(Reuters) - National Oilwell Varco Inc (NOV.N), the largest U.S. maker of oilfield equipment, reported a higher-than-expected quarterly profit and said strong demand for deepwater rigs would likely drive up orders in the current quarter.
Revenue from National Oilwell's biggest business, supplying technology to rigs, rose 29 percent in the third quarter while revenue from the backlog in the business rose 36 percent to $1.91 billion.
Demand for the company's other products and services continued to grow in international markets, but softened in North America, Chief Executive Pete Miller said.
The number of rigs drilling for natural gas in the United States fell to a 13-year low in the quarter due to weak gas prices stemming from a flood of supply.
National Oilwell, known for being highly acquisitive, said in August it would buy Robbins & Myers Inc RBN.N for $2.54 billion to expand its product line of well tools, pumps and valves.
Third-quarter net profit attributable to shareholders rose to $612 million, or $1.43 per share, from $532 million, or $1.25 per share, a year earlier. Revenue rose 42 percent to $5.3 billion.
Excluding transaction charges, profit was $1.52 per share.
Analysts had expected the company to earn $1.51 per share, on revenue of $5.36 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
National Oilwell shares closed at $76.77 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock has risen 13 percent so far this year, compared with a 2 percent rise for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil service index .OSX.