investment looks set to decline for the second straight year in 2016 (first time since early 1990s and the most since the mid-1980s). Despite the gloomy backdrop, we look for oil service stocks to outperform on the basis laid out above.

We screened the Deutsche Bank oil services coverage universe for companies rated Buy with good upside to the firm's target price level. We found four that look outstanding.

Halliburton

This company is still down almost 25% from highs printed in the summer of 2014. Halliburton Co. (HAL) is one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. It serves the upstream oil and gas industry throughout the life cycle of the reservoir, from locating hydrocarbons and managing geological data to drilling and formation evaluation, well construction and completion, and optimizing production through the life of the field.

The oilfield giant announced last year a $1 billion investment to develop huge potential oil fields in Ecuador and has entered into a long-time deal with Petroamazonas, an Ecuador-based company involved in the exploration and development of the country’s oil reserves. With oil looking to stabilize in the $40 to $50 range, this top oil service company is a great stock to buy on sale, as the oil recovery has shown some legs.

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Halliburton is the second-largest provider of oil services and the number one player in pressure pumping services worldwide. For investors looking for an oilfield services company to add, this is arguably the best, and analysts feel it will be a huge benefactor as the frac market has tightened significantly and prices are 20% to 30% off the lows.

Halliburton shareholders receive a 1.4% dividend. The Deutsche Bank price target for the stock is $66. The Wall Street consensus target is $64.26, and shares closed Wednesday at $51.54.

Schlumberger

This top oil services stock is another large cap pick for more conservative accounts.

Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) is a supplier of technology, integrated project management and information solutions to the international oil and gas exploration and production industry. The company remains the largest oilfield services company in the world, with far-reaching operations all around the globe, and it could be poised for years of solid growth despite the huge turn down in oil pricing. It operates in the oilfield service markets through three groups.

The Reservoir Characterization Group consists of the principal technologies involved in finding and defining hydrocarbon resources. These include WesternGeco, Wireline, Testing Services and Schlumberger Information Solutions.

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The Drilling Group consists of the principal technologies involved in the drilling and positioning of oil and gas wells and consist of Bits & Drilling Tools, M-I SWACO, Drilling & Measurements, Land Rigs and Integrated Drilling Services.

The Production Group consists of the principal technologies involved in the lifetime production of oil and gas reservoirs and includes Well Services, Water Services, Integrated Production Services and Schlumberger Production Management.

Shareholders receive a 2.5% dividend. Deutsche Bank has a $101 price objective, while the consensus target is $97.31. The stock ended Wednesday at $80.25.

Superior Energy Services

Superior Energy Services Inc. (SPN) serves the drilling, completion and production-related needs of oil and gas companies worldwide through its brand name drilling products and its integrated completion and well intervention services and tools, supported by an engineering staff who plan and design solutions for customers.

It is Deutsche Bank's current favorite mid-cap stock to play the U.S. land services recovery, and analysts think investors should see the impact of cost reductions as this year progresses, which some feel could help offset pricing pressure. The sector downturn has led to reductions in capex and capacity attrition, a positive for the survivors like Superior that have managed both extremely well in a very difficult environment.

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Investors are paid a 2.1% dividend. Deutsche Bank has a whopping $26 price target. The consensus target is $20.33, and shares closed Wednesday at $14.18.

Weatherford

This stock has been absolutely demolished since its 2014 highs, but it may aggressive investors big upside potential. Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) is one of the largest multinational oilfield service companies, providing innovative solutions, technology and services to the oil and gas industry. It operates in over 100 countries and has a network of approximately 1,200 locations, including manufacturing, service, research and development, and training facilities and employs approximately 37,000 people.

The company offers customers a wide range of global capabilities, including a proprietary system for pressure management in the mushrooming arena of subsea production. The changes in government oil policy in Mexico in 2014 may provide some favorable tailwinds for the company, despite the huge downturn in oil pricing. This is currently the top large cap pick at Deutsche Bank.

The company recently named Mark McCollum as its new chief executive, luring him from his role as Halliburton's chief financial officer. Weatherford immediately cut ties with interim CEO Krishna Shivram, who many analysts felt would keep the job. McCollum is scheduled to take the reins as president and CEO of Weatherford in late April.

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The $8.00 Deutsche Bank price target compares with the consensus target of $7.46. The stock closed Wednesday at $6.28.

Even if the capital expenditure downcycle does stay in place, these four companies are well positioned to continue to do well. They make sense for long-term investors who want to keep a weighting in the sector.

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