The services side of the energy industry has become a good news-bad news situation as of late.
As we move into the second half of April, companies will clear their throats -- or at least their human representative will -- before telling us about their results for the March quarter. For the past several quarters, Schlumberger
This quarter Halliburton will be first up, reporting on Monday, April 18th. It appears that a combination of inclement weather in North America and Australia likely will lop between $0.05 and $0.08 from the company's first quarter results. In addition, we should expect that the unrest that has crept across the Middle East and North Africa (which folks are beginning to refer to as MENA) will take away another $0.03 to $0.04.
The following Thursday -- the 21st -- both Schlumberger and Weatherford
Weatherford, which has become the master of one-time items, also is contending with having bungled tax allocations among its subsidiaries, which will necessitate restatements. Bringing up the rear among the bigger services companies will be Baker Hughes
Having said all that, there really is good news that should soon obviate the quarter's hurdles. It seems that Saudi Arabia is picking up the pace on its Manifa heavy oil project, for which Halliburton holds the offshore portion of the contract. It thereby will provide directional drilling, cementing, and logging for 93 Persian Gulf wells. While Halliburton will be the primary beneficiary of the change, the likes of Schlumberger, Baker Hughes, Weatherford, Nabors Industries
In addition, it appears that the Saudis have decided to increase the country's overall rig count to 118 units, from the current 92, a 30% boost. Almost certainly the changes in the kingdom are being undertaken as an offset to the effects of Libya's production from the battling occurring in that country.
Notice that all of the companies I have mentioned are on the services side of energy. That, to my way of thinking, makes service companies the industry's best bet for Foolish attention, at least for now. We can help you keep tabs on your companies with MyWatchlist.com, our free, personalized stock-tracking service.
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The Fool owns shares of Schlumberger. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.
We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith does not own shares in any of the companies named in the above article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.