* Fourth-quarter EPS from continuing operations $0.44 vs
$0.30 last year
* Revenue down 6 percent at $1.63 billion
* Says major customers curtailed spending
* Says rig count bottomed, has begun to increase
Feb 19 Nabors Industries Ltd, the owner
of the world's largest onshore-drilling-rig fleet, reported a 44
percent jump in profit, but revenue fell as its major customers
curtailed spending amid the worst slowdown in gas-directed
drilling in more than a decade.
Oilfield services companies' pricing power has evaporated as
the number of gas-targeted U.S. rigs in operation hovers around
the 13-year low it hit last year, creating a glut in supply.
The company said it faced near suspension of pressure
pumping work, a hydraulic fracturing method to extract oil and
gas from shale rock, in late December that continued into early
North American onshore drilling is likely to remain subdued
this year as oil and gas companies have forecast exploration
budgets in the same range as those of 2012.
"Several major customers with whom we enjoyed an outsized
market share sharply curtailed spending, four of which accounted
for 41 of our 68 rig decrease," Chief Executive Tony Petrello
said in a statement.
However, he said the rig count had recently bottomed and had
begun to increase, and Nabors expects the trend to continue over
the rest of this quarter. "We remain cautious in predicting the
timing and magnitude of activity improvement," Petrello said.
Bermuda-based Nabors has also been under extra scrutiny
since its largest shareholder, Pamplona Capital Management, said
on Jan. 23 it was concerned about the underperformance of Nabors
shares. Pamplona is backed by Russian billionaire Mikhail
Fridman's Alfa Group.
However, the stock has risen sharply since and got a further
boost on Feb. 14 when Goldman Sachs raised Nabors to its
conviction buy list.
Total revenue, including other income, fell 6 percent to
$1.63 billion, below the Wall Street estimate of $1.67 billion.
Net profit from continuing operations was $129.3 million, or
44 cents per share, compared with a loss of $89.5 million, or 30
cents per share, a year earlier.
The company's shares closed at $18 on the New York Stock
Exchange on Tuesday. They have gained 20 percent in the last
month, outpacing the 15 percent growth of the S&P 500 Oil & Gas