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Helmerich & Payne Management Discusses Q3 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

I will now turn the call over to Hans Helmerich.

Hans C. Helmerich

Thank you, Juan Pablo. Good morning, everybody. We're pleased to report the company achieved an all-time record level of quarterly income from continuing operations. This is a nice milestone made possible by, literally, thousands of H&P employees who work hard every day to exceed our customers' expectations. We have discussed on a number of these calls the impressive rotation from dry gas direct drilling oil NGL and NGL directed targets. There's been a steady 3-year upward march in oil directed drilling that had been more than enough to offset a slowly deteriorating dry gas drilling rig count. Then, a couple things happened earlier this year. Natural gas prices plunged beneath $2 per mcf and the gas directed rig count dropped by over 1/3, reaching a 13-year low. Next, the oil rig count received a jolt at the time of our last call. WTI prices were over $105, but by the end of the quarter, the oil prices have fallen to $77 and changed. While both oil and gas prices have recovered some lately, the $100 question focuses on what happens next, particularly to the future price of oil. Certainly, that answers entangled with macroeconomic headlines of the euro crisis, the ongoing Middle East turmoil and the sense for a slowing world economy, but the volatility and uncertainty is weighing on the minds of our customers and impacting their spending in the field. I think the right question to ask at the onset of what appears to be a somewhat softening cycle is how deep and will the pain go and how long will it last. While our sense is that the duration and the depth of this slowdown will be on the milder side, I can't think of a time in the company's history that we've been better positioned for the uncertainty ahead. In addition to our quality fleet profile and strong balance sheet, we've never had a more robust term contract coverage. Today, 157 FlexRigs or about 2/3 of our active fleet are under long-term contracts in the U.S. land market. Moreover, we already have in place today an average of 136 FlexRigs under term contract during fiscal 2013 and still an average of 95 FlexRigs under term contracts during fiscal 2014. These rigs are expected to generate average daily rig margins that are higher than the average reported in the segment during this third fiscal quarter. In addition, today, we have 13 rigs under term contracts internationally, as well as 2 platform rigs. Most of these 15 rigs are already contracted through fiscal 2014.

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