* Q2 EPS ex-items 93 cents vs Wall St view 91 cents
* Revenue up 41 percent to $4.74 bln
* Int‘l margins up again, offset weakness in North America
* Shares down 0.3 pct
* Weatherford reports earnings on Tuesday (Adds analyst comment, Schlumberger estimates rising, byline)
By Braden Reddall
SAN FRANCISCO, July 25 (Reuters) - Oilfield service company Baker Hughes Inc BHI.N posted slightly better-than-expected quarterly earnings, driven by rising profit margins outside North America that offset some weakness closer to home.
North American results were hurt by the usual seasonal slowdown in Canada, where the spring snow melt hampers activity, and as many Gulf of Mexico rigs served by the world’s third-largest oilfield services company remained sidelined.
Baker Hughes shares were down 0.3 percent to $79.67 in early afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Monday.
“Although international revenue and margins beat our expectations, the bar may have been set too high in North America by some of Baker Hughes’ less Canadian-sensitive competitors,” analysts at Raymond James said.
High oil prices have prompted energy producers to boost activity in liquids-rich shale fields in the United States, driving up prices for pressure pumping and other activities.
Baker Hughes had a solid performance outside North America, with profit margins above 13 percent, or more than a percentage point up from last quarter and nearing its 15 percent year-end target. Chief Executive Chad Deaton said more international price rises would kick in over the quarters ahead.
“The momentum is definitely building, there is no doubt about it,” said Deaton, who could see the international margin recovery cap his seven-year stint as CEO when he steps down at the end of the year. [ID:nN28121883]
Second-quarter net profit rose to $338 million, or 77 cents a share, from $93 million, or 23 cents a share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Baker earned 93 cents a share, above the 91 cents that analysts, on average, expected, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue grew 41 percent to $4.74 billion, topping the $4.55 billion analysts expected.
While shares of Houston-based Baker Hughes dipped in afternoon trade, Halliburton rose 0.4 percent. Shares of Schlumberger, which has far more international exposure, added 1.2 percent.
The brightening oilfield outlook beyond the North American shale boom was underlined by analysts increasing estimates and price targets for Schlumberger. Dahlman Rose increased its price target for the industry leader to $124 from $116, while RBC Capital Markets bumped its target up to $113 from $110.
U.S.-traded shares of Weatherford International Ltd WFT.VX(WFT.N), which has aggressively geared up for more international growth, rose 1.5 percent ahead of its quarterly results on Tuesday. (Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco and Krishna N Das in Bangalore; Editing by Matthew Lewis, John Wallace and Tim Dobbyn)