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Halliburton Company (NYSE:HAL)

Q4 2012 Earnings Conference Call

January 25, 2013, 09:00 AM ET

Executives

David Lesar - Executive Chairman, CEO and President

Mark A. McCollum - EVP and CFO

Timothy Probert - President of Strategy and Corporate Development

Jeff Miller - EVP and COO

Kelly Youngblood - Senior Director of IR

Analysts

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

James West - Barclays Capital

Waqar Syed - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Jim Wicklund - Credit Suisse

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

James Crandell - Dahlman Rose & Co.

Jud Bailey - ISI Group

Brad Handler - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Halliburton Fourth Quarter 2012 Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions). As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I’d now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Mr. Kelly Youngblood. Sir, you may begin.

Kelly Youngblood

Thank you, Sam. Good morning, and welcome to the Halliburton Fourth Quarter 2012 Conference Call. Today's call is being webcast and a replay will be available on Halliburton's website for seven days. The press release announcing the fourth quarter results is available on Halliburton website.

Joining me today are Dave Lesar, CEO; Jeff Miller, COO; and Mark McCollum, CFO. Tim Probert, President of Strategy and Corporate Development will also be available today for follow-up calls.

I would like to remind our audience that some of today's comments may include forward-looking statements, reflecting Halliburton's views about future events and their potential impact on performance. These matters involve risk and uncertainties that could impact operations and financial results and cause our actual results to materially differ from our forward-looking statements. These risks are discussed in Halliburton's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2011, Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2012, and recent current reports on Form 8-K.

Our comments include non-GAAP financial measures. Reconciliation to the most directly comparable GAAP financial measures are included in the press release announcing the fourth quarter results, which, as I have mentioned, can be found on our website.

Our third quarter 2012 results included a $48 million charge, which amounts to $30 million after-tax, or $0.03 per diluted share, for an acquisition-related earn-out adjustment. This charge is reflected in both our North America and Latin America Completion and Production segment results.

Additionally, in the third quarter, we recorded a $20 million gain, which amounts to $13 million after-tax, or $0.01 per diluted share, related to a patent infringement settlement that is reflected in our corporate and other expense. In our discussion today, we will be excluding the impact of these items on our financial results.

We welcome questions after we complete our prepared remarks. We ask that you please limit yourself to one question and one related follow-up to allow more time for others who have questions.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Dave. Dave?

David Lesar

Thank you, Kelly, and good morning to everyone. Let me begin with a few of our key accomplishments in 2012. First, I'm proud to say that we delivered industry leading revenue growth in 2012 on the strength of our international business.

Our international operations also delivered industry leading profit growth. The result is a record year for our company with revenue totaling $28.5 billion, despite the challenges we experienced in the North America market.

To put this in perspective, our business has nearly doubled in size over the last three years, nearly all of it from organic growth. We set new revenue records this year in all of our regions and in both of our divisions. From an operating income perspective, we achieved new records in our Latin America region and in five of our 12 product lines.

At the start of each year, I find it's important to reiterate our basic strategy. Our cornerstones remain unchanged. Leadership in global unconventional development expanding our share within the deepwater markets and helping our customers maximize recovery from mature fields.

As the industry leader in unconventional development, this year we elevated our service offerings with the start of the rollout of our Frac of the Future initiative. This provides the most efficient and effective hydraulic fracturing delivery system available in the industry today.

Globally, 2012 is a watershed year for the expansion of unconventionals. In addition to providing services on several of the first commercial unconventional wells in Australia, in China, we expanded our service footprint in key market such as Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Argentina.

Ultimately, we differentiate ourselves by offering a fit-for-purpose completion coupled with superior frac designed that maximizes well productivity and delivers the lowest cost per BOE for our customers.

In the deepwater area, we are seeing the payoff of our recent infrastructure investments with key contract wins and market share gains in areas such as Malaysia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Kenya and Brazil. Our value proposition for deep water remains focused at improving reliability and integrity in well construction and completion activities and helping our customers reduce uncertainty. We believe our deep water technology portfolio expanding market position and service quality reputation will benefit us as new build deepwater rigs live in the market.

And lastly we continue to build out our capabilities in servicing mature fields. Over the last year, we’ve seen great success in critical investments we’ve made in the areas of specialty chemicals and artificial lift. These investments along with Boots & Coots have allowed us to more than double the size of our matured field business over the last two years. Our focus here is to share our customer’s production and improved recovery rates, and provide the technology to optimize performance over the life of the field.

Underpinning these strategies as a continued significant investment in new technology, we’ve more than doubled our technology spend in the last two years. And this year we will be expanding our R&D spend at a rate faster than our revenue growth as we further globalize our R&D footprint and drive solutions in unconventional deepwater and matured fields.

Now let me move on to operations. Internationally 2012 played out the way we told you it would. We exited the year with margins in the upper teens and averaged 15% for the full-year.

Let’s look at 2013. There we anticipate international customer spend increase in the high single digits, maybe more, maybe less. Whatever it turns out to be, the market share gains we’ve had, we expect our revenue to outpace the increased spending levels. We also anticipate full-year margins should average in the upper teens for 2013. We believe that this above market growth rate will come from volume increases as we ramp up on recent wins in new projects from continued improvement in those markets where we’ve made strategic investments in the past several years, from the introduction of new technology, and some modest pricing increases and cost recovery on selected contracts.

