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Ion Geophysical Inc. (IO) Offers Opportunity as Large International Players Buy In

Any industry needs the basics to make it run. Technology needs solid minds while manufacturing needs skilled artisans. Exploration needs data of many kinds. A company that can provide that data, at a reasonable and successful rate, is one that will always profit.

Ion Geophysical Inc., a seismic mapping company, works to map subterranean natural gas and oil structures world-wide. The company, based in Huston, Texas, has recently entered into a financial agreement with a Chinese concern to dramatically reduce debt and enable opportunities for expansion.

Although one may assume that subterranean imaging might be rather straight-forward in nature, it is slightly more varied. In this regard, the company operates through four fairly distinct segments: land based, marine, data assessment and data solutions. Given the four varying segments of the company, it may be said that the company is a full one stop shop for assessing opportunity where searching for minerals, of all kinds, is concerned. Perhaps the largest strength of the company is its ability to assess opportunity in the world’s oceans. There are solid opportunities on the “land” portions of the globe but, in a real general sense, the globes waters are where real potential exists.

Investors have come to understand this aspect of the company and are taking advantage. BGP Inc., a leading Chinese geophysical company, has come to terms with the company to purchase 51% of shares for $175 million. Ultimately, this will enable Ion to eliminate debt and widen borrowing capacity for expansion. Although the general reasoning behind the purchase is likely directed toward land based survey, the ability to borrow will give the company latitude for a strategy in its other areas such as ocean survey.

This infusion is a solid statement in the survey methods of the company. It is also a testament toward how the company is operating in a fairly commodity driven area. Head count has been reduced, along with other cost cutting measures, to move as the market dictates. It does seem that those moving forward with this progressive and innovative company have a solid idea of where they are and need to be. Oil and gas exploration is not going to go away and Ion Geophysical will be at the fore for some time.

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