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

Helmerich & Payne (HP)

Q3 2012 Earnings Call

July 27, 2012 11:00 am ET


Juan Pablo Tardio - Chief Financial Officer and Vice President

Hans C. Helmerich - Chief Executive Officer, President and Director

John W. Lindsay - Chief Operating Officer, Executive Vice President and Executive Vice President U S & International Operations-Helmerich & Payne International Drilling Co


Luke M. Lemoine - Capital One Southcoast, Inc., Research Division

Robin E. Shoemaker - Citigroup Inc, Research Division

Joe Hill - Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Co. Securities, Inc., Research Division

Kurt Hallead - RBC Capital Markets, LLC, Research Division

Michael K. LaMotte - Guggenheim Securities, LLC, Research Division

Tom Curran - Wells Fargo Securities, LLC, Research Division

Michael Fomuk - Wolverine Asset Management, LLC

Bradley M. Lundy - Ivory Investment Management, L.P.



Good day, and welcome to the Third Fiscal Quarter Earnings Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] And please note today's call is being recorded. I would now like to turn the call over to Juan Pablo Tardio, Vice President and CFO of Helmerich & Payne.

Juan Pablo Tardio

Thank you, and welcome, everyone. With us today are Hans Helmerich, Chairman and CEO; and John Lindsay, Executive Vice President and COO. As usual and as defined by the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, all forward-looking statements made during this call are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties as discussed in the company's annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. The company's actual results may differ materially from those indicated or implied by such forward-looking statements. We will also be making reference to certain non-GAAP financial measures such as segment's operating income and operating statistics. You may find the GAAP reconciliation comments and calculations on the last page of today's press release.

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.

Turning to our new build effort. We continue to make deliveries on time and on budget, including 11 new FlexRigs since our last webcast. We have 25 rigs that remain under construction that will roll off at a pace of 4 per month. As we mentioned on the last call, the ongoing rig rotation in the oil patch represents a kind of competition for new build orders as customers have taken a wait-and-see approach in terms of what rigs may become available. The added volatility and certainty we are discussing today has further quieted conversations at least at this point, and this is not a big surprise. Our experience reminds us that this also can turn around very quickly. In the meantime, our ongoing construction effort buys us some time. We suspect that the entire land industry is dialing back on new builds, resulting in around 150 AC drive rig deliveries for 2012. It's too early to predict 2013 except to say that the number of industry deliveries will be significantly less. Our own expectations after our last scheduled delivery in February 2013 are for things to start slowing but find traction as the year progresses. Our integrated effort affords us an important flexibility that should serve us well.

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