Halliburton warns of weakness in N. America, international operations



21 April 2015 – Halliburton Co warned of pricing pressure for its oilfield services in North America, its largest market, and challenges in its international operations, as an extended slump in oil prices continues to force drillers to slash spending. The company posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit on Monday, helped by higher revenue and operating income from Latin America, the Middle East and Asia. However, revenue and profit from all other regions fell due to the global slump in oil prices , which have nearly halved since peaking last June.

North America, which accounted for more than half the company’s first-quarter revenue, “experienced an unprecedented decline in drilling activity,” Chief Executive Dave Lesar said in a statement, adding that “Industry prospects will continue to be challenged in the coming quarters.”

The average U.S. rig count has fallen about 40 percent since June and was at 1,110 in March, according to Baker Hughes Inc’s closely watched survey.

Halliburton agreed to buy Baker Hughes for $35 billion last November, a deal aimed at helping both companies weather the slump in oil and resist pressure from oil producers to slash prices. Halliburton said earlier this month that it would sell three businesses to help get regulatory clearance for the deal.

The merger is expected to generate annual savings of about $2 billion. Together, Halliburton and Baker Hughes are also cutting more than 13,000 jobs to rein in costs.

Industry leader Schlumberger Ltd, which is shedding about 15 percent of its workforce, or 20,000 jobs, also reported a better-than-expected profit last week.

Excluding $1.21 billion in charges related to asset writedowns and other items, Halliburton earned 49 cents per share, above the average analyst estimate of 37 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. The charges led the company to a quarterly loss compared with a year-earlier profit.

Analysts covering the stock have cut their first-quarter earnings estimate for Halliburton by over a third in the past month. Revenue fell 4 percent to $7.05 billion in the quarter ended March 31, but beat analysts’ average expectation of $6.96 billion.

Revenue from Middle East and Asia rose more than 13 percent, while revenue from Latin America rose 10.5 percent. Halliburton’s shares, which have fallen nearly a third since June, closed at $46.89 on the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.
The stock was up marginally in premarket trade.
*Shubhankar Chakravorty, Simon Jennings – Reuters

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