EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE:EOG) is on deck to report its second-quarter results later this week. The shale leader is a key company for investors to watch as it has taken one of the most conservative approaches to the downturn by choosing not to grow its production. Because of that, all eyes will be on the company's results and what it expects to do in the future.
1. Its results vs. the expectations
Last quarter was a tough one for EOG Resources -- its adjusted net income slumped to just $16.8 million, or $0.03 per share, which is a huge drop from the $767.7 million, or $1.40 per share, it earned in the first quarter of 2014. Still, it was better than analysts' breakeven estimates as its results were buoyed by stronger-than-expected production and solid cost reductions.
This quarter, analysts expect a slightly better result as they predict the company will earn about $0.10 per share. That said, given that most other oil companies have beaten analysts' estimates this quarter, there's an assumption that EOG Resources can do the same. Investors will need to focus on the company's production and costs as both need to improve in order for it to beat expectations again.
2. Any further reductions to 2015 capex
EOG Resources' plan this year was to cut its capex by 40% over last year's level and only complete enough wells to maintain flat year-over-year production. It was a pretty bold plan given the fact that nearly every other oil company still plans to grow production in 2015. That being said, it's a plan that has turned out to be a smart one given the fact that oil remained weak this year, recently plunging 20% from its 2015 peak.
That slump, along with price reductions being offered by oil-field service companies, is leading several oil producers to now trim a bit more off their 2015 capex plans. Because of that, investors should look to see if EOG Resources makes any changes to its capex budget or its production profile.
3. Any signs that the floodgates will remain closed
Last quarter, EOG Resources said that 2015 production will be "U" shaped with second- and third- quarter production being the low point before the company ramps up in the fourth quarter. That fourth-quarter ramp-up would then serve as a spring board heading into 2016, when it was prepared to resume strong double-digit production growth. That said, the resumption of growth came with the caveat that the oil price would recover and stabilize at the $65-per-barrel level.
After last month's 20% plunge, which has continued into August, oil is now at around $45 per barrel. This suggests that EOG Resources might not only delay its resumption of production growth next year but its projected production ramp in the fourth quarter. As such, investors should keep an eye on what the company plans to do as well as its expectation for oil prices in the future.
While EOG Resources second-quarter results will be much weaker than last year's, it is expected to still manage to beat analysts' estimates. To do so, the company will need to keep a lid on operating costs as well as, hopefully, capture some pricing concessions from oil-field service companies on capex. So despite the potential for cost reductions, there's growing uncertainty as to when the company will resume growth, given the drop in the oil price over the past month, so investors should keep an eye on any changes to EOG Resources' longer-term plans.
Matt DiLallo and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.