Not long ago, Halliburton (NYSE: HAL ) relied on increased drilling in North America to grow its business, but with that market slowing it's looking overseas for growth. The fourth quarter showed strong progress in that direction.
Overall, fourth-quarter revenue grew just 2% to $7.6 billion and income from continuing operations grew 7% to $798 million, or $0.93 per share, the company reported today. What was impressive was 17% revenue growth and 23% operating income growth in the Eastern Hemisphere, where drilling services demand is picking up. Unconventional drilling that's driven production growth in the U.S. is just making its way to these new markets and that's what Halliburton needs to grow.
North America continues to be a drag as rig counts declined slightly last year, a trend the company is expecting to turn around slightly this year. Drillers have become more efficient in their drilling and they don't need as many rigs or other services to increase production.
The results were decent but not awe-inspiring, which has become a common theme for major oil and gas companies. Halliburton's forward P/E ratio of 12 provides decent value for investors but we shouldn't expect a lot of growth in the future. Like big oil stocks, this is no longer a growth stock because the oil and gas markets simply aren't growing significantly worldwide.
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