Shifting to North America, 2012 was a very challenging year for the industry. Operations we’re impacted by headwinds such as guar costs, pricing pressures and a significant drop in the natural gas rig activity. However I want to be clear before you listen to the rest of the presentation. We believe that the fourth quarter marked the bottom for U.S. land margins, and Jeff and Mark will tell you why we believe this.

Let’s look at how we see 2013 for North America. First, due to the significant post Thanksgiving slowdown we experienced, we closed the year with approximately a one month supply of high-priced guar inventory remaining. We will be taking delivery of lower-priced guar this quarter and by the second quarter we expect our guar inventory cost to be at market rates.

Although current guar market prices have reduced from the high as we saw in early 2012, guar prices remain above historical levels. This has had a silver lining as it is making our fast growing PermStim fluid system a compelling economic alternative and more importantly puts a sealing on the prices we will need to pay for guar in the future.

In the U.S. we believe the rig count will continue to grow from current levels, but will average down slightly for the year compared to 2012. However we are seeing higher well efficiencies due to increased pad drilling, more 24 hour operations, rig fleet upgrades and significant advancements in drilling and completion technologies.

In 2012 we saw the average days per horizontal well drilled drop approximately 15% compared to 2011 and we anticipate continued efficiency improvements in the upper single-digits for 2013. We believe that this continued shift toward efficiency boards very well for us in the coming years, as no company has the ability to execute factory type operations like Halliburton.

We’re also beginning to see signs of activity improvements in the first quarter as compared to December. The given the pronounced seasonal decline we saw in the fourth quarter it could take longer for activity levels to fully rebound to second or third quarter levels from 2012.

For the remainder of the year we expect activity levels to gradually increase, but we are expecting continued pricing pressure as we renew our last tranche of stimulation contracts. Many of our competitors are operating at breakeven or lost positions which should set a floor on stimulation pricing. However, an improvement in pricing will require a meaningful decrease in excess capacity which can happen of course in two ways, either equipment wears out, it is not replaced or increased activity takes up the slack.

We are expecting the industry to add hardly any capacity this year and over time, we should see a drop in excess horsepower due to normal attrition. Increasing oil activity and rising service intensity will also help to a certain extent. However, we believe that without a significant uptick in natural gas drilling, it is difficult to see a path for pressure pumping equipment to reach equilibrium this year.

Our view is that the U.S. natural gas drilling will not be a major activity driver in 2013, although the rig count in that area appears to have flattened. The decline in output from existing natural gas wells will likely be offset by additional volumes generated from new gas wells, the restart of shutting wells and associated gas from new oil wells if we see any meaningful uptick in gas activity that likely will not occur until the second half of the year. That being said, we still strongly believe in the long-term fundamentals of the gas business and are not going to abandon that market.

We have stayed with those customers in the natural gas basins even as some of our competitors left to chase work in the oil plays. This strategy has deepened our relationship with these customers and positions us well when gas activity rebounds. In the meantime, we may need in these basins as a focus has a negative ongoing impact on our margins, but we believe this is the right decision for the long run.

Our growth strategy going forward remains the same. We'll continue to grow our market share in deepwater, in global unconventionals and in mature assets. I'm optimistic about the coming year and our ability to rebuild our North American margins and realized continued revenue and margin growth in our international business. And lastly, we remain laser-focused on capital and margin discipline when it comes to pressure pumping.

Now, I'll turn the call over to Jeff to provide an operational update and come back at the end of the call to summarize. Jeff?

Jeff Miller

Thanks Dave and good morning, everyone. Let me begin with an overview of our fourth quarter results. Overall, I'm pleased with our results for the quarter. Revenue of $7.3 billion was up 3% sequentially and represents the highest quarterly revenue in company history with record revenue from all three of our international regions, our Drilling and Evaluation division and eight of our product lines.

From an operating income perspective, our Latin America and Middle East/Asia regions delivered record profit in our completion tool product line which holds the number one global market share position also had record operating income. Consolidated operating income of 981 million was flat to the previous quarter and was driven by strong performance from our international regions where we saw revenue and operating income growth of 20% and 39%, respectively, compared to fourth quarter of 2011.

Latin America posted an excellent quarter with revenue up 14% sequentially, despite a 2% drop in the rig count and operating income increases of 25% compared to last quarter and increased drilling fluids activity along with higher software sales in Mexico and Colombia led to the growth for the region.

Also contributing to the stellar quarter was project management in Mexico followed by higher stimulation and cementing activity in Argentina. An operational highlight this quarter was our tremendous success with various Turbopower turbine drilling tools in deepwater Brazil, drilling a horizontal pre-salt well the turbine tools surpassed customer expectation achieving a record rate of penetration on its first run in the Campos Basin and saving the operator multiple days of rig time.

Moving to the Eastern Hemisphere, revenue grew 11% sequentially and operating income increased 35% driven by year-end sales of software, completion tools and other equipment as well as the ongoing service revenue from key contract wins that have now started up. Now compared to the same period last year, operating income has increased by over 50%, which we would believe as a solid proof point that we’re successfully executing on our international strategy.

