UPDATE 1-Nabors operating profit dips on weak U.S. operations

Tue Feb 18, 2014 5:29pm EST

Feb 18 (Reuters) - Oilfield services and drilling company Nabors Industries Ltd posted a slight drop in operating profit on Tuesday, due in part to weak operations in the United States.

Nabors, which owns the world's largest land-drilling rig fleet as well as pressure-pumping equipment for hydraulic fracturing, and peers have felt pricing pressure onshore in the United States, where demand is only starting to rebound due to rising natural gas prices.

"The strength of our fourth-quarter results reflects building momentum in our international operations and a more favorable outlook for our U.S. drilling operations," Nabors' chief executive, Tony Petrello, said in a statement.

Last year should represent "the low point in Nabors' protracted five-year tough," Petrello said, adding that he sees "substantial, year-over year quarterly improvement" in results starting next quarter.

While the company's international rig count was flat in the fourth quarter, Nabors was able to boost margins due to lower costs to move rigs and other items.

Nabors posted fourth-quarter net income of $150.6 million, or 50 cents per share, compared with $27.1 million, or 9 cents per share, in the year-ago period. The jump was mainly due to a year-ago loss on discontinued operations.

Income from continuing operations fell 2 percent to $128.5 million.

Revenue rose less than 1 percent to $1.6 billion. Analysts expected revenue of $1.54 billion.

Shares of Nabors rose 2.6 percent to $19.15 in after-hours trading on Tuesday.

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