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Oil Driller Comes Up Dry; Sector Slips

TULSA, Okla. ( TheStreet) -- Helmerich & Payne (HP - Get Report) reported expectedly weak earnings on a day when the entire oil services sector slipped.

Weak drilling activity across the U.S. was the primary culprit for a 59% drop in income: operating income for U.S. land operations was $90 million in the fourth quarter, compared with $158 million in Q4 2008. Operating revenue fell 38% to $362.2 million.

It might not be any consolation to the company or its investors, but Helmerich & Payne was far from the worst performer in the oil services segment of the energy market on a day when the entire energy sector dropped close to 2% by mid-afternoon. The stock was down 1.83% to $37.48.

In fact, just four of the 86 companies in the oil services sector were in positive territory during the day's trading session: North American Energy Partners (NOA) (+2.81%); Energy Services of America (ESA) (+1.64%); NuStar GP Holdings (NSH)(+0.33%); and Inergy Holdings (NRGP)(+0.30%).

Two stocks that looked liked winners but ending the day slightly to the downside were Boots & Coots (WEL)(-0.75%) and Allis-Chalmers Energy (ALY)(-0.28%).

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