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Nabors Shares Slide on Profit Warning

Nabors Industries warned its fourth-quarter earnings would fall short of Wall Street estimates as weakening gas prices cooled demand for its drilling rigs.

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The world's largest land-based oil and gas driller now sees earnings at 95 cents to $1 a share. Analysts, on average, were expecting earnings of $1.11 before one-time items, according to Reuters Estimates.

Nabors expects 2006 earnings to be between $3.53 and $3.58 a share. Analysts, on average, look for $3.70.

Nabors Chief Executive Gene Isenberg said in a statement that a lower level of activity in the company's North American gas markets were the primary factor behind its lowered forecast.

He said a portion of the shortfall is also due to equipment problems in the lower 48 states and weather-related start-up delays in Canada.

In October, Nabors forecast potential softening in the U.S. gas markets as it announced a slightly better-than-expected third-quarter profit.

High gas inventory levels pushed prices to four-year lows in October, prompting some producers to curtail drilling operations in Western Canada and parts of the United States.

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