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Superior Energy Services tanks 19% on wider quarterly loss than expected

Oil workers, rig, lows
Martin Divisek | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Shares of Superior Energy Services cratered on Tuesday after the oilfield services company reported a wider quarterly loss than expected as international prices for its services remain weak.

The stock plunged as much as 20 percent and closed down $3.52 a share, or 19 percent, at $15.03. It had run up nearly 38 percent this year through Monday's close.

Superior and other other firms that provide services to oil majors and independent drillers have been forced to offer deep discounts to their customers as a two-year crude price downturn enters its third year. Oil prices have stabilized at $50, less than half of their 2014 peaks.

David Dunlap, president and CEO of Superior, said a rising U.S. oil rig count and stabilization in natural gas prices suggest a cyclical recovery is approaching, but he acknowledged a transition could take several quarters given the depth of the downturn.

Superior on Monday reported an adjusted loss of 73 cents per share in the third quarter as its performance failed to meet expectations in three out of four business segments. Analysts had been anticipating a loss of 57 cents. Revenues came in at $326.2 million, also missing expectations.

"The 9% revenue miss versus consensus likely leaves the stock in the penalty box at least in the near-term," the investment bank Clarksons Platou said in a note.

U.S. revenues for land services rose 8 percent sequentially, but Gulf of Mexico sales dropped 30 percent and international revenues were down 13 percent, Clarksons noted.

"International markets will continue to lag a U.S. land recovery, in our view, and [Superior's] Gulf of Mexico exposure is also a headwind," Nomura Research said in a note.

By comparison, Baker Hughes shares were up 4 percent after it reported a smaller-than-expected loss as it reined in expenses.

Last week, Halliburton reported a surprise profit of 1 cent per share, also due largely to cost-cutting measures. Schlumberger, the world's largest oilfield services firm, came in 3 cents per share above estimates on Friday, though earnings fell 82 percent from a year earlier, reflecting costs associated with its acquisition of Cameron International.