Halliburton profit falls, but in line with market estimates

Reuters

Halliburton Co's third-quarter profit fell in line with analysts' estimates due to the high cost of a key drilling material and a slowdown in North American drilling activity because of low natural gas prices.

The world's second-largest oilfield services company said revenue in North America fell 5 percent from the second quarter, mainly because of weak demand for hydraulic fracturing services but also as a result of disruptions caused by Hurricane Isaac.

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Oilfield services companies have far less pricing power in the United States this year as depressed natural gas prices have reduced the number of rigs targeting gas to a 13-year low.

Halliburton said that although the U.S. oil-directed rig count rose 3 percent from the second quarter, the increase was not enough to offset the 18 percent drop in natural gas rigs.

However, international revenue rose 2 percent from the second quarter despite a decline of 2 percent in the global rig count, mainly as a result of solid sequential growth in its operations in Latin America and the Middle East.

Halliburton's decision to stockpile guar, a key ingredient in hydraulic fracturing fluids, in the second quarter has backfired, as prices have since started to fall.

Net income fell to $604 million, or 65 cents per share, in the third quarter from $685 million, or 74 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 9 percent to $7.1 billion.

Income from continuing operations, on an adjusted basis, was 67 cents per share.

Halliburton shares, which have gained 19 percent in the last three months, were at $34.07 in pre-market trading after closing at $34.56 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco and Swetha Gopinath in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)