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25-04-2012 13:40:00

National Oilwell 1Q Net Jumps 49% As Field Activity Ramps Up

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National Oilwell Varco Inc.'s (NOV) first-quarter earnings rose a stronger-than-expected 49% on broad growth in all the company's main business segments.

The company's earnings have surged over the past year as oil-and-gas producers boost their capital expenditures, often spending heavily on complex equipment that can extract harder-to-reach reserves through unconventional means like hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

Producers are now poised to move much of their spending in North America to areas that yield more oil and natural-gas liquids instead of cheap natural gas--a shift that could generate yet more demand for National Oilwell's products.

Chairman and Chief Executive Pete Miller said the company's petroleum services and supplies unit performed "exceptionally well" in the latest quarter as high levels of oilfield activity spurred demand across the company's businesses.

The company has grown to be become the sector's dominant equipment maker through mergers, including a deal for NKT Flexibles, a joint venture between NKT Holding A/S (NKT.KO) and Norwegian Subsea 7 SA (SUBC.OS) valued at about $672.6 million when it was disclosed in February.

National Oilwell this month unveiled yet another acquisition, agreeing to buy Schlumberger Ltd.'s (SLB) Wilson business, which distributes pipe, valves and other products to the oil patch. Terms of that deal, which will vastly expand National Oilwell's footprint, were not disclosed.

National Oilwell reported a profit of $606 million, or $1.42 a share, up from $407 million, or 96 cents a share, a year earlier. Excluding transactions costs and other adjustments, per-share earnings rose to $1.44 from $1 as revenue surged 37% to $4.3 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting a $1.39 per-share profit on $4.3 billion of revenue.

Gross margin narrowed to 29.5% from 31.6%.

Backlog at the company's rig-technology business reached $10.36 billion as of March 31, up from $10.16 billion at the end of December. New orders in the segment, National Oilwell's largest, rose to $1.91 billion, a 15% increase from its $1.67 billion level a quarter earlier.

Revenue in the rig technology segment jumped 40% from a year ago, while the petroleum services and supplies unit generated 35% higher revenue. Sales from the distribution and transmission segment rose 38%.

Shares closed at $78.02 Tuesday and were inactive premarket. The stock has climbed 15% so far this year.

-By Drew FitzGerald, Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2909; Andrew.FitzGerald@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 25, 2012 07:40 ET (11:40 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2012 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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