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This sector could help drill down on profits

Talking Numbers

Stocks are in the midst of their sixth straight day of gains. And leading the charge? Energy.

In fact, since the S&P 500 hit a two-month low on April 11, 2014, the energy sector has rallied more than 5  percent.

The standouts have been oil service stocks like Halliburton and Schlumberger, both of which are trading at or near all-time highs, and Baker Hughes, which is trading at its highest levels since late 2011.

Halliburton got a boost this week after reporting better-than-expected earnings on Monday. The company beat estimates by 2  cents, and saw profit growth on improved margins in North America.

(Read: Halliburton and Calpine are big market movers)

So is this the best way to play rising energy prices? Or is it too late to buy at all-time highs?

“Oil services have been on fire, and I don’t think it’s too late to buy,” said Steve Cortes of Veracruz TJM. “I wouldn’t go all in, but I think you can start picking away at the buy side here.”

Cortes’ main reason for liking Halliburton is CEO David Lesar’s bullish remarks on North America and fracking. Lesar said in the earnings call that he is starting to feel a momentum swing in the market, and is the most excited about North America in more than two years.

(Read: S&P 500 seals first six-day win streak since September)

“When we hear that kind of talk out of a CEO who is normally very careful, that tells me that the North America fracking story means that there is going to be considerable more upside for Halliburton,” Cortes said.

But Rich Ross of Auerbach Grayson says when it comes to the charts, proceed with caution. “Let’s keep in mind that the oil services and energy plays in general tend to be late-cycle plays here. This is a very volatile sector.”

(Watch: Commodities tomorrow: Selling pressure in crude)

Ross points out technical symmetry on a longer-term price chart, highlighting a similar run-up in shares of Halliburton back in 2011, which was followed by a 50 percent decline in the stock.

“It’s great if you own it,” he said of the recent run. “But don’t chase it here at all-time highs.”

Check out the video for the full discussion with Cortes and Ross.

 

 

 

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