Strong U.S. onshore drilling helped oilfield services company Halliburton Co report a better-than-expected 83 percent jump in quarterly profit, and its shares jumped 3.6 percent.
Halliburton expects land-drilling growth to offset the impact of a U.S. deepwater drilling ban that followed a disastrous blow-out at a BP Plc well in the Gulf of Mexico on which Halliburton did the cement work.
The world's second-largest oilfield services company plans to maintain its overall infrastructure in the Gulf in expectation of activity picking up again, though it is moving some equipment and staff out of the region for now.
I do not believe that the deepwater offshore rigs that were mobilized to international locations during this suspension will return to the Gulf for some time, if at all, Chief Executive David Lesar said on a conference call.
Second-quarter revenue jumped across all regions, with market share gains internationally and North American operations boosted by increased drilling. Operating margins jumped to 17 percent from 12 percent the previous quarter.
Simmons Co analyst Bill Herbert called it an incandescent quarter for the company, especially given the strength overseas in the face of tepid rig count growth.
Kurt Hallead, co-head of energy research at RBC Capital Markets, said the North American growth was exceptional. Clearly it was better than most of us had tended to factor in, he said.
Halliburton expects the six-month deepwater moratorium to trim 2010 earnings per share by 5 to 8 cents per quarter. Analysts had been expecting a profit of $1.44 per share this year, up from $1.27 in 2009, though many now expect estimates to rise due to the unexpectedly strong North American performance.
BY THE NUMBERS
Second-quarter net income rose to $480 million, or 53 cents per share, from $262 million, or 29 cents per share, in the year-earlier period.
Excluding a gain from discontinued operations, the company earned 52 cents per share. By that measure, analysts expected earnings of 37 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue rose 16 percent to $4.4 billion, whereas analysts had expected $4.1 billion.
Halliburton, based in Houston and Dubai, said the Gulf of Mexico disaster and the subsequent deepwater suspension would usher in a new regulatory climate and have a profound impact on how deepwater drilling is performed.
But it repeated that it is indemnified under its contract with BP, so long as BP is able to shoulder the cost.
Even prior to the blowout and moratorium, Halliburton and its rivals had been generally planning for better growth outside North America over the next few years.
Shares of Halliburton rose 99 cents, or 3.6 percent, to $28.50 on the New York Stock Exchange.
As of Friday's close, the stock had been down 17 percent since the April 20 blowout that badly shook much of the oil and gas industry. Shares of larger rival Schlumberger Ltd , which reports results on Friday, were down 16 percent in that time.
Halliburton also competes globally with Switzerland-based Weatherford Ltd , which posts quarterly results on Tuesday, and Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc , reporting on August 3.
Noble Corp , the third-largest offshore rig contractor, will report after the market close on Monday.
(Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in New York and Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Derek Caney)