Halliburton Buried as Investors Stop Believing

A $30 million asbestos verdict sends its shares to a nine-year low.
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shares dove to nine-year lows Friday as investors lost faith in the company's claims that asbestos litigation would never catch up with it.

Shares of the Houston-based oilfield services company fell $8.11, or 38%, to $12.74, after a Baltimore jury ordered it to pay $30 million to plaintiffs who claimed they developed cancer after being exposed to products made by a unit of Halliburton's Dresser Industries. The unit, Harbison-Walker, was spun off by Dresser in 1992.

The news exacerbated investor skepticism that Halliburton would be able to escape the asbestos claims without meaningful harm to its financial position, something it had claimed in filings as recently as last month.

In a

Securities and Exchange Commission

filing earlier this week, Halliburton disclosed that a court in Orange, Texas, entered judgments on jury awards totaling $100.7 million against Dresser in two suits, while a Mississippi jury ordered $21 million in damages against the unit.

Halliburton will challenge the Baltimore verdict in post-trial motions and appeal it if necessary.