Sequentially, Middle East, Asia revenue and operating income increased 14% and 46% respectively. Production enhancement led the growth with year-end equipment sales, in China, and increased activity in Australia and Saudi Arabia. Also contributing were completion tool sales in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and Indonesia and higher software sales in China and Thailand.

As we continue to lead in global unconventionals, there are two items to note in Middle East and Asia market. In the fourth quarter we saw our first CleanStream unit, a mechanical ultraviolet alternative to biocides, and part of our CleanSuite environmental system successfully deployed in the Cooper Basin of Australia. And in the Malay Basin we executed the first high-pressure, high-temperature hydraulic fracturing job, utilizing our Sirocco frac fluid. Faster than indicated, up to 10 times improvement in production against offset wells and we’re optimistic that this advancement will lead to further tight gas development in the area.

Our mature assets strategy continues to deliver with several key wins this year. In Malaysia we were selected to provide the services to exploit the remaining reserves in the Bayan Field with the potential total value of $1.2 billion. In the Middle East, we provided production monitoring SmartWell capability. It reduced water production by 2/3s and increased recovery factor by fold.

Turning to Europe, Africa and CIS. We saw revenue and operating income increased 8% and 23% respectively compared to the prior quarter. The improvement was driven by the seasonally higher year-end completion tool sales in the North Sea and Angola, followed by improved drilling activity in the North Sea and Russia. Higher end of year software sales in Russia and Nigeria also contributed to the improved profitability. In deepwater East Africa we’re awarded a six-year multi-country, multi-product line contract. This is the single largest contract award in East Africa today and is evidence of our deepwater leadership and service quality that we have been delivering in this market.

Also in the third quarter we opened the industry leading advanced perforating flow lab. This state of the art facility allows us to simulate a wide range of downhole condition’s to evaluate perforation solutions in a controlled environment enabling us to maximize our customer’s production.

And before we move on to North America, I want to be very clear on one of my top priorities as Chief Operating Officer. While I have not met many of you, you can be certain that I am dead focused on capital discipline, especially in the frac equipment area. Capital discipline to me means two things. First that we won't to increase our horsepower capital until we’re achieving a better return on our deployed fleet and second, we will not put stacked equipment back to work until it's at an acceptable contract rate. If we have to stack more equipment to achieve these results we will do so.

Now let’s look at North America results for the fourth quarter, where the market played out consistent with our previous commentary. We saw a significant drop-off in activity in the back-half of the quarter as customers exhausted their budgets. Our North America revenue was down 5% compared to the previous quarter, right inline with the sequential 5% drop in the U.S. land rig count. North America operating income was down 22% sequentially driven mainly by reduced activity levels around the holidays. Increased consumption over higher-priced supply of guar and continued pricing pressure in hydraulic frac ring as we renewed contracts.

Fourth quarter margins were also negatively impacted by the tactical decisions we made to position our business for higher future profitability. These impacts include the upfront costs associated with our frac and the future initiative, the margin impact of our continued presence in the North America natural gas basins and costs related to the idling of equipment and crews during the quarter.

And on our last call we said that we would park equipment in order to help stabilize the transactions priced market and to avoid setting a new low price point for stimulation. We also said that we would be retiring older equipment as we upgrade to our more efficient Q10 pumps. In keeping with these strategies during the quarter, we temporary stacked 10 fleets and retired two older fleets from service. We continue to incur the personnel costs as we retain those crews from the stack fleets. In addition, we expect that the new Q10s deployed into the North America market will be offset by the retirement of older fleets.

Now as an update to the Frac of the Future, we are continuing the multiyear rollout of our Q10 pumps. Where they are deployed, we are seeing a marked improvement in terms of well-side efficiencies. As a result of an improved operating cycle and reduced maintenance profile, our Q10 fleets delivered the same capabilities as our traditional fleet with up to 20% fewer trucks on location and with fewer personnel.

In the fourth quarter, we also introduced our first spread of dual-fuel Q10s into the field. These units use both diesel and clean-burning natural gas which is more environmentally friendly than traditional pump trucks and as the infrastructure matures, will position us to use the abundant supply of North American natural gas as our power source.

In the second quarter of 2012, we introduced PermStim. And after 2,000 successful stages, it has established itself as a premium fluid system. The proprietary chemistry of this fracturing fluid results in improved well performance. As an alternative to guar-based systems, its cost profile will also protect us against escalating war costs in the future.

Regarding stimulation pricing, the bulk of our customer contracts have been renewed and we expect the small remainder to be renegotiated in the early part of this year. There is still risk of further pricing declines, but we believe they are mainly behind us as there will be virtually no incremental equipment entering the market in 2013.

With respect to our other product lines, we did experience some pricing pressure in specific basins; notably for those services closer to the frac. We believe this issue is primarily related to the significant drop in activity that occurred in the fourth quarter. And as activity levels return, we would expect to see these product lines follow suit and stabilize as well.

