OPEC's members have spoken, and the world's crude oil traders have responded. Unfortunately for shareholders of Schlumberger
I frankly don't recall another instance of a company nearly doubling its year-over-year earnings, which was precisely what Schlumberger did in the third quarter, only to have the market shave more than 4% from its valuation the very day of its announcement. But with crude prices plummeting $1.68 on Friday, immediately after the OPEC cartel announced a 1.2 million barrels-per-day reduction in output, not even the largest participant in the energy services sector was able to escape unscathed.
Nevertheless, I would classify Schlumberger's performance solidly in the impressive category. Revenues reached $4.95 billion in the quarter, up 32% from the same quarter a year ago. Net income was $1 billion, or $0.81, versus $541 million, $0.44.
In addition to its sheer size, Schlumberger is also the most technologically advanced of the service companies, owing at least in part to its expenditures -- more than $500 million last year alone -- on research and development. But despite perceptions of a difficult-to-comprehend array of products and services, Schlumberger's operations are divided into just two units.
Schlumberger Oilfield Services provides technology, project management, and data assistance to the full range of oil and gas producers, from ExxonMobil
In addition to the drop in crude prices, a cautionary comment from Schlumberger management probably contributed to the company's disappointing price performance on Friday. That comment was to the effect that, depending upon the sort of winter weather our continent experiences, high current levels of natural gas storage in North America could curtail production activities and result in equipment excesses.
But that possibility, it seems to me, is always a concern in late October. I believe that the larger worldwide perspective involves an ongoing need to replace and develop crude oil reserves. It's a need that clearly was important to Schlumberger's most recent quarter. It also renders a number of other service industry participants worth monitoring, including Halliburton
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