With Halliburton's (NYSE:HAL) stock taking a beating lately, along with just about any other stock related to energy, you might think its business had suddenly derailed. But you'd be wrong. Following Halliburton's healthy revenue and earnings beat, management hosted a conference call that included some quite reassuring details.
1. Challenges are no match for Halliburton
The quarter wasn't easy for everybody. CEO Dave Lesar explained:
Even with all the noise out there this quarter and things such as Russian sanctions, disruptions in Libya and Iraq, the supply chain challenges we faced, and customer delays in the Gulf of Mexico, I believe we met these challenges head on, fought through them and were successful, and I am really proud of our employees who made it happen.
Halliburton hit new company records in quarterly revenue in both North America and the Eastern Hemisphere while delivering a double-digit sequential revenue increase in Latin America. For a little while there the company was having issues south of the border due to "social disruptions" and software problems which were causing concerns. Those concerns seem to be over.
2. More work than Halliburton can handle
One of the best "problems" to have in just about any industry is when demand is so robust a company can't keep up. Halliburton is having that very "problem" in North America:
Our job board in North America remained sold out and we are delivering new stimulation equipment that will allow us to add incremental work in the fourth quarter with no negative impact on our margins.
I think it's safe to say the fourth quarter will be another record, at the very least for North America. Operating income grew 16% sequentially for the region, and it's reasonable to expect even more to come. Lesar stated firmly, "We do not see momentum slowing anytime soon."
3. Contracts: mission accomplished
One concern I penned in past Halliburton articles was upcoming contract renewals. The company had between 60 and 65% of its contracts up for renewal by the end of the year and was hoping to renegotiate pricing terms to reflect current and expected future inflation. With falling energy prices, that seemed like a difficult task, but Lesar assured:
We also made excellent progress on pricing and our stimulation contract renewals and on cost recovery for ongoing contracts. Across key basins, we have negotiated higher prices that at a minimum should recover current and expected future cost inflation, and we should begin to see the full impact of new contract pricing as we move in to 2015.
Of particular interest is the phrase "at a minimum" which implies increased profits above and beyond increased costs. All things being equal, any price hikes beyond inflation should fall from the top line straight to the pre-tax bottom line.
4. The future is bright for Halliburton
There is always concern in the future from geopolitical risks or other industry headwinds that may turn up, but Lesar doesn't seem too worried. Regardless of what may come up he believes Halliburton will outshine the competition. He stated:
Whatever the market, we believe we can outperform our peers, and we remained focused on consistent execution, generating superior financial performance and providing industry leading shareholder returns. We have delivered this to you in the past and I believe we will continue to do so in the future.
The phrase "shareholder returns" doesn't just refer to earnings, but it also refers to sharing those earnings with shareholders in the form of dividends and/or stock buybacks.
5. Sharing the wealth
CFO Mark McCollum tackled the issue of giving back. Just about everything you need to know on this he stated succinctly in two paragraphs:
We announced today that the Board of Directors approved a 20% increase to our quarterly dividend from $0.15-$0.18 per share, resulting in a cumulative 100% increase to our quarterly dividend over the last two years. As previously stated, our intention going forward is for our dividend payout to equal at least 15% to 20% of our net income.
Additionally, based on our continued confidence in our business prospects, we bought back an additional $300 million in shares during the third quarter. We still have $5.7 billion remaining in repurchase authorization from a Board of Directors available for future stock buybacks.
If you liked Halliburton in the $70 range this summer and it fit your risk tolerance, personal circumstances, and other considerations, it looks like an even better buy in the $50 range it is now. Analysts have trimmed their estimates for 2015, but the valuation multiples look better now than they did before. The company isn't risk-free by any means, but it's probably a better value here than it was just a few months ago.