In the Gulf of Mexico, we had a record quarter in terms of both revenue and operating income. For the year, our Gulf of Mexico operation grew 37% as we gained market share during the recent activity increases. Given the deepwater rig arrivals in 2012 and those scheduled for the back half of 2013, we anticipate this activity improvement will translate into double-digit revenue growth and higher incremental margins.

We also believe we will continue to grow our market share as these rigs move to a completion cycle on the new wells and anticipate that 2013 will be another record year for the Gulf.

So to summarize North America, we have seen margin pressure in two major categories. First, the transitory ones which include our higher bar exposure, the cost of our high equipment increase, upfront costs associated with Frac of the Future and our ongoing commitment to operate in the gas basins. These costs should take care of themselves as the year progresses.

The second category covers market based issues, specifically around natural gas activity and excess pressure pumping capacity which in turn is affecting stimulation pricing. These will balance out as the broader market corrects. Given the market dynamics, 2013 will be a year where we focus on driving cost out of the system. Frac of the Future initiative will help us get there, but in the meantime we've already made headcount reductions in the quarter and we're looking at areas where we can further optimize our cost structure. As a result, you may see an impact from severance in our first quarter results.

And now Mark will provide some additional financial commentary. Mark?

Mark McCollum

Thanks Jeff and good morning, everyone. Our corporate and other expense totaled $106 million this quarter and included approximately $35 million for continued investment in our Battle Red completion tools manufacturing and other strategic initiatives. These activities will continue throughout 2013 but the related costs should begin to decline in the second half of the year.

We anticipate the impact of these investments will again be approximately $0.03 per share after-tax in the first quarter. In total, we anticipate that corporate expenses will average between $110 million and $115 million per quarter during 2013, including these strategic costs.

Our effective tax rate was 34% for the fourth quarter and 32% for the full-year 2012. As mentioned previously, we’re nearing completion of a strategic project to realign our international operations to better position us for improved delivery of our products and services to our international customers, closer alignment to our international suppliers, more efficient use of our field technology and an overall reduction of cost.

Some of the indirect outcomes that we expect out of this transformational initiative will be an increase in our international earnings and a wide reduction of our effective tax rate going forward. As a result, we’re currently forecasting the 2013 effective tax rate will be approximately 29% to 30%.

During the fourth quarter, we recorded an $80 million tax benefit in discontinued operations, related to the payment of our liability to Petrobras under a guarantee relating to work perform number of years ago on the Barracuda-Caratinga project by KBR.

As we move into 2013, we’re anticipating the typical sequential decline in international revenue and margins during the first quarter due to the absence of year-end seasonal activities as well as weather related weakness in the North Sea and Eurasia and this drop-off could be more pronounced compared to previous years due to our strong fourth quarter performance. Compared to the first quarter of 2012, we’re anticipating a mid teen percentage increase in revenues with a modest improvement in margins, which is evidence of our expanding international market share. Beginning in the second quarter, we expect international activity levels to recover from the seasonal impact and margins to steadily improve over the course of the year with full-year international margins averaging in the upper teens.

Moving on to North America, we expect U.S. rig count in the first quarter will be somewhat roughly the mirror image of the fourth quarter, but down slightly on average. Our expectation is that the rig count will improve throughout the year as activity resumes, but the full-year average for 2013 will be down in the low single-digits compared to 2012. In this activity environment we anticipate frac pricing will continue to be somewhat soft. However for Halliburton we’ve got a very beneficial tailwind going into 2013 which is our significantly lower guar input cost. We expect the continued activity improvement in the Gulf of Mexico will also positively contribute to margins as well as cost optimization in our North America land operations as a result of our Frac of the Future and Battle Red initiatives. Therefore as Dave mentioned previously, we are optimistic about the coming year on our ability to improve our North American margins beginning as earliest the first quarter.

As you know we've been trying to operate within our cash flows, though we've also been trying to achieve higher investment yields on our excess cash. So, during 2012 we started investing in some longer-term fixed income securities that don’t meet the accounting definition of cash equivalents. During the fourth quarter I’m proud to say our cash and investment securities increased by $779 million. For the full-year we also achieved an increase in cash and investment securities, even as we absorbed a record $3.6 billion of capital expenditures, an additional $200 million of acquisitions. We anticipate a continued reduction in working capital as a result of lower guar inventories and coupled with a lower capital spend we expect to see higher free cash flow in 2013, and we are anticipating that our CapEx for 2013 will be approximately $3 billion which is about 16% lower than our 2012 spend level.

We currently intend to direct less capital towards the North American market in our Q10 horsepower build we’ll be focused on fleet replacement. The displaced equipment will be retired from the market and the emphasis will be on the rollout of the Q10 pump and other ancillary equipment design to advance our Frac of the Future goals. Finally we’re expecting depreciation and amortization to be approximately $1.9 billion during 2013.

Now, I’ll turn the call back over to Dave for some closing comments.

David J. Lesar

Okay, thanks Mark. Just real quickly, we are very proud of our record setting fourth quarter international results. This has been an ongoing focus of our growth strategy and I think these results bear that out. So for 2013 we expect international margins will average in the upper teens and as we have discussed we have called the bottom on U.S. land margins for the fourth -- as of the fourth quarter. With our lower capital spend and improved working capital, we expect to generate an even higher level of free cash flow in 2013 and we remain very focused on capital discipline.

