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Core Lab Reports Fourth Quarter 2019 Results From Continuing Operations:

Core Laboratories N.V. logo (PRNewsFoto/Core Laboratories N.V.)


- GAAP EPS OF $0.23 ; $0.38 , EX-ITEMS





AMSTERDAM , Jan. 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 2019 revenue of $156,800,000 .  Core's operating income was $21,100,000 , with earnings per diluted share ("EPS") of $0.23 , all in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"); operating income, ex-items, a non-GAAP financial measure, was $25,000,000 , yielding operating margins of 16% and EPS, ex-items, of $0.38 .  A full reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures is 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, factors that have high correlation to maximizing total shareholder return.  Core's asset-light business model and capital discipline promote capital efficiency and are designed to produce more predictable and superior long-term ROIC.   Bloomberg's calculations using the latest comparable data available indicate that Core's ROIC of 20.2% is the highest of the oilfield service companies listed as Core's Comp Group by Bloomberg.

Segment Highlights

Core Laboratories reports results under two operating segments: Reservoir Description and Production Enhancement.  During the fourth quarter of 2019, as part of the Company's ongoing efforts to streamline operating structures and business reporting lines, Core continued advancing its cost reduction plan and recognized associated costs of $2,600,000 , which are excluded from the following segment highlights.  This plan seeks to position Core Lab to perform at maximum efficiency while adapting to changes in North American market conditions. 

Reservoir Description

Reservoir Description revenue in the fourth quarter of 2019 was $102,600,000 .  The 6% sequential revenue decline, as compared to the third quarter of 2019, was attributed to slower than expected progression on international projects and a steep decline in U.S. activity during the fourth quarter of 2019.  However, international revenue for Reservoir Description was up 7% in 2019 for the full-year, when excluding the divestiture of a non-strategic international operation in early 2019.  Operating income for the fourth quarter of 2019 on a GAAP basis was $14,200,000, while operating income, ex-items, was $17,000,000 , yielding operating margins, ex-items, of 17%, despite a sequential decline in client activity.

Reservoir Description operations are heavily exposed to international and offshore activity levels, with approximately 80% of its revenue sourced from outside of the U.S., where core, reservoir fluid and derived product samples originate from international projects.  Core conducted services for both newly developed fields and brownfield extensions in offshore areas such as: Australia , Brazil , Guyana , Suriname, the Gulf of Mexico , the Middle East and offshore North America .  These analytical programs provide accurate, comprehensive datasets of rock and hydrocarbon properties that are critical for optimizing reservoir appraisal, development and production.

In the fourth quarter of 2019, Core Lab, under the direction of Apache Corporation, initiated wellsite and laboratory analytical programs to determine the properties of rotary sidewall core samples and reservoir fluids from the Maka Central-1 well offshore Suriname.  Core Lab is pleased to be assisting the technical experts at Apache Corporation in this important offshore discovery.

Also during the fourth quarter of 2019, Core conducted Fit-For-Reservoir TM core and fluid analytical programs for an operator working on Alaska's North Slope.  Core Lab's Anchorage facility provided proprietary Non-Invasive Technologies for Reservoir Optimization SM ("NITRO SM ") services, employing quick turn-around, non-invasive techniques.  Digital Rock Characterization ("DRC"), one of the NITRO SM technologies, provided the client with data on reservoir quality, lithologic variations, pay-zone heterogeneities, porosity and permeability, along with other rock parameters.  Initial data sets were delivered to the client within 48 hours from the time the rock samples arrived at Core's Anchorage facility.  This allowed the client to utilize the datasets for both initial field drilling and future development decisions.  DRC delivers a volumetric reconstruction of the core, allowing the end-user to visualize the recovered strata in three dimensional images.  Moreover, Core leveraged its proprietary database of physically-measured laboratory data to quickly generate modeled petrophysical parameters on the new core.  In addition, Continuous Scanning X-Ray Fluorescence ("CS-XRF"), another non-invasive technology, provided high-resolution elemental data.  Using proprietary Core Lab methods, these elemental data are then converted to mineralogy on a millimeter-scale along the full length of the cored interval.  The combination of Core Lab's proprietary DRC, CS-XRF and other non-invasive technologies yields results that are unmatched in the industry.  NITRO SM is becoming a staple technology in characterizing both unconventional and conventional reservoirs.  These cores from Alaska are now processing through the traditional program of physical laboratory measurements.

Production Enhancement

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 2019 revenue of $54,200,000 , down 15%, sequentially.  Fourth quarter performance was impacted by a steep sequential decline in U.S. onshore well completion activity, which declined over 20%, as estimated by Rystad data and other sources.  Operating income on a GAAP basis was $6,600,000 , while operating income, ex-items, was $7,500,000 , which yielded operating margins of 14%.  However, due to cost controls enacted in the fourth quarter, Production Enhancement decremental margin performance was in line with expectations.

