With the Oil Market Scraping Bottom, Here is What's Next for Halliburton Company

By Fool.com

On its second-quarter conference call,Halliburton Company's management team said several times that the oil market was scraping bottom as the rig count appears to have hit its low. While that bottom scraping has continued, the company does see better days ahead.

Scraping along the bottomEarlier this summer Halliburton President Jeff Miller described the oil market as "scraping along a bottom." This was largely due to the rig count having slowed its descent. However, he cautioned that, "scraping along a bottom means that we don't anticipate dramatic change of any sort, certainly over the very near term." That has certainly been the case as we see in the following chart.

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US Oil Rotary Rigs data by YCharts

Clearly, the rig count has continued to scrape along the bottom and it could do so for quite some time. However, at some point healing will begin in the oil market. Here's what that would look like for Halliburton.

Let the healing beginMiller said that,

While he has no idea how long the market would scrape bottom, he does know from previous cycles how the healing process will unfold. First, activity levels will stabilize as drilling companies will grow more confident in their plans going forward. They'll set firmer capex spending plans and growth targets. That will lead to firmer service pricing for Halliburton as it won't need to continue to offer lower prices to its customers to win their work. That will stabilize its margins, which can then begin to improve as all of its cost saving initiatives, such as headcount reductions, start to flow through.

In other words, Halliburton isn't banking on a huge rally in the oil price to drive improved financial results. It just needs activity levels to begin to improve. That will stop the bleeding, so to speak, on its margins and allow its efficiency programs and well solutions to begin to work their magic.

A word of cautionHaving said all that, Halliburton's CEO Dave Lesar did warn that it could be a while before this healing process begins as he said that,

That's a strong statement and shows just how tough things are for the industry right now. He reminds us that there are no working crystal balls and because of this oil companies really have little visibility as to when conditions might improve. However, Lesar followed those remarks by sayings, "What I do believe is that when the recovery occurs, North America will offer the greatest upside and that Halliburton will be the best positioned to lead the way." In other words, he believes that there is no question that Halliburton will make it through the downturn, and when conditions do improve the company is positioned perfectly to thrive as it has a premier position in the North American shale market, which has the most upside of any market.

Investor takeawayHalliburton is confident that the oil market is scraping along the bottom, though it admits thatit could scrape along that bottom for quite some time and more tough times could be ahead for the industry. However, a recovery will come and when it does Halliburton will really thrive as it has a solid position in North America, which should recover strongly leading to much better margins and financial results for Halliburton.

The article With the Oil Market Scraping Bottom, Here is What's Next for Halliburton Company originally appeared on Fool.com.

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns and recommends Halliburton. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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