So with that, let's open it up for questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions). Our first question comes from Angie Sedita of UBS. Your line is now opened. Angie, you're line is now opened.

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

All right, thanks. First congratulations on the very strong fourth quarter and clearly for the year as well, particularly in the international markets.

David Lesar

Thank you, Angie. I appreciate it. Some folks have been critical of us chasing the international, especially the deepwater market aggressively over the past few years, but as I said then and I'll say now, I think that it's worth it. These are long-term markets, these are long-term contracts that allow for aggressive use of our technology and aggressive up-selling opportunities. So, I think you're starting to see the payoff now and you certainly will see it for the next several years.

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

I agree and even better. I would add to that that you've done it on the top line but you've also shown very strong improvements in margins also above the peer groups, so a double bonus.

David Lesar

Yeah, thank you.

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

So, to follow-up with that, your guidance for Eastern Hemisphere margins average in the high-teens slightly higher than our estimates which is obviously a positive, but I assume Middle East is a big driver of that. However, you referenced E&P spending in the high single-digits for 2013. Would it seem reasonable to you that growth for revenues in 2013 could be in the low to mid double-digits, and where do you expect to see the greatest strength?

Mark McCollum

Angie, this is Mark. The answer is yes and we do expect to outgrow the market in line with our strategies of outgrowing the overall increase in the deepwater market which we think will be a particular strength in 2013, on the back of our market share gains in Latin America as well as some of the increased activity in unconventionals and Saudi Arabia and Australia. And of course I should also reference the deepwater market in East Africa, those will probably be areas that will be primary growth areas, but we are expecting growth rate in the low single-digits -- I mean low double digits, even though we're probably a bit more pragmatic about what customer spend rates will increase on a year-over-year basis in the international markets.

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

Right now, you mentioned low-double digits for revenue growth based on what you see today?

Mark McCollum

Yes.

Angeline Sedita - UBS Investment Bank

Okay. And then as an unrelated follow-up, I know in the past you've mentioned returning capital to shareholders in 2013 is a priority. I guess the question is, is it still a priority for '13 and is there a preference for share buybacks versus a dividend or could both be considered and does the Macondo timing have any influence on this decision?

Mark McCollum

That's a great question, Angie, and the answer is that yes, it's still a priority. We, as you heard through our comments, have been very focused on trying to not only just achieve a positive cash flow result but improving that cash flow result as we go into 2013. We're in the process of finalizing our discussions with the Board and internally about our strategic initiatives for 2013. We'll have that wrapped up in the coming weeks. And in that discussion I think the answer is that everything is on the table, but dividends, share buyback, I mean we certainly are staying tuned to what happens on the Macondo front, but it's not an issue that will preclude us from consideration of some of those options. And so, I guess the best way that I can say is, is stay tuned.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from James West of Barclays. Your line is opened.

James West - Barclays Capital

Good morning, gentlemen.

David Lesar

Hi, James.

James West - Barclays Capital

And congrats again on another good quarter. A question on North America as we look at the progression throughout this year. I mean you've got clearly some tailwinds with guar, the Gulf of Mexico, some improving U.S. land rig count. But you’ve talked in the past, about normalized North American margins, you’re much higher than where they’re today. Is that something that’s possible to get too in this type of environment where we’ve, less slowly growing U.S. rig count or is this more likely when we get back to a better environment in ’14?

Mark A. McCollum

This is Mark again. I think James, the answer to that is that probably in the slower growing environment where we continue to see some pressure around pricing in the broad market and a – its going to be difficult sort of close up the excess capacity situation until we see some meaningful increase in the gas rig activity. I think that’s also going to mean that its going to be difficult to get us back to normalized margins, which we still believe are in the mid 20s for Halliburton.

James West - Barclays Capital

Right.

Mark A. McCollum

And so we – as we said, we’re calling the bottom, we see that at least the things that we perceive this tailwinds to our margin situation sort of trump the continued pressure that we will feel in frac pricing and possibly – peripherally in some of the other product service lines that are little bit – they’re closer to the frac than others. But I think that its just – its going to be difficult to drive them up back to those sort of historic normalized levels without a – what we sort of perceive is a normalized rig count environment, which includes a healthy dose of gas activity.

James West - Barclays Capital

Okay. So, but you would suggest though that healthy margin gains is not getting back to that what you see is normalized?

Mark A. McCollum

Yes. That’s right.

James West - Barclays Capital

Okay. And then just one follow-up for me on the fracture side, obviously a few more contracts to rollover, but some of the initial rollovers of your longer term contracts would have happened when pricing was still above where it is today. Do you – can you give us maybe some help on percentage of contracts that maybe or above what you think pricing is in the market today and how many rollover as we go through the year?

Jeff Miller

Yeah, thanks James. This is Jeff. I think the – those contracts tend to roll each year, so we’re working our way through the bulk of those. So, from a competitive standpoint as we look out we’ve probably 8% of our business under contract and so we don’t see a huge step down that will occur sort of resetting the prices from the first quarter that with last year.