Core Lab, a technological leader in the design of efficient and effective high-end energetic systems, continues its focus on the expansion of GoGun TM production to meet client demand.  Core continues its investments into cutting edge manufacturing technologies to maximize efficiencies in GoGun TM production as demand grows.  In addition, during the fourth quarter of 2019, the recently introduced ReFRAC TM product line has experienced increasing client acceptance.  The ReFRAC TM technology is utilized in mechanically isolated re-stimulation programs where an internal string is used to isolate older, depleted stages in previously under-stimulated wells.  The first-to-market ReFRAC TM technology creates a consistent hole size through two strings of casing.  This re-completion method is gaining popularity because it allows operators to perforate, pump and stimulate new reservoir rock between the original stages of the well and increase hydrocarbon recovery without the expense of drilling and completing a new well.  Operators using Core's ReFRAC TM technology have reported they can now complete twice as many stages per day compared to conventional perforating systems, reducing their operating costs and improving cash flow.

Also in the fourth quarter of 2019, field trials were successfully completed in preparation for the full commercial release of Core's innovative Pulse Wave TM system, another technology focused on recompletion of existing wells.  Combining proprietary propellants with Core's other patented high-end energetic products, the Pulse Wave TM technology facilitates recompletion programs when standard plug and perf methods are not an option due to pre-existing perforations in the well.  The Pulse Wave TM system uses a unique energy transfer technology to trigger multiple perforating guns with high reliability and reduced hardware requirements.  During field trials, the Pulse Wave TM technology achieved a 100% success rate across multiple stages on a dozen wells, potentially saving clients significant operating time and costs in the Permian Basin, Bakken, and Barnett plays.  

Core's diagnostic technology services continue to demonstrate value in offshore completions.  Core was initially engaged to perform completion diagnostic services on a deepwater well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2017.   SpectraStim", SpectraScan ® , and PackScan ® imaging technologies were deployed on Miocene strata to evaluate the sand control completion program in this offshore well.  When the initial work identified voids in the gravel pack, Core was able to advise the client on a remediation plan.  Following remediation, the interval was re-scanned, and Core verified that the voids were eliminated.  Core's assistance reduced the risk of potentially costly damage to the production tubing and equipment.  During the fourth quarter of 2019, Core Lab was reengaged to deploy PackScan ® in the same well to determine the current integrity of the gravel pack after two years of production.  The objective was to identify the location of produced proppant and formation solids.  While these results are currently under evaluation, it demonstrates how Core Lab's completion diagnostics can also be used to assess the stability of a sand control program over time.

Free Cash Flow, Dividends and Share Repurchases

During the fourth quarter of 2019, Core continued to generate FCF, with cash from operations of $21,300,000 and capital expenditures of $4,700,000 , yielding FCF of $16,600,000

The fourth quarter of 2019 also marks the 73 rd consecutive quarter that the Company generated positive FCF. Core's fourth quarter 2019 free cash was returned to Core's shareholders via the Company's regular quarterly dividend.   As announced on 30 December 2019 , Core's Board of Supervisory Directors approved a plan to reduce the Company's future quarterly dividends to $0.25 per share beginning in the first quarter of 2020.  While the Company will continue to monitor and implement operating efficiencies and cost reductions, Core believes reducing future quarterly dividends will preserve Core's strong balance sheet.  Based upon a quarterly dividend of $0.25 per share and the number of shares outstanding as of 31 December 2019 , the annual dividend distribution would approximate $44 million .  For the 2019 full year, and after funding its 2019 capex program, the Company generated $67 million of FCF, or $23 million of FCF in excess of the planned future annual dividend distribution.  This provides additional flexibility in the Company's capital allocation policy.  Core continues to generate significant levels of FCF, which will be returned to shareholders via the Company's regular quarterly dividend and opportunistic share repurchases, as well as to manage the Company's level of outstanding debt.

In January 2020 , Core reinitiated its share repurchase program, buying 20,000 shares at an average share price of $40.17 .  Core anticipates additional share repurchases during the first quarter of 2020, while also reducing levels of debt on its outstanding revolving credit facility.

On 8 October 2019 , the Board announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.55 per share of common stock, which was paid on 19 November 2019 to shareholders of record on 18 October 2019.  Dutch withholding tax was deducted from the dividend at a rate of 15%.

On 14 January 2020 , the Board announced a quarterly cash dividend of $0.25 per share of common stock, payable on 14 February 2020 to shareholders of record on 24 January 2020 .  Dutch withholding tax will be deducted from the dividend at a rate of 15%.

Return On Invested Capital

Core Lab's ROIC of 20.2% is the highest of the peer group compiled and reported by Bloomberg.  The Company's Board has established an internal performance metric of achieving a leading relative ROIC performance compared with the oilfield service companies listed as Core's Comp Group by Bloomberg.  The Company and its Board believe that ROIC is a leading long-term performance metric used by shareholders to determine the relative investment value of publicly-traded companies.  Further, the Company and its Board believe that shareholders will benefit if Core consistently performs at high levels of ROIC relative to its Comp Group.  Core Lab's commitment to capital stewardship is driven in part by the Company's continuing philosophy of having a low capital-intensive business, averaging less than 4% of Company revenues.

