Energy Business

Why So-So Baker Hughes Earnings Are Pushing Oilfield Services Stocks Higher

Baker Hughes Co. (NYSE: BKR) reported first-quarter 2020 results before markets opened Wednesday morning. The oilfield services company reported adjusted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.11 on revenues of $5.43 billion. In the same period a year ago, GE reported adjusted EPS of $0.15 on revenues of $5.62 billion. First-quarter results also compare to the consensus estimates for EPS of $0.11 on revenues of $5.63 billion.

On a GAAP basis, Baker Hughes posted an operating loss of $16.06 billion, mainly related to asset impairments, restructuring and separation-related charges. Adjusted operating income totaled $240 million. The company attributed approximately $100 million of the operating loss to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The company did not offer guidance, but analysts are expecting second-quarter earnings per share of $0.06 on revenues of $5.21 billion. For the full year, the consensus estimates call for $0.37 in EPS and $21.64 billion in revenues.

CEO Lorenzo Simonelli commented:

 Looking forward, the outlook for oil and gas demand and supply appears equally uncertain, and it will largely be driven by the pace of economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and the supply response that ultimately materializes. … [We are] reducing capital expenditures by more than 20% versus 2019, executing a restructuring plan to right size our operations for anticipated activity levels and market conditions, as well as continuing to deliver on our portfolio evolution strategy. While accelerated, these actions are in line with broader changes that we outlined previously to improve margins and operating efficiency.

Oddly, perhaps, competitor Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) is benefiting most from Baker Hughes’s quarterly report. Halliburton’s stock was up nearly 11% at $8.27 just before noon Wednesday, while Baker Hughes stock traded up about 2% at $13.02. Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) traded up nearly 6% at $15.53.

Schlumberger, which just cut its dividend by 75%, still pays a yield of 3.27%, while Halliburton’s yield is a lofty 9.65% and Baker Hughes pays 5.5%. Baker Hughes did not say anything about slicing its dividend, so investors are quite satisfied with the results and with the reinforcement those results give to the other companies’ dividends.

A small part of Wednesday’s share price increase among the oilfield services companies may be due to a 25% jump in the June delivery price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil. After two days that saw front-month oil traded at never-before-imagined levels, the front-month contract remains below $20 a barrel with little chance of breaking through that barrier until later this month when (or if) production cuts already promised by OPEC+ take effect.

Even though some U.S.-based exploration and production companies have hedges in place that protect prices, no U.S. shale driller is expecting to rev up a drilling program any time soon. Services companies like Baker Hughes and its competitors will be judged to have done an outstanding job if they can keep the losses under control until pricing recovers.

Still, this time the recovery may not reach the levels of previous cyclical market movements. Demand for crude is being destroyed by the combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and a seemingly unstoppable market glut. The oversupply may be as high as 30% (30 million barrels) of daily global production.

While electric cars may pose no immediate threat to gasoline-burning vehicles, future electric vehicles will be getting more widely available and cheaper while gasoline prices will be increasing and many governments offer consumers incentives to purchase electric cars.