RBC reinstates with Outperform, target $43
Meanwhile the stock is getting whacked today perhaps in reference yesterday to the Q&A between Barclay's analyst Dave Anderson and CEO Jeff Miller:
So let's just get right into it. Despite the strong numbers you put up in North America this quarter and the guide for second quarter, we kind of firmed up everything. The bear case has been heating up during the quarter with the rig count softening a bit. A&P suggesting pricing is poised to come down. On the other hand, we're hearing from you, other service companies that you don't see this slowdown. In fact, prices continue to rise. I wonder if you help kind of help us start up the disconnect here. Does the difference line to customer mix? I know you highlighted the gas market and particularly weak. Is the differentiation of equipment just a lot of rhetoric keep during the quarter. I'm just wondering how we should be thinking about your U.S. land activity and the pricing trends in the second half.
Yes. Well, thanks, Dave. Look, prices aren't moving down. And I think from our comments, I've told you what we've done and what we plan to do. Overall margin improvement comes from structurally bifurcated market, as you described, demand for high-quality services are very much in demand and hard to deliver. And quite frankly, the cost of the frac hasn't changed. I mean the engines are moving up. There's still inherent inflation in the frac business today. So there's not a connection there. And so as I look out at the rest of the year, we continue to improve the earnings power of our fleet through bifurcation, delivery of these fleets, retirement of -- it needs to be retired, be clear, not stacked, but retired. And then finally, efficiency and sort of repositioning around better pricing.
But pricing in your mind, continues to move higher. And I would assume that pricing from last year still continue to roll through your fleets?
I would say on average. Yes.
And if I could just shift gears over on the international side, your Middle East business doesn't get a ton of credit on the street, despite actually being just as big as kind of 1 of your bigger peers on a relative sense, I was wondering if you could talk about how you see the pace of activity progressing this year in the Middle East. Are you still ramping up on contracts? I think you had kind of alluded to that in your prepared remarks, but what is -- also what is your outlook on tenders in the Middle East this year? And I guess, finally, should we expect to see a lift in D&E margins next year based upon what you're seeing in pricing activity levels this year in the Middle East?
Yes. Look, pricing is improving. And so -- and I would expect D&E margins to improve along with that. I would still argue early innings of activity increase in the Middle East I'm pleased with our growth. So thank you for pointing that out. But I see this continuing rig counts aren't necessarily at near peak. And I think we've got a lot of opportunity to continue to run. And then broadly, international, it's beyond the Middle East, pleased with the growth that we saw in the first quarter. And just a reminder to to everyone that in Q1 of '22, Russia was 2% of our business. And so that's really pretty strong growth.