UPDATE 1-Hunting's profit driven by Gulf of Mexico drilling activity

Thu Aug 28, 2014 3:22am EDT

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Aug 28 (Reuters) - Energy services firm Hunting Plc shrugged off a poor start to the year and posted a 2.6 percent increase in first-half pretax profit, helped by strong demand in the Gulf of Mexico.

Underlying pretax profit rose to $93.9 million for the six months ended June 30, from $91.5 million a year earlier.

Hunting, which provides equipment and services to help extract oil and gas, said revenue rose 4.8 percent to $687.5 million.

Analysts on average had expected a pretax profit of $88.9 million on revenue of $664.5 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

"We leave our forecasts unchanged pro-tem, but, if its Q2 momentum continues into H2, then we could see modest upgrades in due course," brokerage Investec said in a note.

Analysts on average expect full-year pretax profit of $203.8 million on revenue of $1.43 billion.

Hunting had warned on first-quarter performance being hurt by bad weather and project delays in April, but had said it was comfortable with its outlook for the year.

Hunting, which began as a ship-owning firm started by Charles Hunting in 1874, raised its interim dividend by 5.2 percent to 8.1 cents.

Shares in the company rose 2.5 percent to 917 pence in early trade on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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