Seadrill (SDRL) was scheduled to file for a pre-packaged bankruptcy today. When it didn’t, the shares soared. Before finishing the day up 17.46%–a 3 cents a share gain to 23 cents–the stock was up as much as 31.17% as of noon in New York.
If you’ve been trading Seadrill shares, as I have, as the company moves toward bankruptcy, in an effort to recoup at least some of the losses from the collapse of this stock in the rout in the deep-sea drilling sector, I think it’s now time to move on. There might be one more move left in the stock. Maybe something akin to the story that a Chinese company was going to buy the driller that drove the shares up 43% in the week that ended on September 1. But I doubt it. (Why would anyone buy Seadrill until the company’s deal with its creditors had closed?) And I think Seadrill will finally enter bankruptcy, either through a pre-packaged deal with its creditors (the best outcome) or a straight Chapter 11 filing. Either way it’s hard for me to see equity holders getting more than 20 cents or less on their existing shares.
So I’m going to call formal quits to my participation in the Seadrill saga by selling these shares out of my Dividend Portfolio with something close to a total loss in the position. (Minus whatever you made, if anything, in trading the Seadrill end game.) I admit to being seduced by the high yield on these shares and to remaining convinced for far too long that the company would work out some refinancing that preserved more of a stake in the company for equity holders.
The irony, of course (and I can’t say I find this funny) is that creditors–which won’t include shareholders–will wind up with a huge stake, post-bankruptcy, in one of the best deep-sea drilling fleets in the world. The company’s fleet of jack-up and deep-sea floating rigs is substantially younger–and therefore more cost efficient–than the fleets of competitors such as Ensco (ESV) and Transocean (RIG). If you think there’s likely to be even a modest recovery in demand for ocean drilling, a post-bankruptcy Seadrill looks like a very interesting opportunity.
But that’s only after the pain of this week’s likely bankruptcy filing.