(Adds forecast details, stock price)
By Ernest Scheyder
NEW ORLEANS, March 24 (Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd, the world’s largest oilfield services company, said on Monday it expects first-quarter earnings to be much higher than in the same period last year, as it takes market share from rivals and cuts costs.
Much of the growth will come from state-owned and independent energy companies that are spending to develop shale and other resources around the world, rather than multinational energy companies, most of whom are cutting spending, Schlumberger Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said at an energy conference in New Orleans.
“We still expect strong, year-over-year growth in earnings per share compared to the first quarter of 2013, which further supports our positive view for the year,” Kibsgaard said.
Analysts expect first-quarter earnings of $1.22 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The company earned $1.01 per share in the first quarter of 2013.
The positive outlook came despite cold, wintry weather in North America and Russia that dented demand for the company’s drilling, completion and other services for oil and natural gas producers. Kibsgaard, who touted the company’s use of technology to boost efficiency and take market share from rivals, said he would update Wall Street next month on the outlook.
Schlumberger, with an extensive international reach, gets almost 70 percent of its revenue from outside North America and is less exposed to North America than rivals Halliburton Co and Baker Hughes Inc.
The North American natural gas glut has forced many drillers to idle rigs until natural gas prices recover from recent lows. While prices jumped sharply last winter in the United States due to cold weather, they fell when temperatures rose.
Kibsgaard said he does not expect the winter price spike to cause a sudden surge in new natural gas drilling.
As of the end of last week, the number of U.S. rigs drilling for natural gas fell by 18 to 326 rigs, the lowest level since May 1995, according to Baker Hughes data.
Shares of Schlumberger rose 2 percent to $95.52 in morning trading on Monday. (Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Paul Simao)