)10 Whereas Walmart is an example of a type of "compounder" we like to buy, Ensco is an example of a "3:1" - a purchase we make when we believe the potential upside is 3x larger than the potential downside. We haveowned Ensco for a number of years, and it has also been discussed in the past, along with our investments in other oil service companies. 11 Ensco is an average business with no long-term competitive advantages. It seems that to effectively compete, a rig company only requires capital and a contract with an Asian shipyard. Such ease of market entry convinces us that a company that builds a rig and then leases it should not expect to earn more than a 10% to 12% long-term return on capital. In a tight market, demand exceeds the number of rigs available, and return on capital rises above the long-term average. At such times, one generally expects to see new orders for rigs. As those rigs come to market a few years down the road, day rates, and thus returns on capital, decline.
Earnings at Ensco and other oil service companies are currently above our expectations for normal returns on capital due to a shortage of available rigs. Capital and time will correct that. Currently, there are lots of rigs under construction. In 2013, 35 new jackup rigs will be built and delivered, an increase of 8% to the current worldwide fleet of 426. Additionally, 21 new floater rigs will be built and delivered, an increase of 7% Continue Reading »