When Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) oilfield service company reported its third-quarter earnings, the company didn't exactly shoot the lights out, but all in all, the results should make Fools with a yen for oilfield service companies sit up and take notice.

For the quarter, Halliburton managed to generate reported income of $262 million, or $0.29 per share. These figures compare with $672 million, or $0.74 a share for the same quarter of 2008. Backing out $19 million, or $0.02 a share for employee separation costs in the most recent quarter, brings the per-share figure to $0.31, a nickel higher than analysts' consensus expectations. Last year's third quarter included a $15 million after-tax acquisition-related charge and the effects of hurricanes that amounted to $33 million after tax.

Halliburton is divided into two separate operating entities. Its completion and production unit increased its revenue for the quarter by $69 million from the second quarter. At the same time, the group's operating income slid ever so slightly on the basis of softness in several areas of the Western Hemisphere.

The drilling and evaluation unit increased its revenue by $25 million from the second quarter. The division was especially strong in Russia, the Caspian, Brazil, and the U.S., offsetting some weakness in the Middle East and Asia.

Among the company's success in the quarter was a $190 million contract with Petrobras (NYSE:PBR) to provide a variety of services and materials in the offshore shelf and the deepwater and pre-salt areas of Brazil. In addition, Halliburton signed a three-year renewal of a contract with BP (NYSE:BP) for software access and a related services agreement.

It appears that Halliburton has led off for the service group with solid results, especially sequentially. The company will be followed this week by Weatherford (NYSE:WFT), Diamond Offshore (NYSE:DO), and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB). Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) will bring up the rear in November.

So, by the end of the week we'll have a better handle on the strength of the sector.

My expectation is that commodity price improvements will benefit the group in the coming quarters, and that Fools' time would be well spent studying especially those companies that have something to contribute to the deepwater or the unconventional plays.

Halliburton has been rated a four-star company among Motley Fool CAPS players. Why not add your thumbs up or down on this one?

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.