A Postmortem on Schlumberger Limited (SLB) Earnings

Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) reported a $1 billion loss last night, but the shares are soaring today

Jan 22, 2016 at 3:06 PM
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Oil-and-gas issue Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) unveiled a $1.02 billion loss in its fourth quarter last night. Additionally, CEO Paal Kibsgaard warned SLB may fall short of the consensus estimate for the current quarter, calling it a "best-case scenario." However -- as with many of its sector peers -- the stock is higher in the wake of the results, after announcing a $10 billion share repurchase program and plans to lay off 10,000 employees.

Additionally, SLB unveiled a new partnership with Golar LNG Limited (USA) (NASDAQ:GLNG). At last check, the shares were up 5.5% at $64.80 -- and on pace to close north of their 10-day moving average for the first time this year.

In the options pits, volume has exploded to three times what's typically seen at this point in the day, with puts outpacing their call counterparts by a nearly 3-to-1 margin. The majority of traders are of the eleventh-hour variety, with the equity's weekly 1/22 series -- which expires at tonight's close -- accounting for eight of SLB's most active options. The equity's weekly 1/22 65-strike put is most popular, and appears to be seeing a mix of buying and selling activity.

Looking out to the front-month series, it seems safe to assume new positions are being purchased at SLB's February 65.50 put. By buying to open these puts, speculators expect the stock to settle south of $65.50 at the close on Friday, Feb. 19. Should the shares extend today's climb, though, the most the speculators stand to lose is the initial premium paid.

Heading into today's session, option traders were already taking a glass-half-empty approach to SLB. At the International Securities Exchange (ISE), Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), and NASDAQ OMX PHLX (PHLX), speculative players have bought to open 1.72 puts for each call over the past month.

During the past 10 sessions, specifically, SLB's February 70 put has seen the largest increase in open interest, with 5,721 new positions initiated. This handily beats the weekly 1/22 60-strike put, which came in second with 3,965 fresh positions opened.

On the charts, Schlumberger Limited (NYSE:SLB) has experienced the same struggles as the broader energy sector. In fact, since topping out at an all-time high of $118.76.94 in July 2014, the shares have surrendered 45%.

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