Mark A. McCollum

Yeah, I think James, let me add one thing. Obviously, as Jeff said about 80% of our stuff is under contract and yeah we have some of the stuff that while the year ago at this time rolling over now, but if we don’t see a price that’s acceptable to us we may just roll it on a month-to-month basis, there’s nothing that says you are required to roll it from year-to-year and in some cases we won't do it, because we don’t want to get locked into a price we don’t like, so we’ll just go on more a month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter basis.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Waqar Syed of Goldman Sachs. Your line is now opened.

Waqar Syed - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Thank you very much and congratulations on a great quarter. A couple of things, and first of all on the North American margin front; could you help us little bit understand the trajectory here, could you quantify on the margin front like you know what kind of how guar could provide in the first quarter?

Mark A. McCollum

This is Mark, Waqar. I don’t think we want to give specific margin guidance; we’re trying to step away from that for competitive reasons. But, I think we have been fairly transparent that the guar situation or Halliburton impacted us through the end of the third quarter about 600 basis points. In the fourth quarter that went up because we stepped back our usage of PermStim and tried to drive harder on using some of the higher-priced guar, so the marginal impact in Q4 of guar as compared to the pricing of guar back in January of 2012 was about 650 basis points.

And then the difference in margins, I would say roughly from there is split about 50-50 on pricing and activity in the fourth quarter, and so, I guess, if that kind of gives you some roadmap as we then step back, we’ll wrap up this quarter using that higher-priced guar average in, lower sort of market based guar pricing into our inventory averages that should take us down. Now, the difference in – I think I’ve also articulated that we sort of triangulate the difference in our guar pricing and our competitors has been in our view about 400 basis points or so through the third quarter, and I think that that maybe another market you kind of see as we start rolling back that’s the big opportunity that we have vis-à-vis our competitors.

Waqar Syed - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Secondly, just on the pressure pumping revenue growth side, obviously November and December were impacted by the holiday season, but when you compare the month of October, how did that compare with the third quarter?

Mark McCollum

I'm sorry, your question is on our just overall activity?

Waqar Syed - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Activity on the revenues in pressure pumping or C&P in the month of October, how did that compare to the third quarter? Do you see any uptick or do you see continued decline in October versus the prior…?

Mark McCollum

Yeah, the month of October actually was very strong for us. It was a really good month and in fact, early part of November was really strong too. As we looked at the market overall, we saw a fairly modest step down in the rigs, at least our activity through Thanksgiving and then a more dramatic step between Thanksgiving and December 15th. But we sort of triangulate if you look across the overall rig count, most of the rig count drop happened in the last three weeks of December, and kind of bottom fell out and our triangulation about 80 rigs went out of the market in the last three weeks of the month. And our business tended to follow that and we think that that maybe overall for the entire quarter at least our calculations about 170 rigs went out. So it kind of gives you a sense of 50% on the three weeks. Does that help?

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Jim Wicklund of Credit Suisse. Your line is now opened.

Jim Wicklund - Credit Suisse

Good morning, guys and thank you for making me look smarter than I really am.

David Lesar

You're welcome, Jim.

Jim Wicklund - Credit Suisse

Jeff, a question, whenever a company management talks about a transformational event my ears perk up. You were talking about the strategic reorganization supply chain. Can you wax poetic for me for a few minutes on that and the implications of that?

Jeff Miller

Yeah, thanks Jim. We call it Battle Red, but it's a combination of rolling out our Q10 technology which is more efficient, it runs at a lower cost point and allows us to take people off-location. So that's part of that. It's broader though because we're also doing things in the back office with smartphone technology which has been rolled out through a large degree. It also allows us to take out a lot of back office costs. So, from a transformational standpoint, it's lower -- it's surface efficiency or lower cost per BOE for our clients, but then also internally to make sure that we're taking advantage of really what's possible today from smartphone sort of computational platform.

Jim Wicklund - Credit Suisse

And you mentioned this both internationally and domestically?

Jeff Miller

Starting domestically. At some point, it would move internationally.

Jim Wicklund - Credit Suisse

Okay. Thank you very much. And my follow-up question, can you guys give us some help on the magnitude of year-end sales for the international market? Just so we can kind of normalize expectations going forward. I know that Baker Hughes, their end of year sales were double last year. Just give us some idea because obviously you did fabulous in the international markets?

David Lesar

We don't typically try to give that much of detailed information on our direct sales, so I apologize. It certainly was a step up from where we had been on a year-over-year basis. It was a little bit higher. But in terms of our expectation, it was kind of in line. We saw more direct sales in our completion and production division than we had seen in prior years, some equipment and things into China and that probably was sort of year-over-year difference that we had. But clearly -- I mean it's going to be a big step down in Q1 I think in line with what everybody else has said, they will have an impact but in terms of our -- as I said on the call, our growth on a year-over-year basis is still going to be about 16% roughly.

Jeff Miller

Jim, that's what Mark said I think in the call, maybe we weren't as clear as we should have been. If you just compare where we think we'll be Q1 2013 to Q1 2012, we'll be up about 16%. So that's in my view sort of normalizes out the product sales and tells you sort of what -- sort of service revenue increase we're looking at year-over-year.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Kurt Hallead of RBC Capital Markets. Your line is now opened.

