Patterson-UTI 3Q net falls on slow rig demand

HOUSTON -- Oil and natural gas driller Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. said Thursday that its third-quarter net income fell almost 38 percent as demand fell for drilling rigs in the U.S.

The company earned $50.8 million, or 33 cents per share, for the quarter that ended Sept. 30. That's down from $81.9 million, or 53 cents per share, during the same period last year.

Revenue fell 4.5 percent to $643.6 million.

Special items reduced earnings by 6 cents per share. Analysts, who usually exclude those, expected a profit of 38 cents per share on revenue of $647.8 million, according to FactSet.

CEO Andy Hendricks said U.S. rig demand was soft, and the seasonal recovery in Canada was slower than expected. The average number of rigs operating during the quarter was 216, down from 224 in the second quarter.

Average revenue per operating day fell by $120 to $22,450 compared to the second quarter.

The company has brought in 16 new "Apex" rigs this year and expects to get seven more before the year is done. Patterson-UTI has contracts to operate all but two of those new rigs. It deferred another rig into next year and will balance more rig-building with share repurchases, dividends, and acquisitions.

The company will pay a dividend of 5 cents per share on Dec. 28 to shareholders of record on Dec. 14.

Patterson-UTI shares rose 22 cents to $17.04 in morning trading.