Schlumberger’s Q3 Earnings Cleared a Low Bar

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Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) reported third-quarter 2018 results before markets opened on Friday. The oil field services firm reported adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.46 on revenues of $8.5 billion. In the same period a year ago, Schlumberger reported adjusted EPS of $0.42 on revenues of $7.91 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.45 on revenues of $8.58 billion.

Analysts had lowered their targets for quarterly EPS and revenues over the course of the quarter, and Schlumberger managed only to clear the bar on earnings. The business will continue to face challenges in the fourth quarter, especially in North America.

Adjusted pretax net income in the quarter totaled $644 million, up from $581 million in the same period a year ago.

At the end of the second quarter, Schlumberger’s backlog totaled $1.65 billion in its Cameron OneSubsea segment and $523 million in the Cameron drilling systems segment. This represents no sequential change to the OneSubsea backlog and an added $41 million in the drilling systems backlog.

CEO Paal Kibsgaard remains optimistic about the company’s prospects for this year:

In North America, sequential growth remained positive [as revenues rose 2% sequentially] but slowed from the rates of previous quarters as takeaway constraints in the Permian impacted hydraulic fracturing activity. … Offshore North America, drilling activity was impacted by scheduled platform maintenance and planned workover operations, the combination of which led to a less favorable activity mix for Schlumberger. … In the International Areas, third-quarter revenue of $4.6 billion, excluding Cameron, grew 4% sequentially as we continued to see solid growth in all operating regions.

Kibsgaard continues to expect full deployment of the company’s international equipment by the end of the year, after which Schlumberger “anticipate[s] pricing discussions to accelerate in the coming quarters as the certainty of products and services supply will become more important for our customers.” In other words, Schlumberger expects to be able to raise prices beginning next year.

During the quarter, Schlumberger repurchased 1.5 million shares of common stock at an average price of $64.98 per share, for a total purchase price of $100 million.

Schlumberger said it expects to spend approximately $2 billion in 2018 on capital investment, similar to its level in each of the past two years. The company did not offer further guidance in its press release, but consensus estimates call for third-quarter EPS of $0.48 and revenues of $8.76 billion. For the full year, EPS is forecast at $1.77 on $33.48 billion in revenues.

Shares traded up about 1% in Friday’s premarket at $59.02. The stock’s 52-week range is $58.08 to $80.35. The low was posted Thursday. The 12-month consensus price target was $73.77 before results were announced.