Schlumberger Shows That Oilfield Services Is Where You Should Be

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It was a proverbial good day-bad day for Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB  ) on Friday.

To the good, the oilfield services giant chalked up revenue for the second quarter of the year of $9.62 billion, versus $5.94 billion for the second quarter of 2010. That, for those of you who are keeping tabs, amounts to a 62% year-over-year leap. Income from continuing operations sans charges was $1.34 billion, a 45% year-on-year improvement from $818 million. Earnings per share reached $0.98, compared with $0.68 for the same quarter in 2010. The company roundly beat the Wall Street consensus of $0.85 per share.

So what was the "bad day" impetus for the company? Quite simply, the retirement of Chief Executive Officer Andrew Gould removes the most informative voice of the oilfield services contingent quarter after quarter. It's typically been impossible to pay attention to Schlumberger's post-release call and not come away with a crystal-clear understanding of Schlumberger's particular circumstances, the macro descriptions of the industry's overall status, and the strengths and weaknesses of most of the industry's major operating venues.

Gould will be replaced by COO Paal Kibsgaard. We can only hope that Kibsgaard will develop his predecessor's penchant for imparting the macro and micro aspects of the industry with equal facility. Indeed, in what likely will be something of his swan song, Gould said on the quarter's call, "If you exclude the macroeconomic risks, I'm back to my theme of 'stronger for longer.'"

Factoring in the major geographic divisions, Gould noted that second-quarter results showed strength across the board. In North America, a prolonged Canadian spring breakup and poor weather in the Northwest were offset by strong growth in the rest of U.S. land, along with sound deepwater operations.

Internationally, the deepwater rig count continued to rise, as did exploration spending. Workover activity also expanded as part of an effort to offset the substantial reduction in Libyan output.

Looking individually at each of the company's operating segments, Oilfield Services' revenues were up year over year by 51%, the Reservoir Characterization Group rose by 7%, the Drilling Group jumped 127% from the year-ago period, and the Reservoir Production Group increased its revenues by 47% from a year ago.  

Schlumberger followed Halliburton (NYSE: HAL  ) in mounting the stage to report strong second-quarter results. The larger company was followed by Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI  ) with a good showing on Monday. Later in the week, Exxon Mobil (NYSE: XOM  ) and Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) will probably report strong results, especially in the upstream. All this reinforces my contention that energy is the place to be currently, with a slight nod to the services portion of the group.

You have been provided with an attractive opportunity to keep close tabs on Schlumberger, the biggest (and, many would argue, the best) of the services stocks. You only have to add the company's name to My Watchlist. I urge you not to miss this golden opportunity.   

Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Schlumberger and Chevron. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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