By most measures, the numbers for oilfield services group leader Schlumberger
Schlumberger's net income for the quarter hit $1.53 billion, a 13% increase from last year's $1.35 billion. The EPS line came in at $1.25, up from $1.09 in the third quarter of 2007. Indeed, had two blowhard blokes named Gustav and Ike avoided the Gulf of Mexico in the third quarter, the most recent per-share line would have been four pennies higher. Revenues for the quarter were up about 22%.
Despite being the leader in both size and technology in an industry that can be somewhat confusing, Schlumberger, and hence its earnings breakdowns, are relatively easy to fathom. In the most recent quarter, for instance, oilfield services, the larger of its two operating units, contributed a revenue increase of 24%, while its WesternGeco segment, which is largely devoted to the seismic area, saw its revenue rise by 12%.
But clearly of more importance, for those who regularly await Gould's analysis of industry conditions, was his cautionary glance at the fourth quarter. He expects "the recent rapid deterioration in credit markets" to have an effect on his company's forward results. By his reckoning, the most significant effects will occur in North America and in some emerging markets. But beyond that, he said, it remains too soon to predict the degree to which current events will lap over into 2009.
With Gould's less than ebullient take on the global energy picture, there'll be that much more to be gained from Monday's results from Halliburton
With Schlumberger's shares having been cut in half just since July, it's likely that there are some values being created in the oil patch. But perhaps you've also heard the adage about catching a falling knife. Until it becomes apparent that that proverbial knife -- in the form of oil and gas prices -- has clanged to the ground, I'd be circumspect about grabbing any descending oilfield blades.