The world's second-largest oilfield services company, Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) has reported results for the fourth quarter of 2009 that, while materially down year over year, indicated the same sort of optimism for 2010 that has thus far been signaled by the likes of Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) and Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB).

During the quarter, the company earned $257 million, or $0.28 per share, excluding a charge of $10 million, or $0.01, related to a customer receivable in Venezuela. While down $0.02 a share from the same quarter last year, it compares to net income of $262 million, or $0.29 per share, for the sequentially prior quarter. As I've discussed with Fools in the past, my belief is that, given the state of our economy, sequential results are currently more important than the typical year-on-year comparisons.

At the same time, the quarter's rig count in the United States increased 14% from the prior quarter. As CEO Dave Lesar observed:

The increase in rig count, positive withdrawals from gas storage and the focus by operators on projects with high service intensity are positive indicators for the North America market in the short term. A sustained recovery is possible through an increase in industrial demand and exiting the heating season with storage levels in line with the historical average.

As you probably recall, Halliburton, like many of the services companies these days, operates through two segments, Completion and Production (C&P), and Drilling and Evaluation (D&E). The Completion and Production unit provides a variety of production improvement services, tools, and cementing, while the Drilling and Evaluation group provides modeling of fields and reservoirs, along with drilling, evaluation and well placement and construction guidance.

The C&P group turned in $170 million in income, down $70 million from the prior quarter. Interestingly, the United States C&P effort improved substantially, while the group's Latin America, and Europe/Africa/CIS operating income slid by 56% and 42% respectively. Conversely, the D&E unit increased its operating income in the quarter by $29 million, or 10%. North America was strong for the group, while strength in Brazil was offset by weakness in a number of other locations.

We'll be soon receiving quarterly reports from the integrated oil companies, including ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and BP (NYSE:BP). My forecast is that those companies will be as positive on 2010 as the services companies have been thus far. Overall, my betting is that the New Year will be a solid one for the energy sector -- certainly including Halliburton.

Halliburton has been rated a four-star company by Motley Fool's CAPS players. Does that rating include your assessment?

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own any of the shares listed above. He does welcome your questions or comments. The Motley Fool has a super-powerful disclosure policy.