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Stock Market News: Equifax Pays Up for Data Breach; Halliburton Hits a Profit Gusher

Dan Caplinger, The Motley Fool

Monday gave investors a mixed opening on Wall Street, as earnings season continued to deliver different readings on the health of the U.S. and global economies. As of 11:20 a.m. EDT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) was down 43 points to 27,111. The S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) was up a fraction of a point at 2,977, and the Nasdaq Composite (NASDAQINDEX: ^IXIC) gained 32 points to 8,178.

Some big names reported earnings today, and Halliburton's (NYSE: HAL) news gave the oil services giant's investors a lot to celebrate. But first, let's look at the latest from credit reporting agency Equifax (NYSE: EFX), which made a significant announcement concerning a major data breach from two years ago.

Equifax makes a settlement

Shares of Equifax rose a fraction of a percent after the credit reporting agency said it had reached a comprehensive consumer settlement in connection with the data breach it suffered back in 2017. According to the company, the $671 million deal includes settlement agreements with federal regulators at the Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as well as addressing cases and investigations by 48 state attorneys general, the attorneys general of the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and the New York Department of Financial Services.

If the deal receives court approval, then Equifax will contribute $380.5 million to a consumer settlement fund to provide restitution for costs that those affected by the breach incurred. Up to $80.5 million will go toward attorney fees in the class action lawsuit that consumers filed against Equifax. If the remaining $300 million proves insufficient to cover those costs, Equifax is committed to adding up to $125 million more.

In addition, the state, district, and territorial attorneys general will receive an additional $180.5 million. Equifax will pay penalties of $100 million to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and $10 million to the New York Department of Financial Services.

The deal marks the largest settlement ever for a data breach, and public officials were quick to criticize Equifax once again for the incident. Despite the price tag, though, shareholders seem pleased at the prospect of finally putting the breach behind them once and for all.

Rig and pipe with two workers wearing orange clothes.

New energy for Halliburton stock

Shares of Halliburton were higher by more than 5% Monday morning after the oil services giant reported its second-quarter financial results. The company posted a modest 3% rise in overall revenue, as international activity helped to power Halliburton's business higher despite more sluggish conditions in its home North American market during the quarter.

Gains were especially significant in certain parts of the world. Halliburton saw a 10% revenue boost in its Europe, Africa, and Commonwealth of Independent States region, with Russia and the North Sea providing the bulk of the upward push. A 7% rise in revenue from the Middle East and Asia came despite lower amounts of drilling activity in the key Middle East region, as higher completion tool sales and greater amounts of pressure pumping activity helped Halliburton.

What was particularly noteworthy, though, was the way in which Halliburton turned sales gains into explosive profit growth. Adjusted net income was up by 50% from three months ago, and CEO Jeff Miller was pleased at how his company kept "controlling what we can control and managing our business to perform well in any market conditions."

Halliburton has made some strategic shifts recently in response to changing conditions, and investors seem to be taking it well. If North America recovers, then it'll just be an additional tailwind for Halliburton's future.


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Dan Caplinger has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool is short shares of Equifax. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.