Schlumberger Beats Estimates, Hikes Dividend
Oilfield service provider Schlumberger, Ltd. (NYSE: SLB – $80.25) reported better-than-expected results in the fourth quarter and boosted its quarterly dividend 25%. Adjusted earnings per share was $1.50, up 11% year-on-year on revenue of $12.6 billion. The Street expected $1.45 per share, and revenue was in line with estimates. Performance for the full year was driven by North America where revenue grew 16%, while international growth of 4% was led by a 10% increase in Middle East & Asia. The company said “The strength of these results demonstrated the resiliency of our business portfolio in the face of activity challenges in 2014 in Brazil, Mexico, and China; reduced spending in deepwater, exploration and seismic activity; unrest in Libya and Iraq; international sanctions in Russia; and the accelerating fall in the price of oil toward the end of the year. The combination of these headwinds reduced revenue growth by more than $1 billion, or 2%, yet revenue still increased 7% as a result of strong tailwinds in Argentina, Ecuador, Sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and North America that combined with market share gains, drove overall performance.” Schlumberger also said that it will be reducing its headcount by 9,000 jobs to align current business activities with demand. Despite a week energy environment, SLB declared a quarterly dividend of $0.50 per share, up 25% from the previous quarterly payout. The new annual rate of $2.00 will yield investors 2.5%, at current quotations. The high-quality shares, which have slumped in sympathy with falling oil, can be held for long-term recovery, but of course, investor sentiment will be affected by where energy prices head from here.