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Trican Well Service stock down as much as 15 per cent

Trican Well Service employees walk towards liquid nitrogen storage tanks at a hydraulic fracturing operation near Bowden, Alta.

Jeff McIntosh/The Globe and Mail

Investors punished Trican Well Service Ltd. on Wednesday, driving the stock down as much as 15 per cent after the company warned of a much bigger second-quarter loss than analysts had been expecting.

Wet weather, pricing pressure and higher costs were cited among reasons for the deteriorating results.

Shares in the Calgary-based oilfield services company plunged as low $10.39 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The previous 52-week low for Trican stock was $10.86. A year ago, it was approaching a 52-week high of $26.73.

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By midday the stock had recovered some ground, trading at $11.08, more than nine per cent below Tuesday's close.

Analysts had been looking for Trican to have a loss of about two cents per share on a fully reported basis, or four cents per share after adjustments, according to estimates compiled by Thomson Reuters.

The company said after markets closed Tuesday that it estimates the loss will actually be between 32 and 42 cents per share. It estimated an operating loss of between $24-million and $34-million for the three months ended June 30.

Second-quarter results are expected to be released July 30.

Trican, which provides equipment and services used for oil and gas drilling, said wet weather in May and June had delayed some projects.

Trican also said it expects pricing will decline in the second half of 2012 compared with the first half due to reduced customer budgets and increased competition from new pumping equipment in the Canadian market.

"We will continue to monitor the capital budgets and cash flows of our customers in light of low gas prices and the recent weakness in oil prices," Trican said.

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"We expect that any additional reductions in capital spending by our customers will decrease Canadian rig count and place further pricing pressure on the Canadian pressure pumping market."

It also said that it's looking at parking rig crews in the United States.

The second quarter also saw an increase in the price of guar, an ingredient in the fluid mixtures used to blast natural gas and oil out of shale rock in a process called fracking.

Trican said it wasn't able to pass on those costs to its customers due to the competitive pricing environment, but that it expects to benefit from cost-cutting measures of its own in the second half of the year. It also expects guar costs to ease later in 2012.

None of the factors that Trican cited as challenges should have been surprising, said Bank of Montreal analyst Michael Mazar.

"Everyone who lives here knows that it rains every single day in June," he said.

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The pricing pressure and cost inflation are also "fairly well understood" in the market, he added.

"The magnitude of it is bigger, I think, than what people were expecting."

Mr. Mazar said he expects Trican's issues to be temporary.

The second quarter is ordinarily a tough time of year for many petroleum services companies in Canada because the ground is too mushy after the spring thaw to support heavy equipment. Work that Trican couldn't complete in northeastern B.C. this spring can be done later in the year.

Trican will also fare better once it moves some of its rigs from weaker U.S. markets, like the Eagle Ford in Texas and the Haynesville in Louisiana, to stronger ones like the Bakken in North Dakota.

"I actually think the stock will be reasonably resilient. It's going to be hit today, but then I think it will bounce back reasonably quickly," Mr. Mazar said.

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