By Houston Business Journal

Analysts are bullish on Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. after the two Houston energy players both boosted profits for the fourth quarter of 2010, citing strong sales in North America.

Oil services giant Halliburton more than doubled earnings for the quarter, the company said Monday, posting net income of $605 million, or 66 cents per share, compared to $243 million, or 27 cents per share in the fourth quarter 2009. That beat expectations from Thompson Inc. of 63 cents per share for the fourth quarter 2010.

The company attributed the jump in profits to a resurgence of oil and gas drilling activity in North America.

⿿Over the next several quarters, Halliburton should benefit from a strong (North American) market and rising activity levels internationally.⿝ wrote Stephen Gengaro of Jefferies & Co. Inc. in a letter to clients. ⿿We believe the shares remain a compelling value for investors and would buy especially on weakness.⿝

Jeff Tillery of Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. LLC wrote in a note to clients that while he likes the ⿿balance⿝ earning by Halliburton, the company may expect a seasonal slowdown in the first quarter.

Halliburtonâ¿¿s positive results come on the heels of Schlumbergerâ¿¿s Jan. 19 report of a 31 percent gain in fourth-quarter earnings, which the oil services provider also attributed to a up turn in its North American business.

First-quarter earnings for Schlumberger (NYSE: SLB) rose to $1.04 billion, or 76 cents per share, compared to $795 million, 65 cents per share a year before.

That failed to beat estimates by Thompson Inc. of 78 cents per share for the fourth quarter 2010.

Shares of Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) moved above $40 in early morning trading Monday and closed the session at $39.55, a gain of 36 cents or about 1 percent, while Schlumberger shares also gained about 1 percent, adding 77 cents to close at $84.25.