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EARNINGS PREVIEW: Weather, Unrest To Weigh On US Oilfield-Services Cos

By Tess Stynes Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES TAKING THE PULSE: The U.S. oilfield-services industry's first-quarter results likely will be tempered by severe winter weather, including iced-over roads and blizzards in key production areas like Texas and Oklahoma. Companies' international results also may be hurt by political crises in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as cyclones and flooding in Australia. Japan's earthquake and tsunami are expected to have a minimal impact. High oil prices have driven producers and explorers to step up spending on North American unconventional shale plays and international offshore discoveries. Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI) recently reported that U.S. oil rig counts were at 20-year highs, though natural-gas rig counts have wavered lately as prices remain weak. COMPANIES TO WATCH: Halliburton Co. (HAL) reports April 18 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters, on average, project earnings of 59 cents a share on revenue of $4.9 billion. Prior-year profit was 23 cents, including 5 cents in losses and tax impacts related Venezuela's currency devaluation, on revenue of $3.76 billion. Key Issues: The second-largest oilfield-services company behind Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) last month said it expected political unrest in the Middle East and North Africa to cut its per-share profit by 3 cents to 4 cents. It also predicted declines at the high end of its typical 5 cents to 8 cents a share from seasonal weather and year-end sales. The company also is likely to get a boost from its Boots & Coots Inc. acquisition. Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) reports April 21 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts expect a profit of 78 cents a share on revenue of $8.87 billion. A year earlier, earnings were 56 cents, including a net 6 cents in acquisition and health-care overhaul related charges, on revenue of $5.6 billion. Key Issues: Chief Executive Andrew Gould in late March warned that winter storms in North America, flooding and a typhoon in Australia and political upheaval in the Middle East and Africa could cut per-share profit by 8 cents to 10 cents. He also said the Japan earthquake had "minimal effect on the quarter." Schlumberger's $11 billion acquisition of drilling equipment and services company Smith International Inc. in August is likely to boost its performance. Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT) reports April 21 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts forecast a profit of 19 cents a share on revenue of $2.85 billion, compared with a year-earlier per-share loss of 5 cents, or adjusted earnings of 6 cents excluding Venezuela currency-devaluation effects and restructuring-related costs, on revenue of $2.34 billion. Key Issues: Weatherford in March slashed its first-quarter earnings view on a higher-than-expected tax rate, inclement weather in Australia and political unrest in North Africa. Those factors and volatile oil prices led it to rescind its view for the year. It has also warned results are likely to be affected by disruptions in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Bahrain, which together account for about 3% of its revenue. Though Weatherford's bottom line has improved in recent quarters due to a rebound in North America, it has lagged behind the sector amid reduced activity in Mexico. Nabors Industries Ltd. (NBR) reports April 26 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts anticipate a profit of 34 cents on revenue of $1.3 billion, compared with year-earlier earnings of 14 cents, or 21 cents excluding items such as charges related to Venezuela's currency devaluation, on revenue of $903.4 million. Key Issues: The land-drilling oil contractor, which derives about three-quarters of its drilling revenue in the U.S. and Canada may largely sidestep disruptions in the Middle East and North Africa. Nabors' $900 million acquisition of Superior Well Services Inc. in September and onshore drilling in the U.S. and Canada have been boosting revenue. The company in February predicted seasonal slowness for the first half of the year in its U.S. pressure-pumping and well-servicing businesses, as well as scheduled downtime and some lower renewal rates in its international operations. Baker Hughes reports April 27 Wall Street Expectations: Analysts forecast earnings of 78 cents on revenue of $4.28 billion. A year earlier, the company had a profit of 41 cents on revenue of $2.54 billion. Key Issues: Baker Hughes, which had been focusing on improving its results abroad and had seen some progress in the third quarter, forecast in early March that unrest in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya would cut per-share earnings by 4 cents to 7 cents. Egypt and nearby nations produced about 3% of its 2010 revenue. Harsh winter in North America also was expected to hurt the bottom line. The company's acquisition of BJ Services Co. in April is likely to boost revenue again. (The Thomson Reuters estimate and year-earlier earnings may not be comparable due to one-time items and other adjustments) -By Tess Stynes, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2481; Tess.Stynes@dowjones.com

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