The Deep Allure Of Pool Energy

Don't follow the crowd. That's what adviser Charlie LaLoggia is telling the many investors chasing oil stocks. These companies are bubbling because crude prices are firming, but he thinks the shares are near their peak. Instead, LaLoggia likes Pool Energy Services (PESC), which does drilling and maintenance for oil and gas companies, mainly in Alaska, California, and the Gulf of Mexico.

What's Pool Energy's allure? Takeover prospects. Never mind that the shares, now at 9, are trading below their book value of 9 1/2 or that Pool will, according to analysts, earn 20 cents a share in 1995--vs. a loss of 94 cents last year.

The speculation is that Nabors Industries (NBR)--an oil-and-gas equipment-and-services company--may make a run for Pool Energy, in which it already has a 6.4% stake. In a buyout, Pool Energy is worth 14 to 15 a share, figures LaLoggia. Nabors has been in an acquisitive mode for some time, according to analyst Joe Agular of Johnson Rice, an investment firm in New Orleans. Agular says Pool Energy is "attractively valued based on its healthy cash-flow."

Nabors acquired its stake in Pool Energy last June. A Pool spokesman says officials of the two companies met once after the purchase. Nabors Chairman and CEO Eugene Isenberg says he's still evaluating several alternatives, "including purchasing more Pool shares, making a proposal for a merger or other combination, and seeking board representation."