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Halliburton 3Q profit rises, tops Street view

 

DAVID KOENIG, AP Business Writer


DALLAS (AP) — Halliburton Co. boosted its third-quarter net income by 17 percent on strong revenue from its international operations, which offset sluggishness in North America.

But revenue came in below analysts' expectations, and the shares fell 3.5 percent.

Halliburton helps energy producers drill for oil and gas, and it's still seeing too much capacity for pressure-pumping services in North America as oilfield-service companies fight for a bigger share of the shale oil and gas boom. That's driving down prices for contractors like Halliburton.

"We anticipate pricing pressure will continue as contracts renew during the next quarter or so," Chairman and CEO Dave Lesar said on a conference call with analysts. "Accordingly, we are already working on adjusting our cost structure," which he said would include job reductions.

Company officials told analysts that as they learn to operate more efficiently, they found they had too many people for the available work. That doesn't foreshadow a longer slowdown in the business, they said.

They didn't give figures, but said most of the cuts were in North America. In July, the company said it had more than 75,000 employees in about 80 countries. Halliburton took $38 million in charges to cover severance payments and write down asset values in the third quarter.

Houston-based Halliburton also said operations in Colorado continued to be affected by last month's flooding.

The stock fell $1.81 to close at $50.66. The shares ended the day up 46 percent in 2013.

For the three months ended Sept. 30, the Houston-based company earned $706 million, or 79 cents per share. Its earnings were $707 million excluding discontinued operations. A year earlier it earned $602 million, or 65 cents per share.

Excluding restructuring charges, the company earned 83 cents per share from continuing operations, a penny more than analysts expected, according to a survey by FactSet.

Revenue rose 5 percent to $7.47 billion, led by improvement in international operations including Russia, the North Sea and Angola.

In North America, the company's largest region, revenue declined 2 percent as the U.S. land rig count was flat and there was — according to Halliburton — about 20 percent too much service capacity.

Total revenue was below Wall Street's consensus forecast of $7.50 billion.

Lesar said that fourth-quarter revenue and margins in Latin America will be hurt by curtailed activity in Mexico, but he said the company still has a positive outlook for the region.

The company expects profit margins to improve in North America next year as activity expands in the Gulf of Mexico and Halliburton benefits from initiatives that it calls "Battle Red" and "Frac of the Future" — the latter is a reference to hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." That's the process in which chemicals and water are pumped underground at high pressure to break open rock formations and release oil and gas. It has spurred a boom in U.S. production.
 

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