Earnings Reports for Jan. 18

For all of 2000, Nortel had an operating profit of $2.31 billion, or 74 cents per share, but suffered a net loss of $3.47 billion, or $1.17 per share. In 1999, Nortel reported an operating profit of $1.43 billion, or 52 cents per share, and a net loss of $351 million, or 13 cents a share.

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Schlumberger Earnings Jump, Meet Expectations

Schlumberger, the world's No. 2 oilfield services company, said today its fourth-quarter earnings more than quadrupled due to high oil and natural gas prices, which drove a gradual increase in oil companies' spending on exploration and production.

Net income from continuing operations rose to $237.9 million or 41 cents per share from $58.5 million or 10 cents per share in the fourth quarter of 1999. Revenues rose 26.7 percent to $2.86 billion. Reported earnings per share were in line with analysts' expectations, according to First Call/Thomson Financial.

After stripping out a one-time charge in the fourth quarter of 1999, earnings per share showed an increase of 78 percent to 41 cents from 23 cents, the company said.

Schlumberger said despite the strong rise in oil and natural gas prices last year, oil companies had been relatively slow to increase their drilling efforts, because they were preoccupied with implementing a wave of mergers that swept the industry and were concerned that the higher prices would prove unsustainable.

Chairman and CEO Euan Baird said Schlumberger expected oil companies to continue to raise their exploration and production spending in 2001 unless a sharp global economic slowdown led to reduced demand for oil and gas.

Higher oil company spending translates into increased revenues for oilfield service companies.

"Total activity in 2001 is expected to be well above 2000 levels as oil companies move more aggressively to explore for and develop new fields and to optimize older fields to improve their productivity and lower their producing costs," Baird said in a statement.

Schlumberger's stock rose some 42 percent last year, more or less in line with the Philadelphia Stock Exchange's oilfield services index which posted a gain of 45 percent.

Although benchmark U.S. oil prices have recently retreated from their September high of over $37 per barrel, recent levels around $30 are still lofty by historical standards and are almost three times the lows reached in late 1998.

Similarly, benchmark U.S. natural gas prices have slipped to just below $7 per thousand cubic feet from a December high of around $10, but this time last year they were below $3.

Analysts expect the world's biggest oil companies to ramp up their international exploration and production spending in 2001 after a period of two to three years in which they have been largely focused on mergers and internal reorganizations.

Up to now the recovery in demand for oilfield services has been largely driven by a surge in drilling for natural gas by smaller independent companies in North America.

In recently published reports, analysts at Salomon Smith Barney and Leman Brothers predicted that oil and gas companies' exploration and production spending would rise by about 20 percent this year, compared with 2000.

Schlumberger ranks second in the oilfield services industry behind Halliburton Co., measured by revenues. Its offerings to the oil industry range from drill bits and pumps to wireline logging and seismic analysis. BACK TO TOP

Sears Tops Estimates

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