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Halliburton Shows the Way for Oilfield Services

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The balance of worldwide oil and gas activity levels worked effectively for Halliburton (NYSE: HAL  ) , the second-largest member of the oilfield services contingent, during the first quarter. Despite disruptions in several world locations since January, the company has led off reporting for the services group in encouraging style.

For the quarter, Halliburton posted net income of $511 million, or $0.56 a share, versus $206 million, or $0.23 a share, for the same quarter in 2010. Backing out the $46 million that the rebellion in Libya cost in the quarter, results topped analysts' per-share expectations by $0.03. Revenue rose by 40% in the quarter to $5.28 billion.

North American revenues rose by fully 75%, while the top-line contribution from the international sector grew by 11%. Also, completion and production sector revenue climbed by 62% to $3.2 billion -- largely because of U.S. strength -- while the drilling and evaluation unit saw its revenue improve by 17% to $2.1 billion on activity in the Western Hemisphere and Iraq.

Among the more noteworthy work generated by the company was a three-year pact with Chevron (NYSE: CVX  ) to perform directional drilling, measurement-while-drilling, and logging-while-drilling on an ongoing project in the Gulf of Thailand. The company also received several long-term contracts from Statoil (NYSE: STO  ) for work offshore Norway. And in Iraq, it will provide drilling services for 15 ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) wells in the big West Qurna field in the southern part of the country.

Looking ahead, CEO David Lesar said on the company's call that, "I feel even more confident about the prospects of our North America business in 2011 and beyond. We believe there is room for upside in both revenue and margins as we respond to the continued increases in service intensity."

He also expressed plans to return equipment and workers to the Gulf of Mexico, following their deployment onshore during the extended Gulf slowdown. At the same time, regarding the company's growth in operating income, he said that, "This is a result of our continued strategic investment in oil- and liquids-rich growth areas where service intensity continues to grow."

Lesar noted confidence in the expected growth in activity in Latin America. As for North Africa and the Middle East, he said that "there is no relief in sight, and our operations are completely shut down for the foreseeable future."

Halliburton will be followed Thursday among services companies on the reporting parade by Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB  ) and Weatherford (NYSE: WFT  ) . I urge Fools to make sure Halliburton is included on their watchlists, given the company's strong start and managerial optimism.

Add Halliburton to your watchlist.

Chevron and Statoil are Motley Fool Income Investor recommendations. The Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil and Schlumberger. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the above-named companies. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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