According to the latest Comp Group financial information from Bloomberg, Core's ROIC is the highest of any comparably-sized oilfield service company (greater than $1.5 billion market capitalization).  Comp Group companies listed by Bloomberg include: Halliburton, Schlumberger, National Oilwell Varco, Baker Hughes, TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company, Wood (formerly known as "The Wood Group"), and Apergy, among others.  Core Lab is one of only three of the 18 companies listed in the Comp Group posting ROIC that exceeded their Weighted Average Cost of Capital ("WACC").  Core's ratio of ROIC to WACC is the highest of any company in the Comp Group.

Environmental, Social and Governance

On 14 November 2019 , Bloomberg announced that Core Lab would be one of the 325 companies, out of over 5,000 publicly-traded companies from 50 industries representing 42 countries and regions, to be included in the 2020 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index ("BGEI").  The BGEI, with its focus on gender equality in the workplace, is yet another metric by which investors can gauge a company's commitment to environmental, social and governance factors across industries.

First Quarter 2020 Revenue and EPS Guidance

Consistent with the initial guidance provided on 30 December 2019 , Core projects consolidated first quarter 2020 revenue of approximately $159,000,000 to $164,000,000 and operating income of approximately $25,000,000 to $27,000,000 , yielding operating margins of approximately 16%.  The Company's EPS for the first quarter of 2020, using an effective tax rate of 20%, is projected to be $0.39 to $0.41 .  Further, the Company will continue to execute on planned opportunities to efficiently align the business with market conditions.

Core Lab's first quarter 2020 guidance is based on projections for the underlying operations and excludes gains or losses in foreign exchange.

Succession Planning Announcements

David Demshur to Retire at End of 2020

David Demshur , after more than 25 years as Core Lab's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, a tenure rarely achieved in any industry, is announcing his plans to retire effective 31 December 2020 .  Mr. Demshur will transition from the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive Officer on 20 May 2020 , coinciding with Core Lab's Annual Shareholders' Meeting.  Mr. Demshur will not seek re-nomination to the Company's Supervisory Board of Directors in 2020.  Mr. Demshur's retirement, at the age of 65, follows more than 40 years of dedicated leadership and innovation at Core Lab.  He led the management buyout of Core Lab in 1994 and its IPO in 1995.  Since the IPO, and under Mr. Demshur's leadership, Core Lab's total shareholder return has consistently outperformed the other members of the Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index in the aggregate. This superior performance was driven by the execution of the Company's long-standing growth strategies and disciplined adherence to the Company's three financial tenets.   Also, during Mr. Demshur's leadership, Core Lab significantly expanded its portfolio of services and products and global business, now operating in more than 50 countries.

Lawrence Bruno to be appointed Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in addition to serving in his current roles as President and Chief Operating Officer

Effective 20 May 2020 , Lawrence Bruno , currently a member of the Company's Board of Supervisory Directors, will succeed David Demshur as the Company's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer in addition to serving in his current roles as President and Chief Operating Officer.  Mr. Bruno holds a Master's degree in geology, has been in the industry for more than 35 years, and with Core Lab for more than 21 years.  As President and Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Bruno has led the Company's global operations for both of its business segments, Reservoir Description and Production Enhancement.  Over the last several years, Mr. Bruno has served as a technical spokesperson for many investor presentations and panels in the oil and gas industry, and has been instrumental in driving the Company's technology innovation that will continue to be a critical strength in the years to come. 

Earnings Call Scheduled

The Company has scheduled a conference call to discuss Core's fourth quarter 2019 earnings announcement.  The call will begin at 7:30 a.m. CST / 2:30 p.m. CET on Thursday , 30 January 2020.  To listen to the call, please go to Core's website at www.corelab.com .

Core Laboratories N.V. is a leading provider of proprietary and patented reservoir description and production enhancement services and products used to optimize petroleum reservoir performance.  The Company has over 70 offices in more than 50 countries and is located in every major oil-producing province in the world. This release, as well as other statements we make, includes forward-looking statements regarding the future revenue, profitability, business strategies and developments of the Company made in reliance upon the safe harbor provisions of Federal securities law.  The Company's outlook is subject to various important cautionary factors, including risks and uncertainties related to the oil and natural gas industry, business conditions, international markets, international political climates and other factors as more fully described in the Company's most recent Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K filed with or furnished to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.  These important factors could cause the Company's actual results to differ materially from those described in these forward-looking statements.  Such statements are based on current expectations of the Company's performance and are subject to a variety of factors, some of which are not under the control of the Company.  Because the information herein is based solely on data currently available, and because it is subject to change as a result of changes in conditions over which the Company has no control or influence, such forward-looking statements should not be viewed as assurance regarding the Company's future performance.  The Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update or revise any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances that may arise after the date of this press release, except as required by law.

Visit the Company's website at www.corelab.com . Connect with Core Lab on Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.




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