NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Noble Corp.  (NE) - Get Report are slipping, down 2.42% to $14.09 in midday trading Tuesday, as Brent crude trades below $56 a barrel.

Oil prices are in the red amid signs of slowing growth in China and Saudi Arabian oil production approaching an all-time high, Reuters reports.

Factory activity in China, the world's second-largest economy and the biggest importer of oil, fell in March, Reuters added.

Brent crude for May delivery is down 1.38% to $55.15 a barrel as of 11:49 a.m. ET, while WTI crude for May delivery is trading lower by 0.48% to $47.22 a barrel.

Noble Corp. is a British company, operating as a major contract driller of oil and natural gas wells, with its focus largely on ultra-deepwater and high-specification jack-up drilling opportunities.

Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates NOBLE CORP PLC as a Sell with a ratings score of D+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate NOBLE CORP PLC (NE) a SELL. This is driven by a number of negative factors, which we believe should have a greater impact than any strengths, and could make it more difficult for investors to achieve positive results compared to most of the stocks we cover. The company's weaknesses can be seen in multiple areas, such as its deteriorating net income, disappointing return on equity, weak operating cash flow, generally disappointing historical performance in the stock itself and feeble growth in its earnings per share."

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

  • 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 450.9% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $173.70 million to -$609.57 million.
  • Current return on equity is lower than its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a clear sign of weakness within the company. Compared to other companies in the Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, NOBLE CORP PLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has decreased to $389.91 million or 27.88% 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.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 48.62%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 525.00% compared to the year-earlier quarter. Naturally, the overall market trend is bound to be a significant factor. However, in one sense, the stock's sharp decline last year is a positive for future investors, making it cheaper (in proportion to its earnings over the past year) than most other stocks in its industry. But due to other concerns, we feel the stock is still not a good buy right now.
  • NOBLE CORP PLC has experienced a steep decline in earnings per share in the most recent quarter in comparison to its performance from the same quarter a year ago. The company has reported a trend of declining earnings per share over the past two years. However, the consensus estimate suggests that this trend should reverse in the coming year. During the past fiscal year, NOBLE CORP PLC swung to a loss, reporting -$0.67 versus $1.86 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($2.09 versus -$0.67).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: NE Ratings Report