Oil Field Services Companies Hit by Weaker Oil Prices (SLB, HAL, BHI, WFT, NOV, RIG)

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Today’s falling crude prices are having an impact on stocks in the oil field services companies today. Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB), Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL), Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), Weatherford International Ltd. (NYSE: WFT), National Oilwell Varco Inc. (NYSE: NOV), and Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) are all down, with Weatherford faring the worst, off -5%.

The selling pressure is a result of the lower forecasts for global economic growth this year, which has had a dampening effect on crude oil prices today. Brent crude is down -1.21% at $122.30/barrel and WTI crude is down -1.66% at $104.95/barrel. Neither price drop is likely to have a significant impact on crude oil production unless today’s economic outlook actually comes true. Even then, the economic hit would have to be more substantial than the -0.3% offered up today for the shrinkage in the eurozone.

China, for example, would have to stick by its forecast of 7.5% GDP growth, and the Chinese are notorious for fiddling with things like bank reserve and lending requirements as the country tries to hit its economic targets. That fiddling very often has unintended consequences that add to market volatility.

The most important factor in crude prices is supply. Not Iran, not speculation, not even global GDP. The central issue for this year is whether or not supply can meet demand. As it stands right now it can, but just barely. A little slowdown won’t hurt producers, and it may even help consumers.

The services companies are all trading well below their target prices and any of the big three — Schlumberger, Halliburton, or Baker Hughes — are reasonable risks given the tight supply/demand situation expected this year.

Paul Ausick