Schlumberger's 3Q profit tops forecasts as oil drilling jumps

The exterior of the Schlumberger Corporation headquarters building is pictured in the Galleria area of Houston January 16, 2015. REUTERS/Richard Carson

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Schlumberger (SLB.N) on Friday reported its strongest quarterly profit since 2015 with results that topped Wall Street forecasts on oilfield drilling and equipment sales that surged on high oil and gas prices.

Oil and gas producers are increasing production with crude prices near eight-year highs, boosting demand for Schlumberger's equipment, services and technology.

Brent crude prices averaged $98.96 a barrel during the quarter, up 33% from the third quarter of 2021.

Schlumberger's net income was $907 million, or 63 cents a share, for the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared with $550 million, or 39 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts had expected earnings of 55 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Adjusted earnings and pre-tax segment operating margin was 18.7%, the highest since 2015, the company said.

"The pace of growth in our international business stepped up significantly," Schlumberger Chief Executive Olivier Le Peuch said in a statement.

"Energy industry fundamentals continue to be very constructive," Le Peuch added, saying more investment is required to address an energy supply crunch and limited existing oil production capacity.

Revenue this quarter will grow by more than 20% while pre-tax margins will expand 200 basis points compared with the same period in 2021, Schlumberger said.

Le Peuch told investors activity in the Middle East will drive the next leg of growth and that over the next few years, the region is slated to benefit from the "largest investment cycle we have ever seen."

Schlumberger boosted this year's capital spending by 10% to $2.2 billion, a "signal of confidence in a more sustained recovery for the world's largest oilfield services company," said Peter McNally, an analyst at Third Bridge.

Shares were up nearly 7% in morning trade at $48.80.

"Schlumberger continues to capitalize on the strengthening business dynamics with strong performance from scale internationally," Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.

Total revenue rose 28% to $7.48 billion, with international operations contributing $5.88 billion. Wall Street had expected revenue of $7.1 billion for the quarter.

International revenue was up 13% sequentially and 26% from a year ago, while revenue in North America was flat compared with the prior quarter but up 37% from last year.

Reporting by Ruhi Soni in Bengaluru and Liz Hampton in Denver; Editing by Mark Potter, Elaine Hardcastle, Paul Simao and Marguerita Choy

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