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Great. Thanks. Good morning. Dave, thanks for that clarity. I’m a little bit slow, can you just say that one more time that up 16% was at first quarter – the first quarter or second quarter, the second quarter?

David J. Lesar

No. Its first – its first quarter of 2012 to first quarter of 2013.

Mark A. McCollum

And that should be up 16%.

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

International, okay. Great.

Mark A. McCollum

International.

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Thanks for clarifying that. Now, in terms of the North American market, you guys indicated some pricing pressures, of some other product lines, but those that were more closely related to frac, so can I take that to mean that you’re really not seeing any pricing pressures for any of your drilling related service lines at this juncture and what would be your perspective on expectation for pricing pressures in those product lines going forward?

Jeff Miller

Yeah, this is Jeff. We look ahead – I mean, look through the fourth quarter and we saw mostly activity declines having an impact, which we think right itself to the degree next year. So, from a pricing pressure perspective we’re not seeing that now. As we look out into next year, we don’t see that, we don’t see the over supply necessarily the same way as we’ve seen in frac, so we’re not seeing it.

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Okay. And then my final one here is just, in the rack you guys indicated the matching new product checked, its been a drag on international margins so on and so forth. I was wondering if you could give us some rough guidelines as to what that impact had been and are you guys still on schedule to – for that project to roll-off, I think with sometime here in the second quarter, right?

David J. Lesar

Yes. In the second quarter of 2013 the project should come to an end. Over the last quarter we had much better rig performance, things have been looking up, the performance in our rack overall was significantly better in Q4 and basically a breakeven. So, we feel good about how things are shaping up. We got some new contract work going into 2013 in that market and scale helps from an absorption standpoint, so we’re continuing to press forward and hopefully once this [launch] – new project behind us, which at this point as long as we’re executing it shouldn’t be an issue. What we’re really trying to do is to move beyond and put ourselves in a firmly profitable standpoint which we believe will happen during 2013, sort of toward the middle of the year.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Jim Crandell of Dahlman Rose. Your line is now opened.

James Crandell - Dahlman Rose & Co.

Thank you, and let me add to the previous comments. Great job Dave in the quarter and for the year as a whole.

David J. Lesar

Thanks.

James Crandell - Dahlman Rose & Co.

My question has to do with – with Russia and you highlighted a contract with BP-TNK in the quarter; could you one, give us some ideas to the significance of that contract win and then secondly, your market position in Russia let’s just say well below your normal market share especially given this and I would imagine that that’s – that this is a real area of emphasis for you because of the size of the Russian market given it's the second largest market in the world. Can you talk about your strategy in Russia and whether you think you can get up to your desired market position through internal development or do you think acquisitions of maybe existing Russian companies have to play a part in that?

David J. Lesar

Yeah, thanks Jim. The contract we referred to is Em-Yoga which is our mature field type activity if we’re able to go in and prove really the breadth of our technology, so in fact rediscovering reservoirs and then adding to those, so we are excited about that, it's the leading edge of what we think could be more to come. So, I won't give you numbers in terms of significance but it's, I think consistent with our strategy to use our consulting capability, to not just pull through our services, but actually develop new thoughts and new applications of existing technology as well, more broadly with respect to Russia, it's a place where we are excited about the outlook. We think we’ve got the right team on the ground. We think we’re – have the right technology as that market moves more into what I’d say is our sweet spot around multistage fracturing and some other types of mature field activity. We would expect that to grow with respect to M&A. I mean, we always consider those things but I don't think it's a requirement.

James Crandell - Dahlman Rose & Co.

Are you saying that you think you can get up to what's a normal or are you saying you can get up to what you would consider to be an acceptable or normal market share position just by internal growth. I mean you’re like one-fourth the size of (indiscernible), maybe half the size of Weatherford in Russia?

Jeff Miller

Yeah, Jim, let me handle this. Yeah, there's no doubt that our market share in Russia is not consistent with the market share that we would like or we experience in other parts of the world, but my view is we got to be smart about this. And there are certainly organic growth opportunities to grow in Russia and we are growing our business there. But for us to get up to the size of some of our competitors, we would have to look at some major M&A. And as you know, we've talked about this many times with you and sort of with a broader group, we are focused on returns and focused on capital discipline.

So, my view is that the need to be larger in Russia does not trump the need to continue to be focused on capital discipline. So, I'm not going to go out and do a major M&A deal in Russia just to get a revenue base that's the same size as our competitors, but really never generates the kind of returns that we want to see off of that. So, I would say that the book is still open on it, but we don't feel any particular corporate need to go out and get a lot bigger in Russia because we're not going to do it and sacrifice margins and returns.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question comes from Jud Bailey of ISI Group. Your line is now opened.

Jud Bailey - ISI Group

Thanks. Good morning. And again, congratulations on good results. I was wondering if you could give us a little more detail on Brazil as you guys kind of get ramped up down there with some of your recent gains and just help us think about how we think about revenues growing as the drilling contract kicks in and maybe margins and startup costs there that you may incur?

