Halliburton Earnings Look Better Than They Are

Drilling rig
Drilling rig

Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) reported fourth-quarter and full-year 2012 results before markets opened this morning. For the quarter, the oil and gas services company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.72 on revenues of $7.3 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.98 on revenues of $7.06 billion.

Fourth-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for EPS of $0.61 and $7.06 billion in revenues. That Halliburton so handily beat the quarterly EPS estimate is less a testimony to the company's performance than it is to analysts' fears.

For the full year, Halliburton posted EPS of $2.84 on revenues of $28.5 billion, compared with EPS of $3.26 on revenues of $24.83 billion in 2011. The consensus estimate called for EPS of $2.97 on revenues of $28.27 billion.

On a GAAP basis, excluding income from discontinued operations, fourth-quarter EPS totaled $0.63 and full-year EPS totaled $2.78.

The company's CEO said:

From a revenue perspective, we set new records this year in all of our regions and both of our divisions. From an operating income perspective, we achieved new records in our Latin America region and in five of our twelve product lines.

In North America, revenue was down 5% and operating income was down, driven mainly by pricing pressure in hydraulic fracturing, guar cost inflation, and activity disruptions due to Hurricane Isaac. We are also seeing activity reductions by some of our customers as they continue to moderate activity to operate within their stated 2012 budgets. … North America revenue was down 5% compared to the previous quarter, in line with the sequential 5% drop in the United States land rig count. Operating income was down 22% compared to adjusted third quarter results, driven mainly by an unusually high post-Thanksgiving decline in activity levels with key customers, increased consumption of our high priced supply of guar, and continued pricing pressure around hydraulic fracturing contracts.

Our North America margins are also temporarily being negatively impacted by the upfront roll out costs of our Frac of the Future initiative, by our commitment to our customers to remain active in the North America natural gas basins at lower margins, and by our decision to stack equipment during the fourth quarter.

The company expects its North American rig count to improve in 2013, but still to come in below 2012 totals. Halliburton did not offer guidance, but the consensus estimate for the first quarter calls for EPS of $0.59 on revenues of $6.89 billion. For the full-year, the consensus estimate calls for EPS of $2.97 on revenues of $29.23 billion.

Falling prices for pressure pumping services and fewer North American rigs are the story for the oil field services firms in 2013, just as they were in 2012. The story does not look to have a happy ending.

Halliburton's shares are up about 3.2% in premarket trading at $39.01 in a 52-week range is $26.28 to $39.19. Thomson Reuters had a consensus analyst price target of around $43.60 before today's report.

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