Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Is Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) a Crap Shoot Now?

With the battle for the truth concerning Halliburton's (NYSE:HAL) role in the failed Macondo oil well, BP (NYSE:BP), Halliburton, government officials, and investors, analysts and commentators on the sidelines have all been giving their two cents on how it all will play out for Halliburton.

That's why financial institutions like Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) view Halliburton as a buying opportunity at this time, while others such as Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) have lowered their price target on the company.

Goldman maintains their "Buy" rating on Halliburton and Morgan Stanley their "Equalweight." Morgan cut their price target on Halliburton from $50 to $45 while Goldman maintained their $40 price target.

Every story coming out in the media is a he/says, she/says situation, and then you go beyond that to the so-called scientific input and it gets even more confusing as the enormous number of variables are weighed, and in reality - guessed at, as to what this means for Halliburton.

If nothing else, this will weigh on the shares of the stock for some time, and even with the assertions of all those involved ensuring the rest of us how things will play out, we've really just begun to see the process in reference to Halliburton, and until things clear up that will remain the case for the company.

Since the news, the market seems to be reacting the same way, as the share price, once the obvious plunge in price was over, rebounded and has been flat while contradictory news continues to be the norm.

Issues that are part of the story all surround the quality of the cement mix used by Halliburton to seal the well, which according to BP, was, for the most part, the major reason for the overall failure.

The oil spill commission agreed with that assessment, and Halliburton has admitted they didn't successfully complete a test on the final mix.

You also have Halliburton saying the internal test of BP concerning the mix, as well as the independent test conducted by Chevron (NYSE:CVX), were both different mixes, and not the actual one used to seal the well.

Then you have a little sample of the original mix which was ordered to be tested by a judge, but some say is now too old to be analyzed successfully.

Evidently the situation is as messed up as the mix was, and it's uncertain if it will ever be able to be absolutely proven whether or not the mix was ultimately the cause of the event, although other oil companies have stated they believe it was a key factor as the mix was described to them.

Halliburton is now going to have this cloud hanging over them, and may have to decide whether or not to settle in order for their reputation not to take a huge battering, or the actual cost of damages could be inconsequential in comparison to the reputation lost, along with possible future business.

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