Mark McCollum

The interesting thing is there's still some of the contracts that have not been completely approved or signed. And so we've been in a transitional period for a number of months on things like drilling that's actually allowed us to -- we've been mobilizing but that actually allowed us to kind of spread the cost sum to take off some of the brunt that what otherwise might appear more difficult in terms of a margin environment. But from an activity standpoint, the activity is beginning to pick up. Brazil grew very dramatically for us in 2012. We expect that to continue to grow. We'll be putting the infrastructure capital to work in that area. We have a new technology center that has continued to expand and working with some very specific projects with Petrobras down there we're pretty excited about and those are going to begin to show themselves.

So, I guess from our standpoint, we feel very, very good about what Brazil will do in 2013. This sort of the challenge is on. We also feel great about Mexico, some pretty exciting things happening in Mexico. In the Latin American environment, we've kind of got a horse race going on in that market as to who's going to sort of get the revenue poll and growth crown there. I think you should stay tuned for a very good 2013 coming on Latin America again just like 2012.

Jud Bailey - ISI Group

All right. So just to make sure I'm clear. So it sounds like in terms of Brazil any way, you've already incurred some of the start-up costs and mobilization costs, but haven't really felt the impact of the revenue yet and that will probably come in, in 1Q, 2Q. Is that fair to say?

Mark McCollum

I think that's fair to say, yes.

Jud Bailey - ISI Group

Okay.

Mark McCollum

But again, as we look at it and plan and kind of in our margin forecast, the great thing that's happened as a result of the expansion of our share there is while yeah, there's some pricing impacts of that new revenue, the higher level of activity is allowing absorption of fixed cost base that's sort of blunting the impact of that lower price. And so on a marginal basis, our margins in Brazil have continued to improve over this point of time even though some of the contracts have already kicked in at lower pricing.

Jud Bailey - ISI Group

Okay, that's good color. Thank you. And if I could, just my follow-up would just be one more on North America. You guys have done a pretty good job of kind of articulating how you see that market evolving over the course of the year. I'm just curious – I know the month isn't over yet, but I'm just curious how has activity or customer enquiries been so far in January maybe relative to your expectations 60 days ago?

Jeff Miller

Yeah, we’re seeing it, not the way we thought it would roll out last quarter which is, we saw the – seasonal declines kind of between Thanksgiving and New Year’s and then, but then I’ve seen as customer budgets were exhausted and towards the end of the year we’re seeing the mild – the uptick that we were expecting to see kind of end of January as kind of our key customers get back to work.

Operator

Thank you. Our next question will come from Brad Handler of Jefferies. Your line is now opened.

Brad Handler - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Thanks, good morning guys.

David J. Lesar

Hi, how are you doing?

Brad Handler - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Good, thanks. Maybe, I guess, to the degree that you feel that you can’t speak about it, maybe you can give us an update on the MDL process here in front of the trial start data in late February. Any comments you can make on potential negotiations with the class action group et cetera.

David J. Lesar

I think that probably the easiest thing to say, the trial is still scheduled to start in late February, we’re moving forward hard towards that process, the lawyers have been sort of furiously working through all of the discovery actions in preparation for the trial. That is our course at this point. I know there’s been some other activities with the other participants in the trial but at this data I’d say nothing, there’s been no discussions on our side or our path and so our general view is we’re moving to litigation and that’s what our preparations are set to do.

Brad Handler - Jefferies & Company, Inc.

Okay, got it. That’s helpful. Maybe just an unrelated follow-up, maybe helps to [cheers] up even though it's at some level I appreciate that this can be a bit misleading, but the last couple of years have been marked to maybe more so the I guess the ’11 and ’12 but they’ve been marked by some very sizable tenders, particularly in the offshore environments and that’s a lot of due to grab very significant market share as you guys have discussed. Are there as ’13 emerges, are there -- sort of how many significant kind of tender’s are you looking at? Should we expect to see that that’s another chance to seize more market share or have some degree of those large tenders sort of – do they wind down now?

Jeff Miller

Now without being specific with respect to tenders, our backlog as we look out into the next year or so it’s probably bigger than it’s ever been in terms of opportunities [set] so, those tend to be out there quite often and yes some big ones occurred last year, but we’re pretty confident that there will be opportunities to win. I was saying that it's always very competitive in those large tender situations, and so if we go out at those carefully with always a solid plan on how we make the returns that we want to make, just look back to last year kind of putting the eastern hemisphere numbers together as evidence of that.

David J. Lesar

Now I would, let me just add a little color to it. I think as, Jeff has said the opportunities at our pipeline as we call it is probably as big as it's ever been, but what's not there either big, mega, must win kinds of tenders it's just – it's a lot of small to medium sized tenders that are out there and that add up to the biggest pipeline that we’ve ever seen. So, we think that’s a good thing, because with the infrastructure we put down and some of the track record we still have developed off of some of these prior tenders, I think that it's put us on the map in some of the customers eyes of looking at us as a real alternative on some of these which again is why we’re so excited about what we see going forward in the international and especially the offshore and deepwater markets.

Kelly Youngblood

And with that I think we’ve went past our time. So I wanted to, on behalf of the Halliburton management team, thank you for your participation today and Sam you can go ahead and close the call.

Operator

Thank you. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for participating in today's conference. This concludes today’s program. You may all disconnect. Everyone have a great day.

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