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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Noble Corp. (NE) - Get Noble Corporation plc Report shares are down 2.17% to $16.67 in trading on Wednesday as oil prices continued their downward spiral in trading today.

Industry standard Brent crude oil fell below $56 a barrel in early trading today although it has recovered to settle at $56.82 a barrel, a 1.87% decline from its opening price.

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Oil prices have been flirting with five year lows since November when OPEC officials announced that they would not cut oil production, despite market supply surpluses, in an effort to maintain its market share.

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However, also affecting oil prices today is news out of China that the country's factory production declined in December for the first time in seven months, according to Reuters. Analysts at the news agency see this development as an indication that the demand for oil in the country is waning.

TheStreet Ratings team rates NOBLE CORP PLC as a Hold with a ratings score of C. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate NOBLE CORP PLC (NE) a HOLD. The primary factors that have impacted our rating are mixed - some indicating strength, some showing weaknesses, with little evidence to justify the expectation of either a positive or negative performance for this stock relative to most other stocks. The company's strengths can be seen in multiple areas, such as its robust revenue growth, attractive valuation levels and expanding profit margins. However, as a counter to these strengths, we also find weaknesses including unimpressive growth in net income, weak operating cash flow and a generally disappointing performance in the stock itself."

Highlights from the analysis by TheStreet Ratings Team goes as follows:

  • The revenue growth came in higher than the industry average of 16.1%. Since the same quarter one year prior, revenues rose by 29.4%. This growth in revenue does not appear to have trickled down to the company's bottom line, displayed by a decline in earnings per share.
  • The gross profit margin for NOBLE CORP PLC is rather high; currently it is at 51.82%. Regardless of NE's high profit margin, it has managed to decrease from the same period last year. Despite the mixed results of the gross profit margin, NE's net profit margin of 15.38% compares favorably to the industry average.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $356.48 million or 30.86% when compared to the same quarter last year. In addition, when comparing the cash generation rate to the industry average, the firm's growth is significantly lower.
  • The company, on the basis of change in net income from the same quarter one year ago, has significantly underperformed when compared to that of the S&P 500 and the Energy Equipment & Services industry. The net income has significantly decreased by 54.5% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $280.55 million to $127.49 million.
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: NE Ratings Report

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