Energy Business

Schlumberger Earnings Bolstered by New $10 Billion Buyback Program

Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 results after markets closed on Thursday. The oil field services firm reported adjusted diluted quarterly earnings per share (EPS) of $0.65 on revenues of $7.74 billion. In the same period a year ago, Schlumberger reported EPS of $1.50 on revenues of $12.94 billion. Fourth-quarter results compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.63 on revenues of $7.8 billion.

For the full year Schlumberger posted EPS of $3.37 on revenues of $35.48 billion compared with year-ago EPS of $5.57 and revenues of $48.58 billion. Analysts were looking for EPS of $3.34 on revenues of $35.6 billion.

Schlumberger  cut another 10,000 jobs in the fourth quarter and incurred charges of $530 million associated with the job cuts and incentive leave of absence program.

Revenue dropped 39% year-over-year in the fourth quarter driven by a continuing decline in rig activity and persistent pricing pressure throughout global operations that also suffered from activity disruptions and project delays and cancellations.

The US land rig count declined by 15% and customer E&P budgets were exhausted. International revenue declined 6% due to the combination of customer budget cuts, the start of the seasonal winter slowdown, persistent pricing pressure, and the largely muted year-end product, software, and multiclient seismic license sales.

CEO Paal Kibsgaard said:

Full-year Schlumberger pretax operating income declined 38%, with pretax operating margin contracting 342 basis points to 18.4%. North America margin declined 874 basis points to 10.2% on decreased pressure pumping activity and pricing weakness on land. International margin was essentially flat with 2014 at 23.6% despite the revenue decline from pricing concessions, and from an increasingly unfavorable shift in revenue mix from offshore exploration to development. While revenues in North America and in the International Areas have declined by 39% and 21%, respectively, decremental operating margins have been limited to 32% in North America, and 25% internationally. These figures are substantially better than those we delivered in the 2009 downturn.

The company’s operating margin slipped by more than 6 percentage points compared with the third quarter of 2014. Pre-tax operating margin in the quarter came to 16.6%, down from 18% sequentially.

Schlumberger expects capex in 2016 to total about $2.4 billion, identical with 2015 spending. The company’s board approved a new $10 billion repurchase program. During the fourth quarter Schlumberger purchased 5.4 million shares of stock at an average price of $73.86 per share for a total cost of $398 million.

The company did not provide additional guidance in its press release, saying it would provide information in a conference call Friday morning. The consensus estimates for the first quarter call for EPS of $0.554 on revenues of $7.4 billion. For the full year, EPS is pegged at $2.41 on revenues of $31.07 billion.

Shares traded higher by about 2.3% in after-hours trading at $62.85 after closing at $61.45. The stock’s 52-week range is $59.60 to $95.13. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of $86.28 before today’s results were announced.