Shares of oil-services company Baker Hughes, a GE Company (NYSE:BHGE) fell 5% in August, the first full month since the company's official takeover by General Electric (NYSE:GE). While that sounds disappointing, it was a better performance than its peers put in: Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) was down 8%, and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) fell 8.2%.
All three companies fared better than the oil-field services industry at large, which -- as measured by the SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Equipment & Services ETF -- was down 10.5% for the month.
GE completed the merger of its oil and gas division with Baker Hughes on July 3, creating Baker Hughes, a GE Company -- or, as the companies previously referred to it, "the new Baker Hughes." So far, the new Baker Hughes and GE haven't put out a combined quarterly report, though, so we don't exactly know how well -- if at all -- the anticipated synergies of the two businesses are affecting earnings. The new Baker Hughes reported middling earnings on July 31, causing the stock to drop by about 4%. So keep in mind that the 5% drop in August is on top of a 4% drop at the end of July.
Schlumberger and Halliburton, meanwhile, also reported Q2 earnings in late July. Both companies had to write down promissory notes from Venezuelan customers: Halliburton for $201 million and Schlumberger to the tune of $500 million. Even with the writedown, Halliburton -- which has more North American exposure than its European rival -- posted a small quarterly profit as North American sales growth outpaced international sales growth. Schlumberger, on the other hand, reported a small quarterly loss for the same reasons.
But mostly, all three companies' fortunes for the month moved in tandem with the price of WTI crude. They dropped in the first half of the month and then languished for the latter part of August.
The companies' performance in August shouldn't come as any great surprise, and if you factor in the new Baker Hughes' price drop on the last day of July, all three companies' stocks performed almost identically for the month. Nothing here should affect your investment thesis.
Unless oil prices see a substantial uptick, these companies' fortunes probably won't, either. The possible exception is the new Baker Hughes, which may even now be benefiting from the synergy with its new partner, GE. But there's know way to know until they release a combined quarterly report, at which point the cat will be out of the bag. Staying the course seems the prudent move for now.
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