Oil pumpjackThe world's largest oil field services firm, Schlumberger Ltd. (NYSE: SLB) issued an update on fourth-quarter operations that lowers the company's earnings per share (EPS) forecast by $0.05 to $0.07 per share. The terse press release attributes the weaker forecast to "contractual delays" and "higher than usual seasonal slowdowns" in Europe, Russia and Africa, as well as to weaker-than-expected onshore drilling in the United States and Western Canada.

Schlumberger, along with rivals Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) and Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE: BHI), has been hit by the slowdown in natural gas drilling in North America. Gas producers have cut back production in an effort to drive natural gas prices higher. From a low of around $1.90 per thousand cubic feet in April, it rose to a high near $4 per thousand cubic feet, before dropping back to around $3.30 today.

The consensus estimate for Schlumberger's fourth-quarter EPS is $1.13 on revenues of $11 billion. In the third quarter the company posted EPS of $1.08 on revenues of $10.6 billion. The company's consensus estimate has dropped from $1.20 just three months ago and will slide further following today's announcement.

The company's shares are trading down about 3.8% in premarket activity this morning, at $69.81 in a 52-week range of $59.12 to $80.78.

Paul Ausick


Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Earnings Warning, Oil & Gas Tagged: BHI, HAL, SLB

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