Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB)—the world’s leading diversified oilfield services company—provides a variety of technology-based services that enable companies to identify hydrocarbon reservoirs, drill complex wells, manage production, and maximize recovery over the life of the well. The company is most dominant in international markets, where it is often larger than its next two biggest competitors combined. This leading scale contributes to its superior profitability and free cash flow generation. As a result, Schlumberger has historically traded at a premium valuation compared to its peers. That said, valuations for the Oil Services industry are low relative to historical averages; and, when compared to other leading global industrial companies, Schlumberger’s valuation at 2.3 times sales looks reasonable.
Although the near-term outlook for oil prices is uncertain, we believe Schlumberger’s long-term growth prospects are attractive. Through its research and development (R&D) program and targeted acquisition strategy, Schlumberger is able to offer advanced and integrated services that are differentiated and improve a customer’s productivity per well. Furthermore, Schlumberger is in the midst of a restructuring program to increase efficiency and reduce capital intensity. Management has proactively adjusted its cost structure to deal with reduced activity levels in the current environment. These efforts have enabled the company to continue generating attractive levels of free cash flow, which provide strategic options for reinvesting in the business or for returning capital to shareholders. Continued industry consolidation should improve the competitive and pricing environment. Halliburton’s proposed acquisition of Baker Hughes would combine the second- and third-largest industry competitors. While weaker demand and a low oil price environment have weighed on Schlumberger’s share price, we believe its valuation, solid balance sheet, cash flow generation, and prospects make it an attractive long-term investment opportunity. We recently added to the position (a 3.1% holding on June 30). Continue Reading »