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What: Shares of drilling service company Patterson-UTI Energy, (NASDAQ:PTEN) rose 13% today after announcing earnings.

So what: Fourth-quarter revenue was up 1%, to $659 million, but net income fell 72%, to $16.6 million, or $0.11 per share. After pulling out one-time items, earnings were $0.28 per share, which was $0.06 higher than estimates. 

Now what: Drilling activity has picked up late in 2013 and into 2014, which is one reason the company outperformed expectations. That should continue this year because oil prices have remained high, and natural gas is now high enough to attract drilling activity. The service industry can be volatile depending on drilling trends, but I like the space this year, and Patterson-UTI should be one of the beneficiaries of increased drilling in the U.S.

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