• REVENUE OF $173.2 MILLION, UP 2% YEAR-OVER-YEAR
• GAAP EPS OF $0.19; $0.48, EX-ITEMS, WITHIN COMPANY GUIDANCE
• CORE’S FCF OF $32.2 MILLION; CONVERTS 18.6% OF REVENUE TO FREE CASH
• FCF EXCEEDS 152% OF INCOME FROM CONTINUING OPERATIONS, EX-ITEMS
• CORE CONTINUES SHARE REPURCHASE PROGRAM
• COMPANY POSTS OILFIELD SERVICE-LEADING ROIC OF 24.5%
• COMPANY TOTAL SHAREHOLDER RETURNS OUTPACED THE OSX IN 2018 AND IN 13 OF THE LAST 16 YEARS
AMSTERDAM (30 January 2019) - Core Laboratories N.V. (NYSE: "CLB US" and Euronext Amsterdam: "CLB NA") ("Core", "Core Lab", or the "Company") reported that continuing operations resulted in fourth quarter 2018 revenue of $173,200,000, up 2% year-over-year, with operating income of $18,000,000 and earnings per diluted share ("EPS") of $0.19, all in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"); operating income, ex-items, a non-GAAP financial measure, was $28,400,000 and EPS, ex-items, was $0.48. During the fourth quarter of 2018, the Company recorded approximately $10,000,000 of non-cash stock compensation expense, in accordance with FASB ASC Topic 718, "Compensation - Stock Compensation", associated with certain executives reaching their eligible retirement age. These long-term incentive awards continue to be subject to their future vesting schedules and company financial performance metrics. Reconciliations of non-GAAP financial measures are included in the attached financial tables.
Core’s Board of Supervisory Directors ("Board") and the Company’s Executive Management continue to focus on strategies that maximize return on invested capital ("ROIC") and free cash flow ("FCF"), a non-GAAP financial measure defined as cash from operations less capital expenditures, while exercising capital discipline, factors that have high correlation with maximizing total shareholder return. Core’s asset-light business model promotes capital efficiency, designed to produce more predictable, superior long-term, and sustainable ROIC. Bloomberg's calculations using the latest comparable data available indicate that Core’s ROIC of 24.5% is the highest for all major companies in its oilfield service Comp Group.
Reservoir Description is heavily exposed to international and offshore activity levels. Over 80% of its revenue is sourced outside the U.S., where core, reservoir fluid and derived product samples originate from international projects. The continued slow recovery of international and deepwater field development activity impacted revenue opportunities for the Company’s Reservoir Description segment during the fourth quarter of 2018. Revenue in the fourth quarter was $106,600,000, a two-year high, with operating income on a GAAP basis of $10,400,000. Operating income, ex-items, was $16,900,000, yielding operating margins, ex-items, of 16%, up slightly when compared to operating margins posted in the third quarter of 2018 and comparable to operating margins posted in the fourth quarter of 2017.
International industry activity has been effectively flat year-over-year through the fourth quarter of 2018. In addition to the muted activity in international markets, the Gulf of Mexico ("GOM") and other deepwater provinces have also been slow to recover. However, Core is encouraged by the continued increase in client conversations regarding new international and offshore projects for 2019 and beyond. Final Investment Decisions ("FIDs") related to upstream projects continue to be approved, with approximately 25 in 2017 and 30 in 2018. However, the pace at which these projects are progressing after approval has been slower than in previous recovery cycles.
The analytical program for Core Lab's Unconventional Enhanced Oil Recovery ("EOR") Joint Industry Project ("JIP") in the Permian Basin, announced in the third quarter of 2018, has begun. This study is focused on incremental oil recovery from cyclic engineered-gas injection in the Wolfcamp Formation in both the Midland and Delaware Basins. The Permian Basin EOR JIP follows two highly successful Core Lab JIPs in the Midland and Delaware Basins, which were conducted for over 75 operators. Those earlier studies focused on the geological and petrophysical properties of target reservoir horizons, and therefore provide a critical foundation for the recently initiated Unconventional EOR JIP in the Wolfcamp Formation. Due to steep decline curves and low recovery factors in these nano-darcy rocks, there is a necessity to assess the effectiveness of enhanced oil recovery techniques. The technological and analytical methodologies used in this new Unconventional EOR JIP are the summation of years of proprietary experience in unconventional EOR testing, and in providing analytical data sets to operators to help them optimize their reservoirs.
Production Enhancement operations, largely focused on complex completions in unconventional tight-oil reservoirs in the U.S. and conventional offshore development projects, posted fourth quarter 2018 revenue of $66,700,000, up 2% year-over-year. GAAP operating income was $7,700,000, while operating income, ex-items, was $11,600,000 and operating margins, ex-items, were over 17%. Production Enhancement performance was affected by a slow-down in U.S. onshore completion activity in the fourth quarter of 2018.
