Halliburton first quarter profit grows 13%


New York – Oilfield services conglomerate Halliburton Co. said Thursday its first-quarter profit rose 13 percent, a boost driven largely by increased business in the Middle East that helped offset lower commodity prices in the United States.

The Houston-based company reported net income of $552 million, or 54 cents a share, compared to $488 million, or 46 cents a share, in the same quarter last year.

But in a conference call with investors this morning, company officials acknowledged that Halliburton is now coping with a weaker market in North America — particularly in Canada, where the company is cutting costs and relocating equipment.

"We'll deal with whatever the market gives us," said Chief Executive Officer Dave Lesar.

Halliburton's first quarter results include earnings from what was Halliburton's 81 percent share of KBR's $28 million in net income for the first quarter. Halliburton has since completed its separation from KBR, an engineering, construction and government contracting giant.

"This quarter marks the start of a new chapter in Halliburton's history, as we completed the separation of KBR," Lesar said in an prepared statement. "We are now completely focused on the global growth opportunities in our energy services business."

Excluding results from former subsidiary KBR Inc., the military contractor that became a stand-alone company earlier this month, Halliburton's income from continuing operations was $529 million, or 52 cents a share – matching the forecast from Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Financial.Revenues totaled $3.4 billion in the period, up nearly 17 percent from $2.9 billion in the first quarter of 2006.

While Halliburton continues to describe Houston as its hometown, Lesar revealed last month that he will relocate to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in a bid to try to foster relations with customers in that part of the world.

Halliburton's revenues from the Middle East grew 20 percent year-over-year, the company said.

And while the company saw revenue declines in all of its international business segments in the first quarter compared with the last three months of 2006, Halliburton continued to see growth in the Middle East, with revenues up 8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2006.