Oil Service Giants End With a Whimper

As you probably recall, Halliburton (NYSE: HAL  ) started off the oilfield services portion of earnings season with results that, quite frankly, blew the roof off last year's results and analyst expectations. Unfortunately, the results that followed became increasingly less spectacular. Weatherford (NYSE: WFT  ) was stronger than expected, but then Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB  ) , the industry's 800-pound gorilla, recounted a so-so quarter.

Which brings us to Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI  ) , which closed out the season for the big players in the sector. Let's be polite and call Baker Hughes' results and guidance a tad on the weak side. The market was not so polite and knocked 13% off the company's share price.

For all these companies, the third quarter is likely to be even more unpredictable, with North American land continuing to surprise on the upside, while the Gulf of Mexico ... well, who knows?

For the quarter, Baker Hughes recorded net income of $93 million, or $0.23 per share, versus income of $87 million, or $0.28 per share, for the second quarter of 2009. Results for the most recent quarter included a contribution from BJ Services for May and June, which Baker acquired during the quarter. Also included were acquisition-related costs of $56 million pre-tax, or $0.13 per share.

While I'm not inclined to bathe my Foolish friends in numbers -- although Chief Financial Officer Peter Ragauss called the quarter "very complicated" -- the BJ Services transaction included $196 million of added goodwill, and Baker Hughes issued 118 million shares of common stock to BJ Services shareholders (27.6% of the company) to complete the acquisition.

As CEO Chad Deaton noted on the company's analysts call, "Following up on two pretty decent quarters ... results this quarter (were) mixed. On a positive side, operationally, we performed better than expected in North America, Russia, and Asia Pacific, where we made some significant improvements sequentially."

On the other side of the coin, he called Africa a "particularly difficult challenge for us right now," noting Libya, Algeria, and Nigeria as sticky spots. He also said that, "As for Latin America, we're disappointed with the progress we've made in Mexico," but lauded the strength of Brazil.

As to the BP (NYSE: BP  ) and Transocean (NYSE: RIG  ) tragedy in the Gulf, he said, "A loss of life, the oil spill, and the drilling moratorium will test all of us here in the Gulf coast." For Baker Hughes, he predicted an impact of $0.08 to $0.11 per share in each of the next two quarters. 

Baker Hughes' results weren't well received, with the company finishing last in the S&P 500 on Tuesday. Therefore, while the services group clearly will be important to the strength of the energy sector going forward, I'd tuck away shares of Halliburton and Schlumberger -- in that order.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. He welcomes your comments or questions. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy


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