Rising Rig Count, Cost Cutting Push Halliburton to Surprise Profit

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Halliburton Co. (NYSE: HAL) reported third-quarter 2016 results before markets opened Wednesday. The oil and gas services company posted adjusted diluted earnings per share (EPS) of $0.01 on revenues of $3.83 billion. In the same period a year ago, the company reported EPS of $0.31 on revenues of $3.84 billion. Third-quarter results also compare to the Thomson Reuters consensus estimates for net loss of $0.07 per share and $3.9 billion in revenues.

On a GAAP basis, the firm posted a quarterly net profit of $7 million ($0.01 per share) compared with a net loss of $53 million ($0.06 per share) in the third quarter of 2015. CEO Dave Lesar attributed the surprise profit to increased utilization in North America, cost cutting, and working capital management.

In the quarter North American revenue increased by 9% sequentially as the company posted an operating profit of $58 million, attributed to rising rig counts and cost savings.

The company did not provide detailed guidance in its earnings release, but the fourth-quarter consensus estimates call for a net loss per share of $0.04 on revenues of $4.1 billion. For the full year, the net loss is estimated at $0.18 on revenues of $16 billion.

Lesar said:

As we look forward, we expect an increased commodity price to stimulate rig count growth [in North America]. In the near term, we remain cautious around fourth quarter customer activity due to holiday and seasonal weather-related downtimes. However, it does not change our view that things are getting better for us and our customers. …

For our international business, we believe the seasonal year-end sales will be minimal and customer pricing pressure will continue; however, these will likely be offset by continued cost management. As such, we expect fourth quarter results to come in flat compared to the third quarter.

Globally, we will continue to expand our portfolio in unconventionals, mature fields and deepwater.

Halliburton’s stock closed at $47.07 on Tuesday, up about 1.6% for the day. Shares traded up 0.9% in Wednesday’s premarket session at $47.50. The stock’s 52-week range is $27.64 to $47.96. Thomson Reuters had a consensus 12-month price target of $52.00 before the report.