Halliburton Co, the world’s second-largest oilfield services company, reported a higher quarterly profit as North American sales hit a record high despite major challenges, and its shares rose more than 4 per cent.
Chief Executive Officer David Lesar attributed the company’s strength in North America to new oil drilling activity in the United States. That helped offset a drop in natural gas drilling due to weak US prices, which have fallen to their lowest point in a decade.
Halliburton is the US market leader in pressure pumping, used in hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and gas from shale. New technology has opened up new sources that are likely to keep prices low for years.
Lesar said he expected the downward push on the pricing for hydraulic fracturing to ease up later this year, but said the huge shift of resources out of natural gas basins would weigh on the North American market leader in the near term.
“While these moves are beneficial to us in the long run, they do not come without a short-term impact on our margins,” Lesar said on a conference call with analysts on Wednesday.
Halliburton is moving five more fracking fleets in addition to the eight moved last quarter, he said. Like many smaller rivals, the company is deferring some new deliveries of pressure pumping equipment, which is used in fracking, until next year.
“We believe the (North American) pressure pumping capacity concerns will continue to overhang the stock over the coming several quarters,” UBS analyst Angie Sedita said in a note to investors. “However, it is already reflected in the stock, given the company’s 45 per cent discount to historical valuations.”
Halliburton shares were up 4.5 per cent at $34.13 in midday trading on Wednesday, while global market leader Schlumberger NV was up 0.7 per cent.
Halliburton said its first-quarter profit rose to $627 million, or 68 cents per share, from $511 million, or 56 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items that included a $300 million charge for estimated losses from the BP Plc Gulf of Mexico oil spill two years ago, earnings per share of 89 cents topped the analysts’ average estimate of 85 cents, according to Thomson Reuters.