Oil and gas solutions provider Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB) should be pleased with its performance in 2014. Its last earnings report was filled with good news, and the company put up solid growth in revenue and profit from continuing operations over the first half of the year. Not surprisingly, the stock has followed suit: Schlumberger's share price has risen approximately 16% since the beginning of 2014.
Management had a lot of good things to say when it discussed the company's second-quarter performance in its conference call with analysts. Here are five things Schlumberger management wants you to know. All quotes are from CEO Paal Kibsgaard.
Strong financial performance in 2014
"Our second-quarter results were strong and fully in line with our expectations."
Schlumberger reported 8% revenue growth and 15% growth in pre-tax operating profit last quarter, year over year. Year to date, revenue and pre-tax operating profits were up 7% and 18%, respectively. All areas and all groups of the company reported growth last quarter, which management attributed to superb execution and client service, as well as the penetration of new technologies.
Schlumberger produced growth across its geographic areas of focus. In North America, the company saw growth on land and in offshore Gulf of Mexico operations. It also experienced rebounding activity in international markets such as Russia, Norway, and Australia.
In all, international revenue increased 7% year over year. Specifically, revenue increased 12% in the Middle East and Asia, driven by Saudi Arabia, where the company is seeing robust activity in new well drilling and expanding rig counts.
Schlumberger is a best-in-breed company
"Our latest technology and our best-in-class service quality continue to carry a premium"
Pricing of Schlumberger's services has been a concern for management this year, particularly in the international markets where the environment is fiercely competitive. However, management remains very confident because price inflections have not occurred, and this is reflected in the company's resilient margins. Indeed, pre-tax operating margin improved by 67 basis points last quarter versus the previous quarter. This is very important for the company, to keep margins intact, even if adverse events occur. Demand for Schlumberger's services are expected to remain strong for the rest of the year.
Onshore gas development is a tailwind
"We continue to grow our market share online in hydraulic fracturing."
Schlumberger is rapidly expanding its onshore business, thanks to a leading industry position in technology services. One premier area of oil and gas technology today is hydraulic fracturing. Schlumberger grew year-over-year revenue in North America by 15% last quarter, thanks to strong growth in hydraulic fracturing. The company is aggressively investing in this area; that weighed on margins last quarter, but management is confident this will pave the way for significant growth for many years.
Schlumberger's success will flow to shareholders
"The strength of our cash flow will enable us to further invest in the business while increasing the cash we returned to our shareholders."
Schlumberger is committed to investing in its business, as well as increasing cash returns to shareholders. Accomplishing these simultaneously is a difficult task for any company, but Schlumberger is confident it has the financial strength to meet its targets. That's because the company generated $1.9 billion of free cash flow over the first half of the year, which represented excellent 35% year-over-year growth.
Management remains modest
"We continue to see a relatively constant mix of headwinds and tailwinds in the global economy and in our industry."
Despite its success, management acknowledged that there are headwinds impacting its business. Schlumberger noted that the global economic recovery remains on track, but is slow. In addition, rising geopolitical tensions are provoking supply uncertainties. Brent crude oil prices are holding steady above $100 per barrel for the time being, but if prices fall significantly below that, it could discourage oil-related investments across the globe. That being said, management maintained its forecast for modest growth this year.
Schlumberger is putting up solid growth in key metrics such as revenue and pre-tax operating profit, thanks to its industry-leading position in the solutions and services it provides. Growth came in strong over the first half of the year, and management is equally confident about its prospects for the remainder of 2014.
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