NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Despite some signs of stabilization in weak oil prices, some analysts predict that a bottom won't be reached until about $40 per barrel, which isn't good for oil drillers such as Helmerich & Payne (HP - Get Report) , which is slated to report fiscal first-quarter results on Thursday.
Shares of the Tulsa, Okla.-based company closed Tuesday at $63.81, down 0.67%, and the stock has lost more than 44% of its value in the past six months.
Investors must realize that despite the stock being down more than 5% year to date, things can still get worst. Helmerich & Payne has the making of a falling knife, at least until oil prices are firmly above $50 per barrel.
Part of the reason is the glut of oil that is already in the market. There isn't enough to demand to warrant more drilling.
Making matters worse is that Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries won't cut back on output and is keeping its stance of "letting the market fix itself." That was its idea when oil prices were about $60 per barrel, but they are now about $46.
The company said on Jan. 7 that day rates for its high-technology rigs have plummeted 10% since the last quarter.
And due to the continued the decline of crude oil prices, Helmerich & Payne expects the softness to continue.
"Drilling activity and spot day rate pricing are now expected to significantly decline in the U.S.," the company said in a presentation that it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Helmerich & Payne said that its available number of FlexRigs have climbed to 26, from 15 since Dec. 11.
And from its total of 287 FlexRigs, the company projects that possibly 40 to 50 more will become idle in the next 30 days.
In other words, the rigs may be idle for an extended period of time.
Day rates, a closely watched metric in the drilling industry, are the lifeblood of oil producers.
The amount of money that a drilling contractor such as Helmerich & Payne gets paid is based on the number of days that its rig stays in operation. And to the extent that its entire fleet of rigs remains operable each day, Helmerich & Payne makes more money.
On the flip side, the company loses money when its rigs are idle.
Following the announcement, analysts at SunTrust slashed Helmerich & Payne's 2015 earnings-per-share estimates by 53%.
SunTrust now expects the company to earn just $2.60 a share for the fiscal year, below consensus estimates of $5.56.
In addition, SunTrust lowered its price target to $56, from $70, meaning that the stock is trading almost 14% above what SunTrust thinks it is worth.