October 23, 2012
With Halliburton (NYSE: HAL ) already having released sour earnings two days prior, investors were cautious heading into Friday's releases by Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB ) and Baker Hughes International (NYSE: BHI ) . Halliburton had already cited slowdowns in the North American land rig market, as production at gas wells was cut back or switched over to liquid production in response to the natural-gas supply glut at domestic terminals. Fortunately for Schlumberger, it only received 30% of its 2011 revenues from the North American market.
This internationally skewed business model served Schlumberger well in the third quarter of 2012 as it released positive results, while two of its direct peers couldn't muster year-over-year growth. Growing profits at 9.5% year over year appears to be a grand accomplishment, seeing as Halliburton's earnings fell 12% and Baker Hughes' plummeted 60% as management saw its operating margin get slashed in half due to pricing pressures. The fact that Schlumberger's revenues from the Middle East and Asia grew around 7% was certainly a contributing factor, and company management foresees continued growth overseas for the remainder of the year. Its continued expectation is for over 10% growth internationally for the full 2012 reporting period.
Moving forward, Schlumberger is still cautious about land operations in North America but is very bullish on activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Expectations are that activity will reach levels not seen since the Deepwater Horizon disaster by the end of 2012.
The remaining large service provider, Weatherford International (NYSE: WFT ) , will be reporting earnings on Nov. 13. It will be interesting to see which direction the results swung in this past quarter, with only 1 out of 3 of its direct peers providing shareholders with positive earnings growth.
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