(Reuters) - Halliburton Co (HAL.N), the world’s second-largest oilfield services company, posted a higher-than-expected quarterly profit as more drillers tapped its expertise in extracting gas from U.S. shale rock.
Despite low natural gas prices, demand for shale energy continues to grow across the United States amid calls for energy independence and a push for cheap supply from the chemical and transportation sectors.
Halliburton shares fell 0.7 percent in premarket trading. Dahlman Rose & Co analyst James Crandell said the strong earnings likely will have “neutral implications” for the shares Monday.
Third-quarter net profit climbed to $683 million, or 74 cents per share, from $544 million, or 60 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding one-time items, Halliburton earned 94 cents per share, topping analysts’ average estimate of 92 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 40 percent to $6.55 billion. Analysts had expected $6.39 billion.
Producers are plowing billions of dollars into developing U.S. oil shale fields, tightening the market for equipment and allowing the services companies to maintain higher prices.
Many analysts expect the North American shale boom to last at least through 2012, even with the weak American economy.
“Despite short-term macroeconomic concerns, I continue to believe in the long-term prospects for our business,” Halliburton Chief Executive Dave Lesar said in a statement.
The company said delays in operations in Iraq and an operational shutdown in Libya during the third quarter hurt results.
Halliburton said profit from operations outside the United States “recovered at the rate we expected” during the quarter.
Three rigs did start operating in Iraq toward the end of the quarter, however. And in Libya, where rebels have ousted ruler Muammar Gaddafi, the company is assessing whether to reopen.
Halliburton has put behind it a major liability attached to former unit KBR Inc (KBR.N), which just settled a five-year dispute over failed bolts on subsea oilfield flow lines off Brazil for $200 million.
Shares of Houston-based Halliburton fell 0.7 percent to $27.48 in premarket trading. The stock has dropped 8.3 percent this year.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder in New York; additional reporting by Braden Reddall in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace