Noble Energy, (NYSE: NBL) is a company I’ve had my eye on for a while. Recently they had been trading as high as 8X earnings and I thought that was a little overvalued. My patience has been rewarded and shares are down about 30% over the last six months, making the multiple much more palatable.
Noble is a legacy wildcatter whose roots go back almost a hundred years to the 1930s when Lloyd Noble bought his first drilling rig. Over the years it spawned several subsidiary companies that had individual remits and competencies. In 2002, there was a rebranding as Noble Energy that placed all of the E&P assets into one company. The survivor is now a good-sized independent oil company with a global footprint, exploring for and producing oil and gas all over the world.
Noble is still a wildcatter at heart-someone who looks for oil in places that it isn't currently produced and has a pretty decent track record in the exploration arena. Most notably, the massive discoveries offshore Israel that inspired this article.
The ownership thesis for Noble is keyed to this successful wildcatter spirit that takes them into rank exploration areas and delivers growth.
With the first gas discovery at Mari B in 2004 and followed in 2009 by the Tamar discovery, Noble pioneered hydrocarbon development in Israel's coastal waters. In 2010, continued exploration delivered the "Mother" of all gas fields in this locality, Leviathan (named appropriately…