What National Oilwell Varco’s Revenue Warning Means

April 16, 2018 by Paul Ausick

On Friday, shares of National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV) posted a new 52-week high. Monday morning the company warned that first-quarter revenues are expected to come in at around $1.8 billion.

On its fourth-quarter conference call in January, the company said it expected “modest” improvements in most of its businesses and sequential top-line growth of 2% to 3%, along with a 100 basis point improvement in margin.

Based on fourth-quarter revenues of $1.97 billion, that would have resulted in first-quarter revenues of $2.01 to $2.03 billion.

In its statement Monday morning, National Oilwell Varco attributed the revenue shortfall to “reduced progress in new offshore rig construction” and customer delays in deliveries. The company also noted lower sequential shipments of subsea production equipment.

CEO Clay Williams said:

Following an unusually protracted 2018 budgeting cycle, we’ve seen certain customers defer deliveries for existing capital equipment orders into the second quarter and delay making new order commitments until late into the first quarter. Unfortunately, all three segments will report sequentially lower revenues and, on a consolidated basis, we expect to report a GAAP operating loss of approximately $1 million and Adjusted EBITDA of approximately $160 million.

Williams also noted that industry fundamentals continue to improve and that National Oilwell Varco expects business to improve in the rest of the year.

The low-price regime of the past few years has hit oilfield services firms like National Oilwell Varco especially hard. On Friday we’ll get first-quarter results from Baker Hughes, a GE Company (NYSE: BHGE) and Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), for both of which analysts are estimating sequentially lower revenues.

Schlumberger reported fourth-quarter 2017 revenues of $8.18 billion, and the consensus estimate for the first-quarter calls for revenues of $7.81 billion, a dip of 4.5%. Baker Hughes reported fourth-quarter revenues of $5.76 billion and is forecast to post $5.42 billion for the first quarter, down 5.9% sequentially.

It could be that National Oilwell Varco was just a bit too optimistic about its first-quarter sales. The latest analyst estimates call for revenues of $1.95 billion, down 1% sequentially. Year over year, revenues would be up 3.4% if the company hits its new estimate of $1.8 billion in sales.

National Oilwell Varco shares were pummeled early Monday, down more than 5% to $38.46, in a 52-week range of $29.90 to $41.38. The 12-month consensus price target on the stock was $35.84 before this morning’s announcement. The company reports first-quarter results on April 26 after the markets close.

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