WRAPUP 2-Schlumberger, Baker top estimates with global drilling
* Offshore drilling strong in North America
* Middle East and Asia drive international demand
* Schlumberger shares up 2.6 pct, Baker shares up 8 pct
By Braden Reddall
Oct 18 (Reuters) - Increased oilfield activity in U.S. offshore waters and overseas gave a bigger-than-expected lift to profits at Schlumberger Ltd and Baker Hughes Inc , marking a clear divide with struggling smaller U.S. oil services firms.
Shares of Baker Hughes jumped 8 percent to their highest level since 2011 in early trading on Friday while Schlumberger climbed 2.6 percent after both companies reported third-quarter results.
Schlumberger and Baker Hughes executives cited healthy demand from the Middle East and Asia as well as work off the coast of North America, where prices for onshore services remain suppressed by a natural gas glut.
Schlumberger Chief Executive Paal Kibsgaard said he expects double-digit growth in earnings per share in 2014. "Our customers are in their planning process, but at this stage we foresee a continuation of the overall trend seen in 2013, which revealed another year of steady activity growth," he said on a conference call.
In the third quarter, Schlumberger topped analysts' profit estimates for the eighth consecutive quarter with a 20 percent rise, helped by unexpected positives out of the United States. Continued...