RPC 4Q net income falls 26 pct

ATLANTA (AP) -- RPC saw its fourth-quarter profit tumble 26 percent as oil and gas exploration company cut back on drilling and the oilfield services company saw competition grow tighter.

The Atlanta company still beat Wall Street expectations, which has watched the environment in the energy sector shift rapidly.

RPC earned $55.4 million, or 26 cents per share, down from $74.6 million, or 34 cents per share, in the same quarter last year.

Revenue fell 3 percent to $469.9 million from $482.8 million.

Analysts, on average, expected a profit of 24 cents per share on $459.7 million in revenue, according to FactSet.

RPC attributed the drop in revenue to lower drilling activity and increasingly competitive pricing in most of its service lines. Those factors were partially offset by a larger fleet of revenue-producing equipment, mainly in the company's pressure pumping service line, RPC said.

Also on Wednesday, RPC said that its board approved the increase of its regular quarterly cash dividend to 10 cents from 8 cents. The dividend will be paid on March 8 to shareholders of record as of Feb. 8.