DOW JONES NEWSWIRES
Schlumberger Ltd.'s (SLB) first-quarter earnings rose 38% as the shift of rigs and services to liquids-rich basins continued to drive revenue growth.
Schlumberger, the world's largest oil field services company, had seen its revenue soar in recent quarters as exploration and production companies ramp up activity in areas like the deep-water U.S. Gulf of Mexico and vast oil-rich shale formations around the U.S. Schlumberger has predicted oil consumption and oil field activity will continue to grow through 2012, driven by relatively high energy prices and large oil companies' expanding their reserves. The company's international performance has also been improving as political tensions eased in key geographies, like Libya, where Schlumberger resumed activity during the fourth quarter.
Schlumberger reported a profit of $1.3 billion, or 97 cents a share, up from $944 million, or 69 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding items such as merger and integration costs, earnings rose to 98 cents from 71 cents. Revenue was $10.61 billion, a 22% jump from a year earlier, but down 3.3% from the prior quarter.
Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had most recently forecast earnings of 97 cents on revenue of $10.55 billion.
Oil-field services revenue from North America, the region which generates most of the top-line, dropped 3.2% from the fourth quarter, reflecting the seasonal slowdown in product, software and multiclient sales. The company said North America revenue was flat sequentially, excluding seasonal sales effects.
Schlumberger said the move of rigs and service capacity from gas-rich to liquids-rich basins accelerated during the most-recent quarter, while the pricing weakness experienced in prior quarters reached the liquids-rich basins.
Internationally, the impact of winter weather and year-end sales affects lowered revenue, but growing higher-margin exploration and deepwater activity in a number of regions kept margins flat, sequentially.
The Europe/Commonwealth of Independent States/Africa region's revenue declined 3.3% from the prior quarter while the Middle East and Asia posted a 3.9% decrease. Latin America revenue was down 4.4%.
Shares closed Thursday at $69.80 and were inactive premarket. The stock has fallen 5.4% over the past three months.
--By Melodie Warner, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2283; firstname.lastname@example.org