Smith's Definitely Keeping Up With the Joneses

On Tuesday, the oilfield service company with the wonderful name -- Smith International (NYSE: SII  ) -- offered proof positive that its sector can still bring home the bacon at earnings time.

For the quarter, the Houston-based company earned $209.8 million, or $1 a share, versus $166.8 million, or $0.83 a share, a year ago. Without the presence of a pair of marauding hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico during September, the company would have earned $211.9 million and a penny higher on the EPS line than its reported results.

Smith, which follows earnings results from such other oilfield services companies as Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB  ) , Halliburton (NYSE: HAL  ) , Weatherford (NYSE: WFT  ) , and Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI  ) , benefited from its August acquisition of W-H Energy Services. The purchase expanded Smith's presence in directional drilling, an increasingly important capability in the oilfield services area. Overall, the company's EPS results topped expectations by about three pennies.

Among Smith's operating units, its M-I SWACO segment, which comprises its majority-owned joint venture, including drilling and completion systems, separation equipment, waste management services, and production chemicals, increased its revenues 23% above the same quarter a year ago. The company's oilfield operation, which provides a variety of drilling equipment, raised its revenue 26% year over year, while the distribution segment increased its revenues 36% above the year-ago number.

Looking ahead, CEO Doug Rock called the "negative investment sentiment" toward the oil and oil services industry "characteristic of panic rather than reason." He noted that current oil prices provide "plenty of profit potential at today's industry price structure." On that basis, he said, capital will flow into the industry. With this as a backdrop, and based on expectations of record profits in the fourth quarter, management raised its EPS outlook for the year to a $3.83 to $3.88 range for the year, versus a current consensus of $3.83.

As you know, there aren't many companies or industries hiking their outlooks these days. Nevertheless, my inclination is to take Rock's comments seriously. I too believe that the whipping that oilfield service companies have taken of late has been overdone. Smith, along with several other members of the sector, appears to provide a significant opportunity for investors with a yen to buck a topsy-turvy market and build profits in the oil patch.

About 97% of Motley Fool CAPS players rating Smith International believe it will outperform the market, giving Smith International a rating of five stars. Why not add your opinion?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith likes the name of the primary company discussed above, but has no financial interest in it, nor any other company mentioned. He welcomes your comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


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