UPDATE 1-Baker Hughes profit beats estimates on higher Canadian drilling

Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:51am EDT

* Q1 earnings per share $0.60 vs $0.86 year earlier

* Revenue down 2 pct

* Forecasts modest increase in U.S. rig count for 2013

April 19 (Reuters) - Baker Hughes Inc, the world's third-largest oilfield services provider, reported a higher-than-expected profit and forecast a modest increase in U.S. rig counts for 2013.

The company said higher drilling activity in Canada and a strong pumping business boosted first-quarter margins.

Larger rival Schlumberger Ltd reported a quarterly profit that topped analysts' estimates as robust drilling outside North America made up for a sluggish domestic market.

Excluding a $23 million loss related to Venezuelan currency devaluation, the company earned 65 cents per share, above Wall Street expectations for 62 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue fell 2 percent to $5.23 billion, also due to a temporary slowdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

Net income from continuing operations attributable to Baker Hughes fell to $267 million, or 60 cents per share, from $379 million, or 86 cents per share, a year earlier.

Oilfield services companies have had far less pricing power this year as depressed natural gas prices pushed the number of gas-targeted U.S. rigs to a 14-year low.

Baker Hughes said last month margins at its European operations could thin in the first half of the year as it ramps up an expanded contract in Norway and faces a few delays on UK projects.

Shares of the company, which has a market value of $19.71 billion, closed at $44.03 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

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