NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Ensco  (ESV) are down 1.8% to $24.03 in morning trading today after BMO Capital Markets downgraded the London-based offshore driller to "underperform" from "market perform" and lowered its price target to $17 from $30.

"While we should have launched with an "underperform" rating on February 17, we did not expect the company to cut its dividend so soon. The dividend cut , to $0.60 from $3.00, removes the relative yield support and should lead to the stock trading toward our normalized NAV," analysts said.

Increased risk to the 8500 series rigs have also surfaced and analysts think these assets are likely to have a difficult time competing given "lower capabilities and efficiencies" when compared to other deepwater rigs, as suggested by Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC)  on its fourth quarter conference call.

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The average recommendation of 24 brokers' estimates on the stock is a "hold," and the mean price target is $28.69, according to Reuters.

TheStreet Ratings team rates ENSCO PLC as a Sell with a ratings score of D. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation:

"We rate ENSCO PLC (ESV) a SELL. This is driven by a few notable weaknesses, 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 1055.1% when compared to the same quarter one year ago, falling from $361.40 million to -$3,451.80 million.
  • Return on equity has greatly decreased when compared to its ROE from the same quarter one year prior. This is a signal of major weakness within the corporation. Compared to other companies in the Energy Equipment & Services industry and the overall market, ENSCO PLC's return on equity significantly trails that of both the industry average and the S&P 500.
  • Net operating cash flow has declined marginally to $530.80 million or 3.12% when compared to the same quarter last year. In conjunction, when comparing current results to the industry average, ENSCO PLC has marginally lower results.
  • Despite any intermediate fluctuations, we have only bad news to report on this stock's performance over the last year: it has tumbled by 53.78%, worse than the S&P 500's performance. Consistent with the plunge in the stock price, the company's earnings per share are down 877.64% 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.
  • ENSCO 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, ENSCO PLC swung to a loss, reporting -$11.69 versus $6.08 in the prior year. This year, the market expects an improvement in earnings ($4.37 versus -$11.69).
  • You can view the full analysis from the report here: ESV Ratings Report