For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – October 13, 2009 – announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI), Halliburton Company (HAL), Schlumberger Limited (SLB), National-Oilwell Varco (NOV) and Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT).

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Here are highlights from Monday’s Analyst Blog:

U.S. Rig Count Continues to Climb

According to data from Baker Hughes Inc. (BHI), the number of rigs searching for oil and gas in the U.S. rose for the week ended Oct. 9, reflecting ramped up drilling activity by the producers amid recent optimism about commodity price recovery.

Producers had scaled back oil and gas drilling operations over the past several months in the midst of falling commodity prices and tighter access to credit. However, the recent numbers suggest that companies are beginning to bring oil and gas rigs back on line amid signs of economic stabilization that could drive up energy demand.

The overall picture, though, remains weak, particularly for natural gas, whose inventories have recently hit a new record high of 3.66 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) and is threatening to test the maximum capacity of 3.89 Tcf. The supply picture is expected to reverse in the coming months as the lagging effect of the sharp drop in domestic drilling activity takes hold.

Until then, we believe that natural gas woes (especially in North America) will continue to haunt energy service firms like Halliburton Company (HAL), Schlumberger Limited (SLB), Baker Hughes, National-Oilwell Varco (NOV) and Weatherford International Ltd. (WFT). These oilfield service names have seen their revenues and earnings plunge in the last few quarters on the back of lower volumes and a very competitive pricing environment. We have Neutral recommendations on all the above-mentioned companies.

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