Cost-cutting and price-cutting have been the major trends in the oil field services sector for at least the past year. It is hard to know which is the chicken and which the egg, but competition in North America for pressure pumping services has forced companies to cut prices and the falling number of wells, particularly natural gas wells, has forced the companies to reduce costs.
The situation may be changing however as a result of higher prices for crude oil and a potential windfall should Mexico end the 70-year stranglehold that state-owned oil company Pemex has on that country’s oil and gas development and production.
Another important trend in the services sector is drilling multiple wells from the same pad. This means less time setting up and breaking down the drilling rigs and more time drilling wells. The trend in North American rig counts has been down slightly. There are 53 fewer rigs in operation now than there were at the same time a year ago. But there were nearly 300 more North American wells drilled in the second quarter of this year, and the total well count is now more than 8,800.
We have taken a look at five services companies with an eye toward spotting a value play in the sector. The companies included here are Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL), Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV) and Ensco PLC (NYSE: ESV).
Schlumberger is the world’s largest oil field services company, with a market cap of around $115 billion. The company’s shares closed at $86.60 on Tuesday night and are trading around a new 52-week high of $87.10 set Wednesday morning. The 52-week low is $66.85. The consensus price target according to Thomson Reuters is $97.25, and Schlumberger pays a dividend yield of 1.5%. The implied upside on the stock is about 12%.
Halliburton has a market cap of nearly $45 billion. Shares closed at $50.32 Tuesday night and are trading around $49.90, in a 52-week range of $29.83 to $50.50. The consensus price target on the stock is around $57.00, and the implied upside is around 14%. The company pays a dividend yield of 1.0%.
National Oilwell Varco has a market cap of around $34 billion. Shares closed Tuesday night at $78.37 and are trading around $78.40, in a 52-week range of $63.08 to $89.95. The consensus price target is around $83.75, and the implied upside is about 7%. The company pays a 1.3% dividend yield.
Baker Hughes has a market cap of about $22 billion. Shares closed Tuesday night at $50.22 and are trading around $50.00, in a 52-week range of $39.44 to $50.97. The consensus price target is $54, and the implied upside is 8%. Baker Hughes’s dividend yield is 1.2%.
Ensco is a contract offshore drilling company based in the United Kingdom with a market cap of around $13 billion. Shares closed at $57.05 Tuesday night and were trading flat Wednesday morning, in a 52-week range of $51.01 to $65.82. The consensus price target for the stock is around $66.50, and the implied gain is nearly 17%. Ensco’s dividend yield is 1.2%.
Over the past year, Halliburton’s shares are up about 40%, more than any of the others. Schlumberger stock is up more than 17%, and Baker Hughes shares are up about 5%. National Oilwell Varco and Ensco are posting losses for the 12-month period.
Over the past six months, National Oilwell Varco shares are up about 15%, second only to the 17% boost to Halliburton. National Oilwell Varco has been the value play in this sector since the beginning of the year, and that has paid off with a share price gain of about 25%. But Halliburton’s gain over the same period is about 42%.
Schlumberger, Halliburton and National Oilwell Varco remain viable value plays as increases in pad drilling help offset lower prices and lower rig counts. Baker Hughes is closer to being fully valued, and Ensco’s implied gain, while not way out of line, is a riskier play because the company has so much of its effort tied up in (expensive) deepwater drilling.