Geospace Technologies' Earnings Struggle as Oil and Gas Spending Remains Low

By Markets Fool.com

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Geospace Technologies (NASDAQ: GEOS) has been one of the most acutely impacted businesses in the oil and gas industry. Exploration spending -- the biggest source of revenue for Geospace -- was one of the first things to be cut from producer budgets, and it remains low as oil prices haven't given anyone much incentive to go out and find more oil today. With that in mind, let's take a look at the company's most recent results and what we can expect in the coming quarters.

Geospace Technologies' results: The raw numbers

Results* Q3 2016 Q2 2016 Q3 2015
Revenue $17.7 $14.9 $19.8
EBITDA ($7.1) ($8.5) ($7.8)
Net income ($11.7) ($10.9) ($8.6)
Earnings per share ($0.89) ($0.84) ($0.66)

* In millions, except per-share data. Data sources: Geospace Technologies earnings release and S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Geospace has continually lost money for some time, but management has so far been able to mitigate the damage by maintaining a solid balance sheet. This was also the case this past quarter as the company has no long-term debt, $9.5 million in accounts payable and accrued expenses, and $38 million in cash and short-term investments. This should be enough to keep it sustained for a while longer.

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What happened with Geospace Technologies this past quarter?

  • This was the second straight quarter of increasing sales. The biggest gains came from Geospace's non-seismic business and its wireless seismic program. The gains from its wireless segment were thanks to an OBX contract it signed last October and contributed $4.1 million to the top line. Management expects to fulfill this contract by the end of next quarter.
  • Continuing on a recent theme, the non-seismic business segment continues to increase revenue and become an important point of sales that has helped to keep the lights on. Non-seismic revenue for the quarter was $8.0 million and is now 45% of all sales. A year and a half ago, this segment was so small that its results weren't even reported.
  • Management's outlook for its non-seismic segment remains very restrained as it doesn't expect a pickup in business anytime soon. Offshore exploration activity remains affected by spending cuts and delayed investments, and that impacts the bottom line.

What management had to say

CEO Rick Wheeler was very muted in his outlook for the offshore drilling industry this past quarter, and that translates to what he sees as another few quarters of tough times ahead for Geospace Technologies:

[T]here are no strong market indicators in the current environment for this to change right away. In light of such decreased seismic industry activity, the number of opportunities for seismic service contractors our customers is scarce. With so few seismic projects under way, many of which are smaller in scope, crew counts and asset utilization have fallen tremendously. This has created a surplus of available seismic equipment which in turn has all but eliminated immediate demand for our seismic instruments and related products. As a result, fiscal year 2016 is proving to be perhaps the most commercially challenging year in our company's history. Nonetheless, we firmly believe that in order for the oil and gas industry to continue supplying the world's growing energy needs, seismic exploration for new reserves and seismic imaging to characterize existing reserves will have to resume. Our products are known to accomplish these activities in the most proven and cost effective ways.

10-second takeaway

As tough as earnings have been for the past several quarters, Geospace Technologies'balance sheet has held up remarkably well. It remains debt-free with enough cash to cover operational shortfalls for a while. The bad news is that management doesn't think things will get much better anytime soon. So anyone expecting its prospects to turn around may have a longer wait.

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Tyler Crowe has no position in any stocks mentioned.You can follow him at Fool.comor on Twitter@TylerCroweFool.

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