Halliburton Shows Growth. Is This an Energy Trend?

Let the energy games begin! Halliburton (NYS: HAL) , the Houston-based energy services firm, was the first major energy firm to report earnings, posting first-quarter net income of $627 million, or $0.68 per share. This is an increase of 18.5% for the first quarter year over year, marking high oil prices as the driving factor behind the services firm during this time of record-low natural-gas prices.

Halliburton, after releasing earnings this morning, opened trading up 4.5%, showing that its 30% YOY increase in revenue was well-received by investors. The great earnings report is especially telling because the figures include the $300 million charge for estimated losses relating to its supposed involvement in the Macondo oil spill that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, spewing an unparalleled amount of oil. Excluding this writedown, Halliburton would have reported earnings of $0.88 per share.

The energy services industry has had a strong focus on natural-gas production, but due to 10-year lows in gas prices, the growing trend has been transforming gas rigs into oil drilling rigs. This trend holds true for Halliburton, which has put a large number of natural-gas projects on hold but is making up for the shortfall with increased revenue from oil-field services.

How will the rest of the industry fare?
Halliburton started off the first quarter of the year on a high note, but could this be a trend that will hold up for others in the energy industry? The answer will come soon enough, as Kinder Morgan (NYS: KMP) releases earnings after the market closes today. Kinder Morgan is estimated to report an EPS of $0.85, revised from $0.97 per share 90 days ago. As a midstream company, Kinder Morgan typically will not see wild swings in revenue, due to long-term energy transportation contracts, so investors will be keen on operating margins and its ability to maintain strong cash flows in order to service debt.

We still have to wait awhile to see how the large energy and petroleum companies performed in the first quarter, but Halliburton's rival Schlumberger (NYS: SLB) will release its first-quarter results on Friday. The key for Schlumberger will be its growth potential and whether it saw increased revenue from its many reconfigured oil rigs.

The bottom line
The great news out of Halliburton has buoyed the energy sector today, and as more companies release earnings, we could start to witness a turnaround in the energy industry. A strong earnings-season showing could be the injection a stock needs to start its run-up in price. While the energy sector has seen some disappointment recently, now could be a great time to purchase these companies while they are trading at a discount.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributor Joel South holds no shares of the companies mentioned above.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Halliburton and Schlumberger. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.

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