Ion Geophysical Corporation (NYSE: IO) and Helix Energy Solutions Group (NYSE:HLX) are both small-cap oils/energy companies, but which is the superior business? We will compare the two companies based on the strength of their earnings, valuation, dividends, profitability, institutional ownership, risk and analyst recommendations.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of recent ratings and recommmendations for Ion Geophysical Corporation and Helix Energy Solutions Group, as provided by MarketBeat.com.

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
Ion Geophysical Corporation 0 0 0 0 N/A
Helix Energy Solutions Group 0 3 6 0 2.67

Helix Energy Solutions Group has a consensus price target of $9.33, indicating a potential upside of 18.68%. Given Helix Energy Solutions Group’s higher probable upside, analysts clearly believe Helix Energy Solutions Group is more favorable than Ion Geophysical Corporation.

Profitability

This table compares Ion Geophysical Corporation and Helix Energy Solutions Group’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
Ion Geophysical Corporation -20.03% -91.64% -12.33%
Helix Energy Solutions Group -12.09% -1.21% -0.71%

Valuation & Earnings

This table compares Ion Geophysical Corporation and Helix Energy Solutions Group’s gross revenue, earnings per share (EPS) and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio EBITDA Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
Ion Geophysical Corporation $192.55 million 0.55 $49.11 million ($3.27) -2.74
Helix Energy Solutions Group $544.13 million 2.13 $107.34 million ($0.51) -15.41

Helix Energy Solutions Group has higher revenue and earnings than Ion Geophysical Corporation. Helix Energy Solutions Group is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ion Geophysical Corporation, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Volatility & Risk

Ion Geophysical Corporation has a beta of 3.59, suggesting that its stock price is 259% more volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Helix Energy Solutions Group has a beta of 2.63, suggesting that its stock price is 163% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Insider & Institutional Ownership

33.5% of Ion Geophysical Corporation shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 86.9% of Helix Energy Solutions Group shares are held by institutional investors. 15.2% of Ion Geophysical Corporation shares are held by company insiders. Comparatively, 5.7% of Helix Energy Solutions Group shares are held by company insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that hedge funds, endowments and large money managers believe a company will outperform the market over the long term.

Summary

Helix Energy Solutions Group beats Ion Geophysical Corporation on 10 of the 12 factors compared between the two stocks.

Ion Geophysical Corporation Company Profile

ION Geophysical Corporation is a technology-focused company. It provides geophysical technology, services and solutions to the global oil and gas industry. Its offerings are designed to enable oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) companies to obtain images of the Earth’s subsurface. It offers services and products through three segments: E&P Technology & Services, E&P Operations Optimization, and Ocean Bottom Services. E&P Technology & Services provides services and products for complex and hard-to-image geologies, such as deepwater subsalt formations in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore East and West Africa and Brazil; unconventional reservoirs, such as those found onshore in shale, tight gas and oil sands formations, and offshore basin-wide seismic data and imaging programs. E&P Operations Optimization combines its Optimization Software and Services and Devices offerings. Ocean Bottom Services consists of OceanGeo, an ocean bottom data acquisition services company.

Helix Energy Solutions Group Company Profile

Helix Energy Solutions Group, Inc. is an international offshore energy services company. The Company provides services to the offshore energy industry, with a focus on well intervention and robotics operations. The Company operates in three segments: Well Intervention, Robotics and Production Facilities. Its Well Intervention segment includes the Company’s vessels and equipment used to perform well intervention services primarily in the Gulf of Mexico and North Sea regions. Its Robotics segment includes remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), trenchers and ROVDrills designed to complement offshore construction and well intervention services, and operates chartered ROV support vessels. Its Production Facilities segment includes the Helix Producer I (the HP I), a floating production vessel, the Helix Fast Response System (the HFRS), and its ownership interest in Independence Hub, LLC (Independence Hub).

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