Shares of Liberty Oilfield Services jump on earnings beat, outlook

FILE PHOTO: Drilling rigs operate at sunset in Midland, Texas, U.S., February 13, 2019. REUTERS/Nick Oxford

(Reuters) -Shares of oilfield services provider Liberty Oilfield Services soared on Wednesday after topping Wall Street earnings estimates and issuing an optimistic outlook for the shale-oil services market.

Liberty’s shares were trading at $12, up 11%. Benchmark U.S. oil prices also climbed 1.8% to $64.06 on a smaller-than-expected increase in crude oil inventories that was bullish for demand.

The upbeat report comes after a brutal year for oilfield service companies that saw customers cut budgets and curtail activity to stem losses. Private companies have been increasing output on the rebound in prices, while publicly traded operators remain “steadfast” in their commitment to reduced spending, Chief Executive Chris Wright told investors.

Liberty’s revenues rose 114% from the prior quarter to $552 million, above analysts’ estimates of $497.49 million. On an adjusted basis, the company posted a loss of 17 cents per share, lower than analysts’ average estimate of a loss of 22 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

“The market is healing,” said Wright, adding profit margins will improve by 2022.

The company’s deployed fracking fleet numbered in the low 30s for the first quarter and will likely stay there this quarter, Wright said. He estimated Liberty running roughly 15% of all deployed fleets and fracking about 20% of wells in North America.

“They clobbered expectations against a tough backdrop,” analysts for investment firm Tudor Pickering Holt & Co wrote in a note.

Liberty last year acquired rival Schlumberger’s North American hydraulic fracturing equipment in exchange for a 37% stake in the company.

Liberty said it will begin field testing its new electric frac fleet, called digiFrac, next month, tapping into a market that has gained greater interest among oil and gas producers seeking to reduce carbon emissions.

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