Although we don't believe in timing the market or panicking over market movements, we do like to keep an eye on big changes -- just in case they're material to our investing thesis.
What: Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc (NYSE:HLX) stock surged double digits when the market opened this morning. This was after the offshore energy services company reported first quarter earnings that were stronger than expected.
So what: Helix reported revenue of $189.6 million, which was down 25.2% from last year's first quarter and about $9 million less than analysts were expecting. However, earnings were much stronger than expected as the company earned $19.6 million, or $0.19 per share. While that was well off of the $53.7 million, or $0.51 per share, it earned in last year's first quarter earnings did trounce estimates by $0.12 per share and grew from the $0.08 per share Helix earned just last quarter.
In commenting on the quarter CEO Owen Kratz said that, "the company managed to post a respectable first quarter despite poor industry conditions." This was largely due to a big drop in SG&A costs, which fell to 6.7% of revenue. That's down from 11.1% of revenue last quarter, and 8% of revenue in the first quarter of 2013. In addition to that, the company reported that it was awarded a three-year extension for the Q4000 and is seeing continual improvement in the visibility of its Robotics charted vessel fleet.
Now what: Helix clearly responded to the weak oil market by cutting its costs, which had a noticeable impact on its bottom line. Further, the company has a bit more visibility into the future, which has investors breathing a sign of relief. What it needs now is an improvement in oil and gas activity, which will only come as energy prices improve.