Halliburton Projects First-Quarter Profit Below Forecasts

Oilfield services company Halliburtonsaid on Tuesday its first-quarter profit will fall below Wall Street estimates due to decreased drilling activity in parts of North America, sending its shares tumbling .

Halliburton estimated first-quarter earnings, excluding items, of about 49 to 54 cents a share.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 59 cents a share, according to Reuters Estimates.

The percentage decline in Halliburton shares marked the stock's biggest slide in about eight months.

Halliburton, which last week said it was moving its chief executive and headquarters to Dubai to capture more overseas business, said the bulk of the shortfall was due to the drop in drilling and completion activity in Canada and the northern United States. Completion is the use of technology to bring a well into production.

Investors have intently focused on North American markets, where a recent slide in natural gas prices has sparked worry about a cutback in exploration spending.

Oil and gas producers have said oil field service costs in North America, which have risen strongly over the past three years, have begun to moderate from their peaks last year, which will cut oil service companies' revenues.

"It does indicate that prices are lower, and probably headed a little lower," Roger Read, analyst with Natexis Bleichroeder in Houston said.

The profit warning from Halliburton pushed the Philadelphia Index of oil service companies almost 2% lower to 204.46.

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