October 19, 2018 / 1:05 PM / 6 months ago

Schlumberger reports slight profit beat despite sluggish U.S. growth

(Reuters) - Oilfield services provider Schlumberger NV (SLB.N) on Friday reported a slight profit beat but said that the pace of growth in North America had slowed due to transportation bottlenecks in the largest U.S. shale basin.

The exterior of a Schlumberger Corporation building is pictured in West Houston January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Richard Carson/Files

Although profits rose year-over-year, the company has been hit by slower-than-anticipated growth in the Permian basin, where production has outpaced available pipeline takeaway capacity and is driving prices lower. Schlumberger said it expects those bottlenecks to be resolved within the next 12 to 18 months.

“In North America, sequential growth remained positive but slowed from rates of previous quarters as takeaway constraints in the Permian impacted hydraulic fracturing activity,” Chief Executive Officer Paal Kibsgaard said on Friday.

Schlumberger, the largest oilfield service provider and first to report earnings, is seen as a bellwether for the industry. The company last month warned investors that slowing activity in North America was impacting its business.

The company reported a profit of $644 million, or 46 cents per share, up about 18 percent from a year ago. Analysts had anticipated earnings of 45 cents per share, excluding items, according to Refinitiv data.

Benchmark U.S. crude prices CLc1 are up about 40 percent from a year ago but service companies, which help operators drill and finish wells, have seen demand for their work cool as producers clamp down on spending and delay completions due to pipeline bottlenecks. [nL2N1WP1KD]

Shares of Schlumberger were up about 1.3 percent in pre-market trading on Friday at $59.2. The company’s stock has fallen by about 27 percent from a peak this year in late January.

Analysts from investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co said on Friday the results were within expectations but “unlikely to bring investors rushing off sidelines” and back into the oilfield services sector.

The company’s international revenue rose 1.3 percent to $5.22 billion, while revenue from its North America business rose about 23 percent to $3.20 billion.

Sequential revenue growth in the international business outpaced that of North America for the first time since the second quarter of 2014, Kibsgaard said.

The Houston-based company’s revenue rose to $8.5 billion from $7.91 billion. Analysts had anticipate revenues of $8.58 billion, according to Refinitiv data.

Reporting by John Benny in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Frances Kerry

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