Ensco Plc (NYSE:ESV) was the target of a significant growth in short interest in the month of August. As of August 31st, there was short interest totalling 96,544,300 shares, a growth of 15.9% from the August 15th total of 83,291,287 shares. Based on an average daily volume of 15,689,759 shares, the short-interest ratio is currently 6.2 days. Currently, 32.0% of the shares of the company are short sold.

A number of research firms have recently commented on ESV. ValuEngine upgraded Ensco Plc from a “sell” rating to a “hold” rating in a research note on Friday, September 1st. BMO Capital Markets lifted their price objective on Ensco Plc from $4.75 to $5.00 and gave the stock a “market perform” rating in a research note on Friday, July 28th. Jefferies Group LLC reiterated a “hold” rating and issued a $6.00 price objective (down from $9.00) on shares of Ensco Plc in a research note on Tuesday, July 18th. Seaport Global Securities reiterated a “sell” rating on shares of Ensco Plc in a research note on Wednesday, July 12th. Finally, Bank of America Corporation lowered Ensco Plc from a “neutral” rating to an “underperform” rating and dropped their price objective for the stock from $7.00 to $5.00 in a research note on Friday, June 30th. Four analysts have rated the stock with a sell rating, seven have given a hold rating and nine have given a buy rating to the company. The stock currently has an average rating of “Hold” and a consensus price target of $9.83.

Several institutional investors and hedge funds have recently made changes to their positions in the company. BlackRock Inc. increased its holdings in shares of Ensco Plc by 25.3% during the second quarter. BlackRock Inc. now owns 32,777,289 shares of the offshore drilling services provider’s stock worth $169,130,000 after purchasing an additional 6,612,735 shares during the period. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP increased its holdings in shares of Ensco Plc by 170.3% during the second quarter. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP now owns 16,775,071 shares of the offshore drilling services provider’s stock worth $86,564,000 after purchasing an additional 10,568,874 shares during the period. FMR LLC increased its holdings in shares of Ensco Plc by 969.0% during the first quarter. FMR LLC now owns 14,705,005 shares of the offshore drilling services provider’s stock worth $131,610,000 after purchasing an additional 13,329,369 shares during the period. State Street Corp increased its holdings in shares of Ensco Plc by 1.6% during the second quarter. State Street Corp now owns 12,112,020 shares of the offshore drilling services provider’s stock worth $62,497,000 after purchasing an additional 192,165 shares during the period. Finally, Capital Guardian Trust Co. increased its holdings in shares of Ensco Plc by 189.3% during the second quarter. Capital Guardian Trust Co. now owns 10,637,145 shares of the offshore drilling services provider’s stock worth $54,888,000 after purchasing an additional 6,960,500 shares during the period. 91.56% of the stock is currently owned by institutional investors.

Shares of Ensco Plc (NYSE ESV) opened at 5.18 on Friday. The firm’s 50-day moving average price is $4.68 and its 200-day moving average price is $6.60. Ensco Plc has a 12-month low of $4.10 and a 12-month high of $12.04. The firm has a market capitalization of $1.57 billion, a P/E ratio of 32.38 and a beta of 1.65.

Ensco Plc (NYSE:ESV) last announced its earnings results on Thursday, July 27th. The offshore drilling services provider reported ($0.10) EPS for the quarter, topping the Thomson Reuters’ consensus estimate of ($0.12) by $0.02. Ensco Plc had a net margin of 2.68% and a return on equity of 0.77%. The company had revenue of $457.50 million for the quarter, compared to analysts’ expectations of $453.48 million. During the same period last year, the firm earned $2.04 earnings per share. The business’s revenue for the quarter was down 49.7% on a year-over-year basis. Equities analysts predict that Ensco Plc will post ($0.38) earnings per share for the current fiscal year.

The firm also recently announced a quarterly dividend, which will be paid on Friday, September 22nd. Stockholders of record on Monday, September 11th will be issued a dividend of $0.01 per share. The ex-dividend date is Friday, September 8th. This represents a $0.04 annualized dividend and a dividend yield of 0.77%. Ensco Plc’s dividend payout ratio is presently 23.53%.

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About Ensco Plc

Ensco plc is an offshore contract drilling company. The Company provides offshore contract drilling services to the international oil and gas industry. Its segments include Floaters, Jackups and Other. The Floaters segment includes its drillships and semisubmersible rigs, and provides contract drilling.

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