Oil field services firm Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) this morning announced that it is cutting its first quarter 2012 operating profit before tax margins in both its US and international operations. The company attributes the reduction to “rapidly changing market conditions in the Pressure Pumping product line in North America and seasonality in all international markets.”
The announcement is likely to affect share prices for Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL), and the other services companies. Baker Hughes’ Pressure Pumping division is suffering from a downturn in production of shale gas as producers focus more on extracting higher-priced liquids.
The company’s cuts are significant:
Overall, the company expects North America operating profit before tax margin(1) for the first quarter of 2012 to be between 13.2% and 14.2% compared to 18.7% in the fourth quarter of 2011.
The operating profit before tax margin(1) outlook for international operations for the first quarter of 2012 is expected to be between 12.2% and 13.2% compared to 15.6% in the fourth quarter of 2011 due to seasonality of product sales, weather, geographic mix, and project delays in Latin America.
The company did not provide an EPS estimate. Baker Hughes will report results for its first quarter on April 24th.