Halliburton says disruptions could hit earnings this year

 
City A.M. Reporter
HALLIBURTON yesterday warned that its response to a deep slump in US natural gas prices would cause disruptions that will pinch first-quarter earnings, sending its shares falling.

The world’s second-largest oilfield services company posted a higher-than-expected fourth-quarter profit and gave a fairly upbeat outlook for 2012, but investors remain worried about what wider US drilling trends will mean for the US market leader.

Costs are rising and the industry is shifting away from dry gas toward oil and natural gas liquids resources.

Eight of its hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – crews would complete moves to liquids-rich basins this quarter, Halliburton said.

Chief executive Dave Lesar, addressing a persistent concern that has weighed on Halliburton shares, said the idea that North American profit margins would collapse this year was “ridiculous”.

Overall, Halliburton’s fourth-quarter profit rose to $907m (£582m) from $607m a year ago.

Revenue rose 38 per cent to $7.1bn.