[Editor’s note: This story was updated at 10:16 a.m. CST Feb. 1.]
Shares of Weatherford International Plc (NYSE: WFT) rose on Feb. 1 despite an earnings miss, as Wall Street focused on free cash flow generation and improved earnings.
The oilfield services provider, which has not reported a quarterly profit in four years, has struggled under the weight of a massive debt load since oil prices crashed in 2014.
On Feb. 1, it said its adjusted loss narrowed to $140 million or 14 cents per share, from $329 million or 33 cents per share a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected a loss of 12 cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Despite the loss, analysts said the results were neutral to positive, pointing to an EBITDA beat and free cash flow of $65 million. The company generated adjusted EBITDA of $210 million.
CEO Mark McCollum, who joined Weatherford from rival Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) in 2017, has been leading an effort to streamline business functions, cut costs and sell underperforming units to boost the company's balance sheet.
“Weatherford was able to continue to execute its transformation initiatives despite a volatile commodity price environment in the fourth quarter and post positive free cash flow,” analysts for Evercore ISI wrote in a note on Feb. 1 following the earnings release.
Shares of Weatherford were up more than 10% at nearly 72 cents in early market trading.
The company ended the quarter with $7.6 billion in long-term debt on hand.
Weatherford recorded $2 billion in one-time expenses during the final quarter of 2018, largely driven by a $1.9 billion write-off in its goodwill balance.
The company said it anticipated a single digit revenue decline in the first quarter of 2019 versus the fourth quarter, driven in part by seasonality, the sale of its land rigs in the Middle East, and lower producer spending on weaker oil prices.
Revenue from Weatherford’s Eastern Hemisphere markets fell 11% to $653 million in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31 due to the sale of some of its land drilling rigs and lower revenue in the Middle East.
Revenue overall fell marginally to $1.4 billion from $1.5 billion.
Weatherford wrapped up the multimillion-dollar sale of its land drilling rigs across North Africa and the Middle East as the oilfield services company works on trimming its debt burden.
Oil major Exxon Mobil said Jan. 31 it would create three new separate E&P companies, effective April 1, in an effort to double its profit by 2025.
Oil and gas operating costs in the U.S. shale basins have come down recently following a drop in crude prices, BP’s head of upstream Bernard Looney said on Feb. 5.