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Last week, I honked about FMC's unexpectedly strong results. Sure, margins were goosed a bit by some favorable one-off items, but that doesn't take away from the fact that the company was talking about record operating profits amid a lousy macro environment. Subsea services are just that swell.
That brings us to Cameron, which followed in FMC's webbed footsteps with a fine earnings report of its own. While incoming orders fell to just half their prior-year level of $1.8 billion, they weren't far off the first quarter numbers. As with FMC, Cameron reported strong execution and margins. As with FMC's earnings boost, Cameron got a leg up from a tax rate that is poised to head higher in the quarters ahead.
Perhaps more important was the outlook offered by Cameron, which echoed the positive sentiment expressed by its subsea peer. As is the case with rig outfitter National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV ) , Petrobras (NYSE: PBR ) is key to that bullish view, given the energy company's large pending awards for certain deepwater oil and gas gathering equipment. Maybe the Brazilian giant's acknowledged difficulty in hitting its production goals this year will motivate it to make an award sooner rather than later. Cameron isn't expecting much before year's end, however.
Beyond Brazil, Cameron and other offshore players like Oceaneering (NYSE: OII ) and Acergy SA (Nasdaq: ACGY ) have to be encouraged by the pace at which Ghana's Jubilee field appears to be moving forward. Expro recently picked up a contract there, as did Sembcorp Marine's Jurong Shipyard subsidiary. That's a refreshing change from the snail's pace of progress in conflict-riddled Nigeria.