Even with crude oil prices setting records almost daily and natural gas prices firming nicely, it's a fact of life that oilfield services companies that bring in a big portion of their bacon from producing horizons in the U.S. can generate varying levels of sizzle.
Take BJ Services
Let's look at the two companies individually.
BJ Services results
BJ, which provides pressure pumping and other oilfield services, earned $127.3 million, or $0.43 a share, down about a third from its $188.9 million, or $0.64 per share, in the comparable quarter a year ago. At the same time, the company's revenue was up 8% to $1.28 billion.
Revenue from U.S. and Mexico pressure pumping services for the quarter was down 3% sequentially from the December 2007 quarter, but up 2% year over year. International pressure pumping revenue was up 17% over the same quarter a year earlier.
To focus somewhat more closely on BJ's pricing picture, let's turn to CEO Bill Stewart, who said, "Most of the price loss occurred in January as we completed a number of pricing agreements with our customers. I am, however, encouraged that pricing was relatively stable in February and March."
Smith International earnings
Results at Smith International, which is also based in Houston, included net income of $175 million, or $0.87 a share, up from $160.2 million, or $0.80 per share, for the same quarter of 2007. Revenue was 11% higher, at $2.37 billion.
Smith International produces a group of oilfield products and services through two segments. Included in those products and services are fluid systems, separation equipment, waste management services, chemicals, diamond bits, turbine products, and tubulars.
According to CEO Doug Rock, "Whereas we believe international growth will outpace North America for the new-term, the rapid emergence of unconventional gas plays could influence the pace of North American drilling going forward."
And CFO Margaret Dorman added, "Smith's Oilfield segment operating margins improved to 20.1% in the first quarter of 2008 -- 20 basis points above the prior year period and 60 basis points higher than the December 2007 quarter."
The list of oilfield services companies reporting their latest quarterly results continues to expand. Schlumberger
As to Smith and BJ, they're both sound companies. For now, however, with the latter's management anticipating another squishy quarter, I'd recommend that Fools limit their buy orders to Smith. The name itself should be worth an extra hundred shares.
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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does own shares in Baker Hughes, but alas, not in the other companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy that doesn't need pressure pumping.