The reported merger talks between Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) would create a single oil field services company with a market cap of more than $71 billion. That would still leave the combined company well behind Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), the market cap leader with a value of just over $122 billion.
The Wall Street Journal cites unnamed sources who say that talks between Halliburton and Baker Hughes are “moving quickly, and they could reach an agreement soon.” The report sparked a late afternoon burst in Baker Hughes stock, sending shares up 15.24% for the day after trading in the red for most of the day. According to the WSJ, Halliburton would be the acquirer.
How would a combined Halliburton-Baker Hughes stack up with Schlumberger? In 2012, the two companies posted combined net income of $3.97 billion and revenues of $49.86 billion, compared with Schlumberger’s net income total of $5.52 billion on revenues of $41.73 billion. For 2013, the combined companies reported net income of $3.24 billion on revenues of $51.76. Schlumberger posted net income of $6.77 billion on revenues of $45.27 billion for 2013.
A combined Halliburton-Baker Hughes would likely top Schlumberger’s revenues, but the combined company would have to make some big changes to match Schlumberger’s profitability. For example, cutting costs to wring more profit out of the revenue dollars. That’s where the magic word — synergies — comes in, and we could expect to see some sizeable cuts to headcounts. Halliburton reports 80,000 employees and Baker Hughes reports 61,100 for a total of 141,100. Schlumberger reports 123,000 employees. That offers some idea of where more profits will have to come from.
Schlumberger’s shares traded down 2.65% on Thursday to close at $94.85, in a 52-week range of $84.91 to $118.76.
Halliburton’s shares rose 1.05% to close at $53.79, in a 52-week range of $47.60 to $74.33.
And, as we noted, Baker Hughes closed at $58.75, up 15.24%, in a 52-week range of $47.51 to $75.64.