Oil-field equipment and services provider Baker Hughes Co on Thursday posted better-than-expected quarterly results and joined a chorus of energy companies saying the industry’s worst downturn in decades would turn a corner this year.
Oil and gas producers have been forced to cut budgets, restructure operations and reduce employees, to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic-led fallout in energy demand and prices.
“As we look ahead to 2021, we are cautiously optimistic that the global economy and oil demand will begin to recover from the impact of the pandemic,” Baker Hughes Chief Executive Officer Lorenzo Simonelli said on a post-earnings call.
“We expect spending and activity levels to gain momentum through the year as the macro environment improves, likely setting up the industry for stronger growth in 2022.”
Baker Hughes’ quarterly operating profit and revenue also topped Wall Street estimates, lifting the company’s shares slightly in early trade.
Cost cuts and sequentially higher sales from the company’s oilfield services and machinery units benefited margins, analysts said.
Baker Hughes forecast improvements in North America drilling activity in the first half of the year. Internationally, it expects a recovery in the second half after a relatively flat first half.
Halliburton Co predicted a recovery in the global oil and gas industry from the second quarter of this year.
Baker Hughes’ adjusted operating profit nearly doubled to $462 million in the fourth quarter, compared with the third, beating Wall Street estimates of $335 million.
The company said it exceeded its cost savings target of $700 million for 2020, while adding it would continue to optimize business to further reduce costs. Baker Hughes has reduced its budget, number of employees, restructured operations and closed facilities.
Baker Hughes reported revenue of $5.50 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31, beating estimates of $5.42 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES.
While revenue and profit in the reported quarter were higher compared with the third, they were still below numbers posted a year earlier, when drilling activity was much higher.
Halliburton posted a better-than-expected profit on Tuesday, while top oilfield service provider Schlumberger is scheduled to report results on Friday.
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