Schlumberger profits fall but outlook rosy

US oilfield services group Schlumberger has seen profits fall more than expected in the past quarter despite a surge in its revenues, but told investors it would still meet its stretching 2012 growth targets.

Schlumberger’s third-quarter net profit fell 24 per cent to $1.3bn (£825m), or 96 cents a share, from $1.7bn, or $1.38 a share in the same quarter in 2010.

Excluding one-off items, Schlumberger earned 98 cents per share, below a consensus forecast of $1.01 from analysts polled by Reuters.

The group’s new chief executive Paal Kibsgaard also warned that the current expectations for fourth-quarter profits were "on the optimistic side” as oil prices fall and demand stays low.

But he said any reduction in profits would be "short-lived” and the outlook for oilfield services “remains very positive”, leaving 2012 set for more gains.

"While the financial turmoil introduces some uncertainty over near-term activity, it has yet to have an impact on the actual activity of our customers," Kibsgaard told analysts on a call.

The profit fall came despite a 49 per cent increase in Schlumberger’s revenues, to $10.2bn.

Schlumberger said offshore demand would help its business, which was also boosted by growth in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Brazil in the third quarter. A surge in offshore drilling, however, along with all the growth outside North America, underpinned a good 2012 outlook.
But its 2010 figures were boosted by a gain of nearly $1.00 per share on the increased value of M-I Swaco after buying Smith International, its partner in the joint venture.