Already suffering at the hands of slumping crude prices, oil services exchange traded funds were dealt another blow Wednesday when SeaDrill (NYSE: SDRL) completely cut its $1 per share quarterly dividend.
Shares of SeaDrill are down 21% on volume that is approaching six times the daily average. SeaDrill’s new dividend policy, or lack thereof, will remain in place until at least the end of next year. With oil prices slumping, SeaDrill’s decision appears to be prudent as some analysts believe the move will save the company $2 billion in per year in cash flow.
Still, ETFs such as the Market Vectors Oil Service ETF (NYSEArca: OIH) are not taking the news in stride. Down 23.2% over the past 90 days, officially putting it in a bear market, OIH is off 2.6% today on news of SeaDrill’s dividend suspension. OIH, the largest oil services ETF, allocates 3.8% of its weight to SeaDrill, making the stock the ETF’s tenth-largest holding. [Some Value in Oil Services ETFs]
OIH’s rival, the iShares U.S. Oil Equipment & Services ETF (NYSEArca: IEZ), is lower by 1.7% although that ETF does not hold shares of SeaDrill.
Compounding the problems for oil services ETFs is Transocean (NYSE: RIG), which is down more than 6% today. In recent months, there has been ample speculation that Transocean’s dividend, one that was reinstated due in large part from pressure by financier Carl Icahn, is vulnerable to a cut or outright suspension. [Dividend Speculation Problematic for Oil Services ETFs]
Transocean is OIH’s eighth-largest holding with a weight of 4.4%. Smaller OIH and IEZ holdings, such as Diamond Offshore (NYSE: DO), Ensco (NYSE: ESV) and Noble (NYSE: NE), are also believed to be candidates for dividend cuts or suspensions.
If there is a silver dividend lining for OIH and IEZ it is that the ETFs’ largest holdings have shown themselves to be prodigious dividend growers in recent years.
Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB), the world’s largest oil services provider, has nearly doubled its payout since 2011. Halliburton (NYSE: HAL), Schlumberger’s primary rival, has boosted its dividend by two-thirds since 2012. National Oilwell Varco (NYSE: NOV) has roughly quadrupled its payout in just the past year.
Those three stocks combine for nearly 42% of OIH’s weight and almost 40% of IEZ.
Market Vectors Oil Services ETF