Oil services specialist Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) reported first quarter earnings that fell 30% year over year, missing the Capital IQ consensus estimates by $0.03 per share, even as revenues fell, despite coming in ahead of estimates. 

Baker Hughes recorded revenues of $5.23 billion in the quarter that ended March 31, a 2% decline over last year's $5.36 billion, but that was slightly ahead of Wall Street's estimates of $5.18 billion. On the bottom line, the oil services specialist generated $267 million, or $0.60 per share, down sharply by 30% from the year ago figure, and short of the $0.63 per share estimate.

The profit decline was driven largely by year-over-year declines in North America, Baker Hughes' largest market, but they actually represent an increase from the fourth quarter. In the segment, revenues were down by a third from the year ago period, but up almost 2% sequentially. Pre-tax profits in North America were down 41% from 2012, but up almost 6% from the December quarter.

Baker Hughes president and CEO Martin Craighead said: "Our first quarter results reflect improvement in our North America segment. The increased revenues and profit margins in North America are due to higher activity levels in Canada, along with improved utilization in our pressure pumping business despite a 3% decline in the U.S. onshore rig count since last quarter."

There have been five consecutive quarters of falling rig counts in the industry, but the oil services specialist sees that stabilizing, and is looking for modest increases for the rest of the year.

Baker Hughes employs more than 58,000 people in 80 countries supplying oilfield services, products, technology, and systems to the worldwide oil and natural gas industry.

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