Oil States International, Inc. (OIS): The Best ‘Pick And Shovel’ Stock For The Energy Boom

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During the 1849 California gold rush, the yellow metal sold for between $12 and $35 an ounce. That was enough in those days to make you rich — if you could find it.

But consider this: Because the Western frontier was undeveloped at the time, the price of basic goods for these intrepid miners was through the roof.

Eggs cost $3 each. A bottle of whiskey cost $16. According to “The Gold Rush Chronicles,” a history of the period: “Pills were $10 each without advice, $100 with.”

You may already be familiar with the story of Levi Strauss, the German immigrant who made his fortune during the gold rush — not by striking gold, but by supplying the rough-and-tumble miners with sturdy denim overalls.

The origin of the term “picks and shovels” may have had its roots back in the 1850s when smart businessmen like Strauss realized they could make just as much money with a lot less risk supplying the miners with picks, shovels and other essentials.

Today, we can use the same idea to our advantage by investing in the “picks and shovels” companies behind the U.S. energy boom.

As StreetAuthority expert Dave Forest wrote in his most recent issue of Scarcity & Real Wealth:

“It’s getting harder these days to find good value in the energy sector. Indices have moved up, and company valuations have become richer. On a qualitative level, investor sentiment is running high in many energy subsectors. North American exploration and production companies (E&Ps), for example, are soaring relative to their peers elsewhere in the world. I think this is because unconventional oil and gas in the United States has been one of the few economic “good news stories” among developed nations since 2008.”

The “pick and shovel” play we’ll be looking at today is still a great value.

Shares are cheap at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10 and a price-to-book ratio of 2, both of which are below industry averages.

And just like the picks and shovels providers in the days of old, this company’s products and services are essential to the drilling rigs of big energy companies around the world.

Oil States International, Inc. (NYSE:OIS) is in the enviable position of being one of the leading suppliers of specialty oil and gas equipment and support. The company is an industry leader in the specialized engineering of offshore platforms, subsea pipelines and floating drilling rigs.

These offshore drilling environments are some of the most challenging workplaces in the world. In addition to the nuts and bolts required to run a deepwater drill, Oil States International, Inc. (NYSE:OIS) also provides value-added services to offshore workers like food services, facility management and waste removal.

The company has a significant onshore presence as well, providing mobile drilling rigs and rental tools to companies working in every major shale play in the U.S. With offices across the world, Oil States International, Inc. (NYSE:OIS) is well diversified. The company’s products are mostly manufactured in the U.S. and U.K. and then shipped to energy production sites around the world.

On July 30, Oil States International, Inc. (NYSE:OIS) announced that it would spin off its accommodations business (workforce housing and services) into a separate company that will be structured as a REIT. The proposed spinoff will be executed through a tax-free distribution to Oil States’ shareholders during or before the 2014 summer.

Management believes the split will create additional shareholder value by allowing the spinoff company to gain the tax advantages of a real estate investment trust (REIT).

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