Leading oilfield services companies Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI) and Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) are both scheduled to report their fourth-quarter results Tuesday before the U.S. markets open. This comes in the wake of last week’s report from larger rival Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), which included better than expected earnings, though revenue fell short of consensus estimates. The company cited such headwinds as plunging oil prices and sanctions in Russia.
For Baker Hughes, Thomson Reuters has consensus estimates of $1.07 in earnings per share (EPS) and $6.41 billion in revenue. In the fourth quarter of the previous year, it posted EPS of $0.62 on $5.68 billion in revenue. The forecast for Halliburton calls for earnings to have increased from $0.93 per share a year ago to $1.10 in the fourth quarter. Revenue is expected to have grown almost 15% to $8.78 billion.
Note that these companies are poised to merge later in the year in order to better compete with Schlumberger. When they complete the proposed merger, they still will be only the second largest services company in the world, but the merger should improve their position, even if together they are only a little more than one-half the size of the largest firm.
In our outlook for oilfield services players for 2015, we pointed out that stocks of these companies fell along with oil prices, even though Halliburton and Schlumberger hit all-time highs back in July, as shares retreated at drillers and others in the oil patch in recent months. The decline in the number of operating rigs had only just started then and has increased since, according to data from Baker Hughes. The impact of the plunge in oil prices has begun to be felt in Houston, home to all three of these companies, where rumors of layoffs have arisen.
Short interest in Halliburton surged after the merger announcement, and at 29.75 million shares as of the end of the year is still near the peak for the past 52-weeks. The number of shares short in Baker Hughes, though, has fallen since November to less than 5 million, or about half what it was at the end of last January.
Recently, Barclays analysts imitated coverage of both Baker Hughes and Halliburton with Overweight ratings. Back in December, RBC Capital Markets raised both of them to Outperform from Sector Perform, though a firm called Global Hunter Securities downgraded both stocks to Neutral.
Shares of both Baker Hughes and Halliburton got a boost of more than 4.5% on Friday, to close at $56.56 and $39.13, respectively. That put them both back in the same neighborhood as at the beginning of the year.
Baker Hughes has a consensus analyst price target of $69.87 and a 52-week trading range of $47.51 to $75.64. The market cap is about $24.5 billion, and the dividend yield is near 1.2%.
The consensus price target for Halliburton is $49.33, and shares have traded between $37.21 and $74.33 in the past year. It has a market cap of about $33 billion and a dividend yield around 1.9%.