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Major oilfield services provider Halliburton Company (HAL - Analyst Report) reported slightly better-than-anticipated fourth quarter 2012 results, helped by robust performance from its international business. Earnings per share from continuing operations came in at 63 cents, beating the Zacks Consensus Estimate of 61 cents.

Following Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI - Analyst Report), Halliburton stepped up as the second member of the ‘big 4 oil service companies’ to post above consensus result. The largest member of the oilfield services contingent – Schlumberger Limited (SLB - Analyst Report) announced in line earnings, while Weatherford International Limited (WFT - Analyst Report) is scheduled to report next month.

However, the company’s per share profits came sharply lower than the adjusted fourth quarter 2011 level of $1.00, amid sluggish activity in its core North American operations.

Revenues of $7.3 billion were 3.2% greater than that achieved during the last quarter of 2011 and also surpassed the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $7.0 billion, as sales increased across the company’s business units.

During the quarter, North America accounted for approximately 51% of Halliburton’s total revenues and 43% of its operating income.

For its fiscal year ended Dec 31, 2012, Halliburton reported income from continuing operations (excluding non-operating items) of $2.99 per share, above the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $2.97 but lower than the 2011 adjusted earnings of $3.35 per share. Revenues of $28.5 billion were 14.8% above the year ago period and also managed to beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $28.2 billion.

Segmental Performance

Completion & Production: Revenues for Halliburton’s Completion and Production segment were up by a marginal 0.2% year over year and 1.0% sequentially.

Segment operating income was $603 million, exhibiting a 2.0% sequential increase but was down 44.5% from the year-earlier level.

In particular, operating income in North America nosedived – by 66.5% year over year and 17.8% sequentially – hamstrung by a tight pricing environment for production enhancement services and cost escalation.

The dismal showing in North America – responsible for more than half of the segment profits – was somewhat offset by higher earnings in Argentina, improved activity in Angola, Norway, Saudi Arabia and Australia, as well as a surge in direct sales in China and Saudi Arabia.

Drilling & Evaluation: Revenues from Halliburton’s Drilling and Evaluation business were 4.8% above the third quarter levels and improved by a healthy 7.9% year over year to $3.0 billion.

The segment’s operating income rose 12.6% from the September quarter and a minor 0.8% from the year-ago period to $484 million. This was driven by higher activity in Canada and the Gulf of Mexico and year-end software sales. Results were further propelled by enhanced fluids activity levels in Mexico and Colombia, higher demand for drilling services in the North Sea, as well as improved levels of wireline profitability in Angola.  

Balance Sheet

Halliburton’s capital expenditure in the fourth quarter was $1.0 billion, bringing the full-year spending to $3.6 billion. As of Dec 31, 2012, the company had approximately $2.5 billion in cash/cash equivalents and $4.8 billion in long-term debt, representing a debt-to-capitalization ratio of 23.4%.

Zacks Rank

As of now, Halliburton, Schlumberger and Weatherford are all Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stocks, while Baker Hughes retains a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell).

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