Despite all the talk about clean energy, oil is the lifeblood of the world economy and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Oil prices have been bouncing around wildly over the last few months, but over the long term they are likely to rebound from their current levels.
Schlumberger(SLB) - Get Report is the world's leading oilfield services provider. For a company that has been the leader in its industry for more than a quarter of a century, its stock price can be somewhat volatile, due in part to the unpredictable nature of oil prices. But over the long haul-which is what counts-it has generated solid returns.
Schlumberger provides the technology for a wide range of energy-related activities, including reservoir characterization, drilling, and refining. Working in more than 85 countries and employing approximately 100,000 people, the company supplies the industry's most comprehensive range of products and services, with an emphasis on exploring for new fuel reserves.
The second quarter of 2016 offered particularly challenging market conditions for the company, but even in that tough environment, management was able to deliver robust operating income, operating margin, and free cash flow. Second-quarter revenue increased 10% over the previous quarter, reflecting a full quarter of activity from its acquisition of Cameron International, which contributed $1.5 billion in revenue.
Schlumberger's big geographical footprint and broad technology portfolio offers the company unique advantages that helped to mitigate the effects of a downturn in any one market. This gives the firm an inherent advantage over such competitors as Halliburton (HAL) - Get Report . Schlumberger's established relationships with petroleum giants like ExxonMobil (XOM) - Get Report are also integral to the business.
For many years, the company has been coming up with creative new ways to search for tomorrow's fuels today. It recently teamed up with TGS to launch a series of multi-vessel explorations of the central Gulf of Mexico, a region that has yielded strong dividends before. The combined technology of the two firms will enable search teams to illuminate and image undersea areas that have never been reached before.
Management has also shown the ability to make the tough calls that a company has to make to survive in the economic jungle. Earlier this year it got some negative publicity when it laid off more than 16,000 employees. But such actions are almost inevitable in a highly cyclical business, and the most recent revenue numbers show that the company has been able to do more with less.
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This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.