Halliburton: Performance Just Bottomed

| About: Halliburton Company (HAL)
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The pain in the oil sector has begun to subside as oil has started to climb back, and I think HAL's performance (earnings and revenues) just bottomed.

I discuss Q2 results, which I believe will be the lowest results the company will post this year.

What to look for going forward.

Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), as many of you know, is an oil service stock that I have traded many times over the years despite having long preferred rival Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB). That said, both are very similar in many respects. The pain in the oil sector has begun to subside as oil has started to climb back. For the last year and a half, the pain has been real for investors in the sector, but I have been behind the names, encouraging you to buy this dip for months. Those calls are paying off. Now that the drama of the Baker Hughes (NYSE:BHI) ordeal is behind us, save the $3.5 billion Halliburton is on the hook for, now is the time to get back to looking at the fundamentals and the performance of these names on an individual basis.

To determine where the stock may be heading, aside from oil prices, we need to talk about the company's recent performance. With oil prices so low of late, though rebounding somewhat in Q2, it has crushed the company. This is particularly true when we look to say two or three years ago. Simply put, the higher the price, the better. That's just a fact that is true for all of the oil names. That said, Halliburton beat analyst expectations on revenues and beat expectations on the bottom line.

So what kind of numbers are we talking about? Well, despite an earnings beat, a comparison to last year clearly demonstrates the pain the company has been experiencing. Of course, it should surprise no one, with oil having dropped to decade lows coming into 2016. Quarter over quarter, I was not surprised to see the company drop heavily on the bottom line versus Q1, but the results surprised analysts. The company saw a loss from continuing operations in its second quarter of $121 million. This translated to $0.14 per share. Still, this beat analyst estimates by $0.05 per share. Adjusted operating income was $62 million in Q2 2016, down from the adjusted operating income of $225 million in Q1 2016. Again this is no surprise and is a direct result of revenues that dropped markedly. Halliburton's total revenue in Q2 was $3.84 billion compared to $4.2 billion in the first quarter of 2016. Ouch. That said, this beat estimates slightly, by $90 million.

So just how did Halliburton get here and beat earnings by this much? First, expectations were drastically low, thanks to oil prices. Still, it managed to control expenses as best it could, and really this is the key to survival for this sector right now. Over the last year, the company has slashed its expenditures in just about every category. That's really all that matters in the short run and really what you need to keep an eye on. Commodity pricing is driving revenues, so the bottom line can thus be impacted by watching spending. Of course, the Baker Hughes termination fee hit the company for $3.52 billion, and it took impairment charges of $423 million. Still, looking at the revenues and operating income/loss statements, it becomes clear that the company managed to decrease operating expenses in most categories, and this is the key to its survival.

It is no surprise that with revenues declining so precipitously that operating income would be hit year over year, but the company really did get crushed quarter over quarter, relatively speaking. Loss from continuing operations was up to $3.2 billion, or $3.73 per share, rising from a loss of $2.4 billion, or $2.81 per share. Looking ahead, oil is rebounding in the near term. I expected a terrible quarter, and once again I was not disappointed. However, the market may be turning a corner. Now that the Baker Hughes deal is off the table and the charge has been paid, we can get back to watching expenses, production and debt. I maintain a hold rating on the name, but am optimistic for the coming quarters given the move higher in oil.

Note from the author: Christopher F. Davis has been a leading contributor with Seeking Alpha since early 2012. If you like his material and want to see more, scroll to the top of the article and hit "follow." He also writes a lot of "breaking" articles, which are time sensitive, actionable investing ideas. If you would like to be among the first to be updated, be sure to check the box for "Real-time alerts on this author" under "Follow."

Disclosure: I am/we are long SLB.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.