April 17, 2019 / 6:17 AM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-Hunting's core profit rises, but margins hit at U.S. shale unit

(Corrects dateline)

April 17 (Reuters) - British oilfield services firm Hunting said on Wednesday first-quarter core profit was in line with its goals as U.S. onshore activity remained busy, but warned of competition hurting margins at its shale-focused Titan business.

The FTSE mid-cap company said underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation was about $35 million in the March quarter, in line with its targets and higher than the $32.7 million it reported a year earlier.

But Hunting, which provides equipment to oil and gas companies, said margins dipped for Hunting Titan - the group’s largest reporting segment - as competition intensified with the industry working through excess inventories built up in late 2018.

Oil prices had slipped sharply last year following an October peak, but markets have been tightened this year by U.S. sanctions on exporters Iran and Venezuela, as well as supply cuts by the producer club of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

“In the U.S., results are ahead of expectations, as the Group’s business units benefit from improving demand particularly within onshore completions and capital equipment markets,” Hunting said in a statement.

The company said the outlook for the rest of the year was positive, given the market backdrop of an improved oil prices. (Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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