Why Halliburton Earnings Beat Is Less Than Meets the Eye

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Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) reported third-quarter 2015 results before markets opened Monday. The oil and gas services company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.31 on revenues of $5.58 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $1.19 on revenues of $8.7 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.27 and $5.64 billion in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, the firm posted net loss of $54 million ($0.06 per share), compared with net income of $1.2 billion ($1.42 per share) in the third quarter of 2014. In the quarter, Halliburton took asset impairment charges and severance costs of $257 million and added $62 million in costs related to its merger with Baker Hughes. Total impairment and adjustment charges were $381 million, compared with $306 million in the same quarter last year. Adjusted operating income totaled $506 million, compared with $1.42 billion in the third quarter of 2014 and $643 million in the second quarter of this year.

The company did not provide guidance in its earnings release, but the fourth-quarter consensus estimates call for $0.26 EPS on revenues of $5.54 billion. For the full year, EPS is estimated at $1.47 on revenues of $24.17 billion.

In the third quarter, North American revenue declined by about 47% year over year, and operating income declined from $765 million to a net loss of $49 million.

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The company’s CEO said:

This is a challenging market, but our strategy remains the same. We are looking through this cycle to ensure that we are positioned to accelerate our growth when the industry recovers … As we continue to work toward the closing of the pending Baker Hughes acquisition, we are diligently focused on finalizing all regulatory filings, completing the divestiture process, and preparing for integration activities after the closing of the deal. We are enthusiastic about and fully committed to closing this compelling transaction, and remain confident we can achieve annual cost synergies of nearly $2 billion. … There are a number of moving parts in the market today, and we are not going to try to call the exact shape of recovery, but we expect that the longer it takes, the sharper it will be. Ultimately, when this market recovers we believe North America will respond the quickest and offer the greatest upside, and that Halliburton will be positioned to outperform.

Like competitor Schlumberger, Halliburton cannot see the end of the current downturn, but it believes that the longer it takes to get there, the steeper the rise in crude prices will be and that will be good news for the services industry. Realistically, what else can they say?

Halliburton’s stock closed at $37.81 on Friday, down about 3.7% for the day. Shares were inactive in Monday’s premarket. The stock’s 52-week trading range is $30.93 to $58.00. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $47.04 before this report.

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