For the most recent quarter, the company chalked up net income of $605 million, or $0.66 per share, compared with $243 million, or $0.27 a share in the fourth quarter of 2009. Beyond that, excluding a charge in the most recent quarter, the per-share number was $0.68, thereby beating the consensus expectation of $0.63 from the analysts who follow the company.
As such, the company followed industry leader Schlumberger
Halliburton's significant improvements were largely the result of further strengthening in North America, where a continued market improvement -- based upon higher activity levels in the unconventional natural gas and oil plays -- more than made up for the halt in activity in the deepwater Gulf of Mexico. The company's revenue and operating income both increased by 10% from the third quarter, despite just a 4% growth in the U.S. rig count.
But, as Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar also noted, "I am very pleased with our results on the international front. Key markets including Norway, West Africa, Iraq, and Algeria experienced increased activity." He further said that, despite a continuation of competitive pricing, the company profited from the "typical year-end impact of software and direct sales."
Regarding Halliburton's two operating segments, completion and production saw its operating income increase sequentially by 13%, based largely on results in North America and Africa. The drilling and evaluation segment expanded 31% sequentially -- or 10% excluding an impairment charge in the third quarter. While operating income for the segment was flat in North America, due to events in the Gulf of Mexico, activity in other areas of the world more than compensated for the situation in the Gulf.
As to this year -- and despite lingering question marks regarding Gulf activity -- Lesar said, "Looking into 2011, operators in North America continue to make the exploitation of unconventional resources the focus of their investment. Development of these resources requires expansive well programs resulting in longer-term contracting arrangements."