Halliburton books $1.1 billion charge in low price outlook

Earnings

A Halliburton oil well fielder works on a well head at a fracking rig site January 27, 2016 near Stillwater, Oklahoma.

J. Pat Carter | Getty Images

Leading fracking firm Halliburton reported a $1 billion first-quarter loss and $1.1 billion in impairment charges on Monday as it gave a bleak outlook for North American oilfields after the coronavirus-driven oil price decline.

Prices have collapsed some 80% since January to levels well below many shale drillers’ cost of production as the spread of coronavirus and associated lockdown measures crushed oil demand.

Benchmark U.S. crude futures were trading at below $12 a barrel on Monday, while Halliburton’s shares, which are down 70% so far in 2020, were down 7.6% in pre-market trading at $7.

Last week, larger rival Schlumberger cut its dividend and recorded an $8.5 billion charge in the first quarter from writing down assets, while Baker Hughes said it will take a $1.5 billion charge, write down the value of its oilfield business and slash spending by 20% in 2020.

Halliburton, which generates most of its business in North America, booked $1.1 billion in pre-tax impairments and other charges, mostly relating to the value of its pressure pumping assets. It posted a 25% drop in revenue from the region to $2.46 billion, while international revenue rose 5% to $2.58 billion.

“For the remainder of 2020, the Company expects a further decline in revenue and profitability, particularly in North America,” Halliburton’s Chief Executive Jeff Miller said.

The company said it was also facing challenges related to coronavirus lockdown measures, including logistical problems from border closures and travel restrictions that have prevented the company from accessing certain facilities and sites, as well as inefficiencies from stay-at-home work arrangements.

It said it would cut capital expenditure for the year to $800 million and reduce overheads and other costs by about $1 billion. The company has already laid off hundreds of staff and furloughed thousands, while its executive team has announced voluntarily pay cuts.

Halliburton reported a net loss of $1.02 billion, or $1.16 per share, in the first quarter, compared with a profit of $152 million, or 17 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding charges, Halliburton earned 31 cents per share, beating Wall Street estimates of 24 cents per share, I/B/E/S data from Refinitiv showed.

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