Halliburton Sees Profit Growth On Improved Margins In N. America

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Halliburton forecast a 25% jump in earnings in the current quarter, helped by a recovery in margins in North America and growth in overseas markets.



April 21 (Reuters) - Halliburton Co, the world's No.2 oilfield services provider, expects margins to improve in North America after being depressed for two years as companies step up spending to drill and complete wells.

Halliburton's shares rose as much as 5 percent to a life high after the company forecast a 25 percent jump in earnings in the current quarter, in line with market expectations.

"I am more excited about North America now than I have been since late 2011," Halliburton Chief Executive Dave Lesar said on a conference call with analysts on Monday.

"Supportive commodity prices today are translating into stronger cash flow in operating budgets for our customers...," he said.

Rivals Schlumberger Ltd and Baker Hughes Inc also spoke of improved markets in North America after posting better-than-expected quarterly profits on Thursday.

Weak natural gas prices had dragged down drilling activity in North America, intensifying competition among oilfield services providers for a smaller number of contracts.

Halliburton, which also reported better-than-expected results, said excess capacity in hydraulic fracking equipment used in shale fields had tightened much faster than expected, at least in Texas's Permian Basin.

"We don't think we'll have any problem filling our frac calendar through the end of the year," Lesar said on the call.

The company said the tightening could also help it get bigger jobs and pass on some increased prices to customers.


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