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Halliburton posts a loss as oil prices recover from slump

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Halliburton Co reported a fourth-quarter loss as oil prices recover from the worst slump in a generation.

[HOUSTON] Halliburton Co reported a fourth-quarter loss as oil prices recover from the worst slump in a generation.

The world's largest fracking provider posted a net loss of US$149 million, or 17 US cents a share, after losing US$28 million, or 3 US cents a share, a year earlier, according to a statement Monday. Excluding certain items, the profit was 4 US cents a share more than the 2-cent average of 39 analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Customers in the US and Canada boosted the number of oil and natural gas drilling rigs 19 per cent in the final three months of the year. Halliburton, which helps explorers drill, complete and maintain wells, cut thousands of workers during the downturn and has been pressing customers for higher prices in order to return to profitability in North America.

"On the top line, it's pretty well understood that we're in growth mode again, at least for now," Matt Marietta, an analyst at Stephens Inc who rates the shares the equivalent of a buy and owns none, said in a phone interview before the results were released.

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"It's important for the company to show that they can generate profits on the increased activity."

After unprecedented spending cuts over the past two years, explorers are forecast to boost capital expenditures worldwide by seven per cent in 2017, according to a Barclays Plc note to investors earlier this month. The US is expected to lead the rest of the world with as much as a 40 per cent hike in exploration and production spending, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Schlumberger Ltd, the world's largest oilfield services provider, said Friday its fourth-quarter net loss narrowed to US$204 million from US$1.02 billion a year earlier.

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