Don't expect bells and whistles from the big energy companies when Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) leads off reporting season for the group on Monday -- usurping the position normally taken by Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB). With crude prices having plummeted from the bottle-rocket movement of a year ago, and a host of worldwide oil and gas projects now scuttled, it appears that there'll be hunks taken out of essentially all the energy companies' year-over-year comparisons.

Let's take a look at what's expected from a host of these companies -- using the order in which they're likely to report -- and then see where they each came in a year ago:


Estimated EPS

Year-Ago EPS







Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI)






ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP)



ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM)



Chevron (NYSE:CVX)



Source: Yahoo! Finance.

One of the elements I'll miss with the change of order is Schlumberger CEO Andrew Gould's typical first-up commentary on the status of traditional energy worldwide. Very few companies in any industry provide Gould's lucid overview of their sectors. As a damper, however, he likely will tell us that Schlumberger's earnings have fallen about 45% from the same year-ago quarter.

Among the integrated producers, otherwise fast-rising BP will lead off with what is anticipated to be a significant earnings decline. It'll be followed by ConocoPhillips, which almost certainly will shed even more from last year's results. The culprits for all of Big Oil's missing earnings are lower crude prices and severely crimped refining margins. Conoco will, however, benefit from about $192 million from its Lukoil investment.

ExxonMobil will then follow up, with earnings that are expected to be more than 50% below last year's results. However, the company's numbers are apt to induce less interest than its new biofuels venture, its planned pipeline from Alaska, its new Canadian gas discovery, and its most recent success -- or lack thereof -- in Brazil's deepwater Santos Basin. Lastly, Chevron is expected to finish the month by announcing about a two-thirds earnings slide from last year.

You can definitely see a trend here: This won't be a pretty quarter for the big oil companies. But therein may lie an opportunity: The effects of the poor numbers almost certainly are already baked into the company's share prices. If you have a reasonable time horizon, you might nibble away at one or two of the names above. My favorite, for a variety of reasons, remains ExxonMobil.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions and comments. The Fool has a drop-dead gorgeous disclosure policy.