Energy's earnings season has swung into full gear, and Schlumberger
For the quarter, the company recorded earnings from continuing operations of $817 million, a 34% decline from the same quarter a year ago, but up 4% from the sequentially prior quarter. Similarly, on a per-share basis, earnings were $0.67 in the most recent quarter, up two pennies from the prior quarter, but down from $1.03, excluding charges, a year ago. Revenue for the quarter was $5.74 billion and also followed the pattern of being up slightly quarter-on-quarter but down 16% vs. Q4 2008.
As you likely realize, Schlumberger operates through two units. Its Oilfield Services group reported revenues that slid 17% year-on-year. However, WesternGeco, which is primarily a seismic segment and accounts for only about 10% of the company's total revenues, brought in a strong quarter. With solid sales relating to the Gulf of Mexico, the unit improved its top-line contribution by 19% from the prior quarter, and its pre-tax operating income 30% year-on-year.
It's always good to have Schlumberger lead off the services portion of the energy sector and be followed by the likes of Halliburton
On Schlumberger's press release he noted:
Consensus forecasts predict that oil demand in 2010 will increase, particularly in the developing world ... As a result, we feel that oil prices are likely to be sustained at current levels and that as our customers' confidence grows, their exploration and production budgets will increase. We feel that considerable leverage to increase investment exists in offshore markets, in Russia, as well as in certain emerging opportunities such as Iraq.
However, Mr. Gould took a cautious stance on natural gas, referring to the market as "generally oversupplied." He also noted that the "general uncertainty over the decline rates of unconventional gas production" could negatively affect the domestic rig count. I'm not alone in my long-term bullish call for natural gas, thanks to ExxonMobil's
Although I recognize that shares traded down on the earnings news, my feeling about Schlumberger is that, given the global energy picture, the company currently represents a far better buy than it does a sell. As such, I recommend that Fools keep an eye on the company. It stands to benefit from increasing global demand for oil.
Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. The Fool owns shares of XTO Energy. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. The Motley Fool has an impenetrable disclosure policy.