Baker Hughes eyes 4Q profit hit from weak North America activity

Oil field services firm Baker Hughes Inc. is warning that its North America revenue and profit margins are expected to be lower than previous expectations in the fourth quarter because of weaker than anticipated onshore activity and falling prices in its pressure pumping operations.

The Houston-based company said Tuesday that its operating profit before tax margin is now expected to be between 8.5 percent and 9.5 percent for the fourth quarter, compared to 11.7 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

While its international operations are being hampered by weaker than anticipated rig count activity in Brazil and Colombia, activity delays in the North Sea, and continued operational delays in Iraq, Baker Hughes expects operating profit before tax margin for the segment to be similar to the 12 percent reported in the third quarter, excluding certain one-time items.

Company shares fell 13 cents to $40.51 in morning trading.

Baker Hughes says it will discuss its fourth-quarter results on Jan. 23.

The news from Baker Hughes follows the disclosure last week by rival oil field services firm Schlumberger that it, too, is seeing weaker than expected activity in North America.

Schlumberger also cited operational delays in Europe and Africa as reasons it expects to take a fourth-quarter earnings hit. It said Friday it estimates the combined impact from both issues will affect its earnings per share by 5 cents to 7 cents.

In morning trading Tuesday, Schlumberger shares were up 3 cents at $69.71.