Weatherford International Ltd. reported first quarter 2008 income from continuing operations of $351 million, or $1.01 per diluted share, before non-recurring items. First quarter diluted earnings per share from continuing operations reflect an improvement of 22 percent over the first quarter of 2007 diluted earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.83, before non-recurring items. The non-recurring items in the first quarter of 2008 results include costs incurred in connection with the company's exit from sanctioned countries and related government investigation expense and severance charges associated with reorganization activities.
First quarter revenues were $2,196 million, or 19 percent higher than the same period last year, against a backdrop of a four percent increase in rig count activity. This is the highest level of quarterly revenue in the company's history.
Sequentially, the company's first quarter diluted earnings per share from continuing operations, before non-recurring items, were $0.02 higher than the fourth quarter 2007 diluted earnings per share from continuing operations of $0.99, before non-recurring items.
Revenues for the quarter were $1,090 million. This is an eight percent increase over the same quarter in the prior year, as compared to a one percent rig count increase. Growth in the U.S. rig count was partially offset by a slight drop in the Canadian rig count. Sequentially, revenues increased three percent largely due to the seasonal increase in activity in Canada. The strongest revenue growth was experienced in our wireline, drilling services and completion product lines. Operating income of $292 million was three percent lower than the same quarter in the prior year and 14 percent higher sequentially.
First quarter revenues of $236 million were 15 percent higher than the first quarter of 2007 and eight percent lower than the prior quarter. The sequential decrease was primarily due to project delays in Mexico, Peru, and Ecuador. Wireline remained a standout performer. The current quarter's operating income of $60 million improved 25 percent as compared to the same quarter in the prior year and was five percent lower when compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.
First quarter revenues of $348 million were 42 percent higher than the first quarter of 2007 and one percent higher than the prior quarter. Strong performances in Russia and West Africa were offset by weather and activity related declines in the North Sea. This region had the strongest growth in the well construction, drilling tools and re-entry & fishing product lines. The current quarter's operating income of $93 million improved 69 percent as compared to the same quarter in the prior year and three percent sequentially.
Middle East/North Africa/Asia
First quarter revenues of $522 million were 32 percent higher than the first quarter of 2007 and three percent lower than the prior quarter. Start-ups, as well as an extended shut down of operations in Australia, accounted for the sequential decline. This region's performance reflected improvements in well construction, drilling services, and stimulation & chemicals product lines. The current quarter's operating income of $121 million improved 45 percent as compared to the same quarter in the prior year and decreased nine percent as compared to the prior quarter.
The company is disposing of its non-core oil and gas development and production business. The results of operations of this business for the current and prior periods are reflected as discontinued operations, net of taxes. For the three months ended March 31, 2008, the loss per diluted share from discontinued operations was $0.06, due primarily to the settlement of a legal dispute regarding the business.
The company's board of directors has declared a two-for-one share split of Weatherford's common shares, to be effected through a dividend of one common share for each Weatherford common share outstanding. Shareholders of record on May 9, 2008 will be entitled to one additional common share for each common share held on that date. The share dividend will be payable on May 23, 2008 and will be distributed by our transfer agent, American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, after that date.
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