UPDATE 3-Schlumberger says drilling slowdown to hit profit

Fri Dec 14, 2012 11:27am EST
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* Says drilling activity in North America has slowed

* Earnings hit seen at 5 to 7 cents per share

* Shares down 5.8 pct

Dec 14 (Reuters) - Schlumberger Ltd, the world's top oilfield services company, said on Friday its fourth-quarter earnings would be hurt by weaker-than-expected drilling activity in North America and contract delays in Europe and Africa.

The forecast sent shares of the company down 5.8 percent.

Oil and gas companies have slowed onshore exploration in North America as drilling budgets for the year are exhausted and prices for natural gas and natural gas liquids remain low.

Schlumberger estimated the slowdown will hurt its earnings by 5 cents to 7 cents per share in the fourth quarter.

Dahlman Rose & Co cut its earnings expectations for the company to $1.07 per share from $1.13 after the company's profit warning. Analysts' average estimate was $1.13, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Schlumberger's profit warning may telegraph fourth-quarter weakness for oil and gas companies, analysts at Robert W. Baird said in a note to clients.   Continued...