As the latest earnings season moved into its first week of full-scale activity, Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) became the first of the oilfield-services companies to release its results. Surprisingly, those results were stronger than was the market's reaction to them.

The second-largest of the services contingent chalked up earnings of $544 million, or $0.60 a share, compared with $262 million, or $0.29 per share, for the same period in 2009. However, the results for the most recent quarter included a non-cash impairment charge of $0.04 per share, along with $0.07 per share in income from the U.S. tax effects from discontinued operations. Excluding those items, its profit was $0.58 a share.

Halliburton's revenues increased to $4.67 billion, versus $3.59 billion a year ago. The consensus among analysts had been for earnings of $0.56 a share on revenues of $4.64 billion.

As I suspect will be the case with other big services companies, including Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) and Baker Hughes (NYSE: BHI), Halliburton benefited from a strong North American market, despite flat or declining results internationally and reduced Gulf of Mexico activity. North American revenue jumped by 85% year-over-year and 13% from the second quarter. As CEO Dave Lesar noted, "The shift to oil and liquids-rich activity continues to drive service intensity through horizontal drilling and completions complexity."

The company's Completion and Production unit grew its operating income by 23% from the second quarter of this year, due largely to the strength in North America. The Drilling and Evaluation sector reported a 15% sequential decline in operating income, in part because of the deepwater drilling suspension in the Gulf of Mexico. However, excluding that impairment charge I mentioned, the unit achieved slightly improved operating earnings.

The company has also completed the acquisition of Boots & Coots, resulting in "the industry's premier intervention services and pressure control product service line." It also has purchased Permedia Research Group, a supplier of petroleum systems modeling software and services. Further, Halliburton has been awarded separate contracts to perform service work in Iraq for units of ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM), Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A), and Italy's Eni (NYSE: E).

So despite a post-release share price decline on Monday -- from a two-year high last week -- largely in part to disappointing European results, I'm inclined to pay attention to Lesar's prediction that, "Going forward, we expect steady, incremental increases in activity internationally will generate volume-led margin improvements as we move into 2011."

With that expectation in mind, and in the face of big North American showing, Foolish energy investors should keep a close watch on this solid and spreading services company.  

The Fool owns shares of ExxonMobil. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

True to its name, The Motley Fool is made up of a motley assortment of writers and analysts, each with a unique perspective; sometimes we agree, sometimes we disagree, but we all believe in the power of learning from each other through our Foolish community.

Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies named above. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.