For the past five years, Core has been working closely with a major E&P company to help optimize their Bakken and Three Forks completions in terms of production and completion efficiency. Early on, this
operator tested sliding sleeve completion designs, but continued to compare their sliding sleeve completions with plug & perf completions. By utilizing Core’s SpectraStimTM tracing and SpectraScan® well diagnostic services, the operator was able to demonstrate more consistent formation entry and improved efficiencies using a higher number of perf clusters as compared to sliding sleeve methods. Most recently, Core’s well diagnostics have demonstrated that the operator could also optimize their frac stage lengths without sacrificing cluster treatment efficiencies and stimulated reservoir volumes. These data sets also help to clarify well performance metrics, and lower completion costs, by allowing the operator to reduce the number of frac stages by approximately 25% to 40% when using the plug & perf technique compared to sliding sleeve. In a recent statement, the operator reported that this process of moving away from sliding sleeves and to plug & perf completions in the Bakken has helped reduce costs by approximately 60%, while generating a 15 to 20% improvement in well production performance over the first 180 days.
The integration of Guardian Global Technologies into Core’s Production Enhancement business segment is well underway. The Production Enhancement team is sharply focused on proprietary downhole energetic solutions designed to systemize, simplify, automate, and de-risk the deployment of the perforating system. As part of the integration, Core began the introduction of the new preassembled GoGunTM Adaptive Perforating System in the fourth quarter of 2018. This system combines Guardian’s best-in-class patented addressable Select Fire Switch (SFS)TM technology with Core’s proprietary energetics into a prewired, integrated perforating system. The GoGunTM is an “open architecture” system that gives the operator enhanced flexibility in completion designs for wellsite efficiency and reservoir performance.
With the acquisition of Guardian Global Technologies, Core has introduced the Guardian Ballistics Delivery System (BDS)TM, an advanced wellbore communication system driven by client demand. When combined with Core’s differentiated perforating systems and energetics, Core now provides the industry with the only total perforating solution. The BDS, combined with Core’s variety of technologically advanced energetic products, will assist Core’s clients in optimizing the downhole tool-string for each perforating operation. As a result, clients will be able to better manage the outcome of their investment with faster and safer operations, while also reducing the risk of unplanned downhole events. The BDS communication protocols automatically detect which products are present in the tool-string and can be configured for the client’s desired downhole communication requirements.
Utilizing the advanced BDS, the new preassembled GoGunTM and Core Lab's proprietary energetics, such as HERO®PerFRAC, allows the operator to optimize wellsite efficiency, perforating accuracy and reliability. Core's patented and proprietary energetics and perforating systems now lead the market offerings for ultra-high-end completions in unconventional reservoirs. Together with Guardian Global Technologies, Core now provides technology across the entire completion string, from the cable head to the bridge plug, in a way not currently offered by other oilfield service providers. Core Lab expects Guardian’s addressable downhole capabilities, combined with Core’s proprietary perforating systems and energetics, to lead to the introduction of differentiated and market-disruptive perforating technologies in 2019 and beyond, expanding its participation in the multi-billion dollar perforating market.
Free Cash Flow, Dividends and Share Repurchases
During the fourth quarter of 2018, Core continued to generate FCF, with cash from operations of $37,900,000 and capital expenditures of $5,700,000, yielding FCF of $32,200,000, representing more than 152% of income from continuing operations, ex-items. This free cash was returned to Core’s shareholders via the Company’s regular quarterly dividend and share repurchases, with the remainder used to reduce debt. Core continues its commitment to investment for growth and generating FCF that is returned to shareholders via the Company’s regular quarterly dividend and opportunistic share repurchases. During the quarter, Core repurchased 42,991 shares at an average share price of $62.21.
For the fiscal year 2018, capex spending was held below $21,800,000, commensurate with Core’s longstanding tradition of aligning capital discipline with market conditions. For the past three years, Core’s capex program has totaled approximately $52,000,000, well below historical levels and significantly below the Company’s total depreciation and amortization of approximately $75,000,000 over the same period. Core’s strict capital discipline and asset-light business model continue to be demonstrated as the capital investments over this time period are less than 3% of revenue.
On 9 October 2018, the Board announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.55 per share of common stock, which was paid on 20 November 2018 to shareholders of record on 19 October 2018. Dutch withholding tax was deducted from the dividend at a rate of 15%.
On 15 January 2019, the Board announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.55 per share of common stock, payable in the first quarter of 2019. The quarterly cash dividend will be payable on 15 February 2019 to shareholders of record on 25 January 2019. Dutch withholding tax will be deducted from the dividend at a rate of 15%.
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