Far too often, prepared remarks during quarterly conference calls are about as engaging as a recitation of the ingredients off the back of a cereal box. Rather than spoon-feeding analysts with soggy line items for their spreadsheet models, National Oilwell Varco's (NYSE:NOV) CFO used this time to present both the on-the-ground business and its macro environment in great detail. This was one of the best calls I've ever heard, and not just because the results were so stellar.

It wouldn't be a quarterly report without the numbers, so let's take a quick look at some quantities. Sales shot up 45% and 8% sequentially. Just like last quarter, the rig technology segment led the charge with a 72% rise in revenues. Management attributed the entire sequential rise in the segment's orders to offshore rigs, which now account for 85% of the firm's $8 billion backlog. Firmwide, operating profit pounced 91% higher, and net income more than doubled.

Management noted that the recent Gulf of Mexico lease sale is a positive sign, jiving with my assessment that the deepwater dance marathon is set to continue for quite a number of years. But the Gulf isn't necessarily the main dance floor -- fully 89% of backlog now stems from international buyers. The offshore oil search is a patently global phenomenon.

A lot of people have seemingly written off the Gulf, and you see servicers like Superior Offshore (NASDAQ:DEEP) and Dril-Quip (NYSE:DRQ) taking serious guff, despite $90 crude oil. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. There is a very deep pipeline (boy, that was too easy) of projects in the deep water, ranging from Eni's (NYSE:E) Longhorn development to Chevron (NYSE:CVX), Devon (NYSE:DVN), and StatoilHydro's (NYSE:STO) Tahiti project and so on, off into the horizon.

NOV, for one, is forecasting an improvement in the U.S. deepwater market over the next 12 to 18 months. I'm going to go out on a limb here and forecast an improvement in Varco's business over the same period.

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