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What Awaits Oil Drilling Stocks in Q1 Earnings: BHI, NOV

The Q1 earnings season is in full swing with more and more companies reporting financial results every day. However, the overall bearish sentiment of the market remains unchanged. Factors such as slowdown in the Chinese economy, continued volatility in commodity prices and the prevailing low and sometimes even a negative interest rate scenario keep us on sidelines.

The prevailing trend in the oil and energy sector has been well outlined in the Zacks Earnings Trend report. According to the report, the 132 companies enlisted in the S&P 500 index that have released their Q1 results so far, have been able to impress. With numerous positive earnings and revenue surprises and fewer negative estimate revisions for the current quarter, the trend is quite encouraging. However, growth prospects of the industry do not look too bright with Q1 earnings of most firms coming in below the year-earlier levels. Also, this marks the fourth consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline in earnings.  

As of Friday, Apr 22, 7.9% of the oil and energy companies reported Q1 earnings. These stocks account for 11.9% of the total market capitalization. Total earnings for these index members plunged 60.9% from the year-ago period on a 30.3% decline in revenues. Nonetheless, 33.3% of these firms beat both earnings and revenue estimates in the quarter.

Looking at the overall Q1 earnings picture, investors should note that excluding the impact of the energy sector, the markets will likely fall by 4.1%. However, including the impact of crude, the market is predicted to go south by 9.4%. Hence, it is evident the energy sector will be a major dampener in the overall Q1 earnings picture.

Oilfield services companies are generally the first to kick-off the oilpatch earnings season. Some like Core Laboratories NV CLB and Schlumberger Ltd. SLB have already reported Q1 results – both coming out with lackluster numbers. The earnings and revenues for both the companies decreased year over year. The challenging market conditions (especially in North America, which has been the worst hit by the downturn) – both in terms of pricing and activity – led to the underperformance.

We now wait to see how other energy sector bigwigs like Baker Hughes Inc. BHI and National Oilwell Varco, Inc. NOV perform when they report their Q1 results.

Baker Hughes Inc. is slated to release Q1 results on Apr 25, before the opening bell.  The company has an Earnings ESP of -3.03% and Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Though a favorable Zacks Rank increases the predictive power of ESP, the company’s ESP of -3.03% makes surprise prediction difficult.

In the preceding three-month period, the Houston, TX-based oilfield services provider delivered a negative surprise of 110.00%. The underperformance is attributable to a sharp decline in activity and the ongoing pricing pressure as exploration and production companies further adjust their spending to combat the freefall in commodity prices.

Nonetheless, the company’s strategic initiatives, financial discipline and cost reduction measures should better equip the company to combat the oil price woes.

Coming to earnings surprise history, the company has a mixed record – the company surpassed estimates in two of the last four quarters. (Read more: Baker Hughes: What's in Store This Earnings Season?)

National Oilwell Varco Inc. is set to release Q1 results before the opening bell on Apr 28. The company has an Earnings ESP of -18.18% and Zacks Rank #3. Though a Zacks Rank #3 increases the predictive power of ESP, a negative ESP makes surprise prediction difficult.

As crude remains in a bearish territory, top energy companies have resorted to spending cuts (particularly on the costly upstream projects) owing to lower profit margins. This, in turn, means less work for equipment suppliers like National Oilwell and is likely to translate into declining income in the to-be-reported quarter. However, financial strength and sound backlog could provide some respite for the company.

Last quarter, the company delivered a negative earnings surprise of 9.09%. In fact, National Oilwell posted an average negative earnings surprise of 666.67% over the last four quarters. Coming to earnings surprise history, the company lagged estimates in all of the last four quarters. (Read more: Will Low Oil Prices Hurt National Oilwell Q1 Earnings?)

Don’t miss out on our full earnings release articles for these two energy stocks, as the actual results might hold some surprises!

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NATL OILWELL VR (NOV): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
BAKER-HUGHES (BHI): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
SCHLUMBERGER LT (SLB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
CORE LABS NV (CLB): Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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