Along with all manner of investigations into its construction-related activities and a string of claims that it has circumvented traditional bidding processes in obtaining some of its business in Iraq and other international locations, Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) has now been figuratively hammered by the weather. According to a company announcement on Tuesday, reduced activity in North America -- which generally has been attributed to warm winter weather -- has put the kibosh on some of the company's activities in the area.

One result was a reduction in management's per-share earnings guidance for its first quarter. That guidance is now in the range of $0.49 to $0.54, versus the $0.59 consensus expectation.  The result was a 5.9% dip to $30.50 on the day in the company's share price.

In announcing its reduced expectations, the company said, "During the first quarter, the Production Optimization and Fluid Systems Divisions of Halliburton's Energy Services Group have experienced reduced activity in North America. A significant portion of these lower than anticipated results is attributable to decreased drilling and completion activity in Canada and the northern United States."

I really am convinced, Fools, that this is a legitimate announcement and not an I-told-you-so attempt to demonstrate the declining status of North American energy activity. Last week Halliburton disclosed that, in order to be closer to the center of energy exploration and production activity, it would create a headquarters in Dubai. Much like Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI), another major Houston-based oil-field service company, Halliburton expects that progressively more of its future business will be generated outside the United States.

So what should Fools think about the goings-on at Halliburton? My first response relates to the virtual dragging of the company through the (non-drilling) mud during the past few years. Most of the contentions of wrongdoing have related to its now spun-off KBR (NYSE:KBR) unit. And even there, it appears that the frequency and intensity of the charges leveled at that operation likely have been overdone.

My second response would be that while Halliburton does trade at a distinct discount to oil service giant Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), its valuation is not materially out of whack with Baker Hughes or BJ Services (NYSE:BJS). But the real key to the sector, it seems to me, is that all these companies trade at a discount to the S&P 500. With world energy demand destined to expand unabated for decades to come, that relationship is not as it should be.

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith does own shares in Schlumberger, but not in the other companies mentioned. He welcomes your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.