30 asbestos cases settled by Halliburton

Amount isn't disclosed

3 verdicts last year cost it $152 million

May 29, 2002|By BLOOMBERG NEWS

DALLAS - Halliburton Co., the world's second-largest provider of oil field services, has settled 30 asbestos cases in New York for an undisclosed amount.

The settlement includes cases of mesothelioma and lung cancer, Halliburton said yesterday in a statement. The company received numerous inquiries about those cases at a meeting of analysts and investors in Houston last Wednesday, spokesman Cedric Burgher said.

Halliburton shares have tumbled 59 percent in the past year after three asbestos-exposure verdicts totaling $152 million last year sparked concern that such liabilities might push it into bankruptcy, which happened to W.R. Grace & Co. and Kaiser Aluminum Corp. Halliburton faced 292,000 asbestos-related lawsuits as of March 31.

"On the surface, 30 cases is minuscule," said Johnson Rice & Co. analyst Joe Agular, who rates Halliburton "buy" and doesn't own any shares. "The company is just being a little bit more visible in terms of letting investors know when it has some victories to report."

The company resolved about 400 mesothelioma claims in 2000 and 2001 with an average settlement of $12,500 per claim, Burgher said. Halliburton said the amount it will pay to settle the 30 claims is consistent with its "historical averages." The expense will be posted in the second quarter, Burgher said.

Halliburton hired a firm to predict the number of asbestos-related lawsuits that will be filed against it and to estimate potential liabilities. That amount also will be recorded in the second quarter, the company has said.

Halliburton's first-quarter net income fell 80 percent to $22 million because of asbestos expenses and a decline in drilling after energy prices fell.

The company's shares rose 25 cents to $19.35 yesterday.

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