Oilfield services company Hallliburton says it looks like the energy sector is starting to turn the corner and profits are returning for industry players. File photo by Gary C. Caskey/UPI | License Photo
HOUSTON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- Oilfield services company Halliburton said Wednesday it turned a profit after a downturn in the industry characterized by its CEO as devastating.
Halliburton said its cash flow topped $1 billion. In total, profit attributable to the company was $6 million, compared with a loss last year of $54 million. Total revenue, however, dropped more than 30 percent.
All told, Chairman and CEO Dave Lesar said results for the third quarter were a resounding success.
"I am pleased with our third quarter results given the devastation our industry has faced over the last two years," he said in a statement. "While the recent cycle has provided its fair share of challenges, we out-executed even against the very high expectations we place on our organization."
Lower crude oil prices, which plummeted below $30 per barrel early this year, left energy companies with less capital to invest in exploration and production, a trend reflected in part by lower rig counts early this year. With oil prices holding around $50 per barrel in recent sessions, the sector is recovering somewhat as rig counts have been on a general increase for the latter half of the year.
By July, the company's CEO said the North American energy market had turned the corner following several quarters of weak activity brought on by lower crude oil prices. During the third quarter, Lesar said rig counts had improved across most sectors in North America and profitability was starting to return there.
"In the near term, we remain cautious around fourth quarter customer activity due to holiday and seasonal weather-related downtimes," he said. "However, it does not change our view that things are getting better for us and our customers."
Revenue during the third quarter for North American operations was up 9 percent, relative to a 14 percent increase in the U.S. rig count.
A merger proposed in late 2014 between Baker Hughes and Halliburton was terminated in late April after the U.S. Justice Department said the combination of the two companies would be unprecedented in its "scope of competitive overlaps and antitrust issues."