Weatherford Plans to Sell Up To $1B in Assets -Wells Fargo

HOUSTON (Dow Jones Newswires), June 15, 2011

Weatherford plans to sell between $500 million and $1 billion worth of assets, according to analysts with Wells Fargo Securities, who said company officials briefed them on the plan in a recent meeting.

The divestitures would be of "mostly non-oilfield subsidiaries Weatherford has accumulated through its myriad acquisitions over the years," the analysts wrote in a client note.

Weatherford officials were not immediately available to respond to requests for comment.

Shares of Weatherford were up 0.28%, or 5 cents, at $17.66 in midday trading.

In selling the assets, the company's goals "are to free up both capital and managerial attention currently dedicated to these businesses," the analysts wrote.

Oilfield-service profits have risen rapidly from the recession as producers raced to exploit North America's unconventional onshore reserves amidst high oil prices. Weatherford's earnings, however, have lagged behind competitors Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Baker Hughes.

The Wells Fargo analysts said their meeting with Weatherford officials in Houston on Monday was one of several in which the executives are meeting with investors and "working on rebuilding the company's credibility."

In early March, Weatherford disclosed errors in its tax accounting for 2007 through 2010, which forced the company to adjust previously reported earnings. The March 2 disclosure pushed shares, which had been trading near a 52-week high, down 12.6%.

Late last month, in a rare rebuke, shareholders voted against the company's executive compensation plan in an advisory say-on-pay tally.

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