To its credit, Halliburton
While Halliburton has been a leader in developing the technology being used in the boom in natural gas across U.S. shale plays, it's also trying to expand its business abroad. That's not necessarily a new thing: Back in 2007, CEO Dave Lesar opened a second headquarters for the company in Dubai. Last month, on Halliburton's earnings call, Lesar predicted a pickup in international pricing in 2011, along with further growth in global oil and gas demand in 2012.
But don't assume that North America, lately the bread and butter of companies like Halliburton, Baker Hughes
As Chief Financial Officer Mike McCollum said at Thursday's presentation, Halliburton's capital spending is likely to move into the $2.5 billion to $3 billion range next year. That would easily top this year's $2.1 billion figure and the $1.8 billion spent in 2009. A sizable amount of the growth will be tied to countries like India, Libya, and Russia, along with an increasing deepwater presence. And in reawakening its Iraqi operations, the company has garnered three new contracts in the past three months.
With all these plans in the works, Halliburton is expected to earn $2.68 per share next year, following about a $2.00 forecast for this year. Beyond that, the expectation is for further per-share earnings growth to about $3.15 in 2012.
A nice turnaround
Before the positive meeting with the analysts, however, management spent the early part of the week testifying to a presidential commission, defending Halliburton's role in the blowout of BP's
And on Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a subpoena for information about the chemicals Halliburton has used in hydraulic fracturing in U.S. shale plays. Environmentalists maintain that the process endangers water supplies near the drill sites. Halliburton, however, has said the EPA has made "unreasonable demands," which would force it to prepare 50,000 data spreadsheets.
All in all, my reaction to Halliburton's week, like that of many analysts, is positive. As a management freak, I've long thought that Lesar leads a solid team and that the company should be near the top of Foolish watch lists.
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