While the 30% profit decline is a pretty significant drop -- especially since North America is Baker Hughes' largest market -- it was nonetheless encouraging there was a slight 2% uptick sequentially. Again, this may be one factor in the upgrade by Credit Suisse.

For the performance, BHI CEO Martin Craighead said:

"Our first-quarter results reflect improvement in our North America segment. The increased revenue and profit margins in North America are due to higher activity levels in Canada, along with improved utilization in our pressure pumping business despite a 3% decline in the U.S. onshore rig count since last quarter."

Craighead touched upon some very important points. While the overall health of the industry is not of the "quick fix" variety, investors have to be pleased that management is moving the company in the right direction. Baker Hughes is actually showing decent progress. But the company is still behind Schlumberger and Halliburton. It's not bad company in which to be. But management has to do a better job in fixing its deficits in North America before investors are going to truly embrace this as a turnaround.

Here's Making Sense

Despite the recent improvement, I would be hesitant to jump on Baker Hughes today. That's not to say there isn't plenty of long-term value in the shares. If the company can continue to improve internationally while waiting for North America to rebound, the stock should work to the extent of Credit Suisse's $54 target.

But absent clearer signs of progress and a real bottom, patience is the best play here.

At the time of publication the author had no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Richard Saintvilus is a private investor with an information technology and engineering background and the founder and producer of the investor Web site Saint's Sense. He has been investing and trading for over 15 years. He employs conservative strategies in assessing equities and appraising value while minimizing downside risk. His decisions are based in part on management, growth prospects, return on equity and price-to-earnings as well as macroeconomic factors. He is an investor who seeks opportunities whether on the long or short side and believes in changing positions as information changes.

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