National-Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV) and Ion Geophysical (NYSE:IO) are both oils/energy companies, but which is the superior investment? We will contrast the two companies based on the strength of their analyst recommendations, dividends, earnings, profitability, valuation, institutional ownership and risk.

Analyst Recommendations

This is a summary of current ratings for National-Oilwell Varco and Ion Geophysical, as reported by

Sell Ratings Hold Ratings Buy Ratings Strong Buy Ratings Rating Score
National-Oilwell Varco 3 16 6 0 2.12
Ion Geophysical 0 0 0 0 N/A

National-Oilwell Varco presently has a consensus target price of $37.90, suggesting a potential upside of 11.31%. Given National-Oilwell Varco’s higher possible upside, equities analysts plainly believe National-Oilwell Varco is more favorable than Ion Geophysical.


This table compares National-Oilwell Varco and Ion Geophysical’s net margins, return on equity and return on assets.

Net Margins Return on Equity Return on Assets
National-Oilwell Varco -3.24% -1.10% -0.74%
Ion Geophysical -20.19% -102.40% -11.83%


National-Oilwell Varco pays an annual dividend of $0.20 per share and has a dividend yield of 0.6%. Ion Geophysical does not pay a dividend. National-Oilwell Varco pays out -31.7% of its earnings in the form of a dividend.

Volatility & Risk

National-Oilwell Varco has a beta of 0.89, meaning that its share price is 11% less volatile than the S&P 500. Comparatively, Ion Geophysical has a beta of 3.62, meaning that its share price is 262% more volatile than the S&P 500.

Earnings & Valuation

This table compares National-Oilwell Varco and Ion Geophysical’s revenue, earnings per share and valuation.

Gross Revenue Price/Sales Ratio Net Income Earnings Per Share Price/Earnings Ratio
National-Oilwell Varco $7.25 billion 1.78 -$2.41 billion ($0.63) -54.05
Ion Geophysical $172.81 million 1.38 -$65.14 million ($3.00) -6.67

Ion Geophysical has lower revenue, but higher earnings than National-Oilwell Varco. National-Oilwell Varco is trading at a lower price-to-earnings ratio than Ion Geophysical, indicating that it is currently the more affordable of the two stocks.

Institutional and Insider Ownership

91.8% of National-Oilwell Varco shares are held by institutional investors. Comparatively, 34.4% of Ion Geophysical shares are held by institutional investors. 0.6% of National-Oilwell Varco shares are held by insiders. Comparatively, 15.2% of Ion Geophysical shares are held by insiders. Strong institutional ownership is an indication that large money managers, hedge funds and endowments believe a company is poised for long-term growth.


National-Oilwell Varco beats Ion Geophysical on 11 of the 15 factors compared between the two stocks.

About National-Oilwell Varco

National Oilwell Varco, Inc. is an oilfield equipment manufacturer and technology provider. The Company operates through four segments: Rig Systems, Rig Aftermarket, Wellbore Technologies and Completion & Production Solutions. The Rig Systems segment makes and supports the capital equipment and integrated systems needed to drill oil and gas wells on land and offshore. The Rig Systems segment designs, manufactures and sells land rigs, offshore drilling equipment packages, and drilling rig components. The Rig Aftermarket segment provides aftermarket products and services to support a large installed base of land and offshore rigs, and drilling rig components manufactured by the Company’s Rig Systems segment. The Wellbore Technologies segment designs, manufactures, rents and sells a range of equipment and technologies used to perform drilling operations. The Completion & Production Solutions segment integrates technologies for well completions and oil and gas production.

About Ion Geophysical

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.

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