While Baker Hughes' (BHI) and General Electric's (GE - Get Report) Oil and Gas merger continues to move forward, investors will be keeping an eye on the oilfield services giant's fourth quarter financial results set to be released before the bell on Thursday, particularly the North America segment.
"Baker Hughes' fourth-quarter earnings may center around what North American results look like without the drag of the pressure-pumping business, and what implications that may have with respect to bundling opportunities," Bloomberg Intelligence Senior Industry Analyst Andrew Cosgrove says.
OPEC's historic agreement at the end of November last year created a favorable environment for exploration and production (E&P) companies, as many firms started acquiring more land, particularly in the prolific west Texas Permian Basin. The increase in E&P activities bodes well for oilfield services companies like Baker Hughes, which will get more contracts to set up oil wells.
That being said, BMO Capital Markets Analyst Daniel Boyd says North American revenue growth is "likely to substantially lag the rig count."
Aside from North America, international weakness is expected to weigh on the results, as it has for Halliburton (HAL - Get Report) and Schlumberger SLB, a holding in Jim Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS portfolio.
"Results may show more international weakness as pricing pressure and lower activity outpaced year-end product sales," Bloomberg Intelligence's Cosgrove says. He notes that the Middle East / Asia Pacific region is the only area where results are expected to improve for the fourth quarter, while Europe and Africa are likely to be the worst-performing international region on lower deepwater activity.
"We also think the foreign exchange is a risk to numbers throughout international," BMO's Boyd said in a recent research note.
Additionally, investors will be hoping for more color on its merger with GE's Oil and Gas business, which is set to close mid-2017. During GE's conference call with analysts, CFO Jeff Bornstein said the company has made "significant progress on integration efforts," but provided no other updates.
"The company's planned combination with GE Oil and Gas brings a substantial change of exposures (and ultimately scale) to the new Baker, while the BJ Services divestment should be a near-term boost to profitability," said J.P.Morgan Analyst Sean Meakim in a research note. "We are intrigued by the possibilities for BHI to leverage the GE relationship with respect to research and development and international scale, but struggle to quantify the potential impact."
For the fourth quarter, analysts are anticipating a loss of 12 cents a share on revenue of $2.4 billion. The company posted a positive earnings surprise of 65.5% for the last quarter. However, Baker Hughes reported negative earnings surprises of 32.5% and 44.9% for the first and second quarters of 2016, respectively.
The consensus rating on the shares is Buy, at 55.9%, and Hold with 41.2%. BHI shares rose during midday trading on Wednesday.