Helmerich & Payne, Inc. (HP)

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Helmerich & Payne Inc. (HP)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

January 27, 2011 11:00 am ET

Executives

Juan Pablo Tardio - VP and CFO

Hans Helmerich - President and CEO

John Lindsay - EVP and COO

Mike Drickamer - Director of IR

Analysts

Robin Shoemaker - Citi

Arun Jayaram - Credit Suisse

Scott Gruber - Bernstein Research

Joe Hill - Tudor, Pickering, Holt

Victor Marchon - RBC Capital Markets

Dave Wilson - Howard Weil

John Daniel - Simmons & Company

Thomas Curran - Wells Fargo

Waqar Syed - Macquarie Capital

Thad Vayda - Stifel Nicolaus

Mike Breard - Hodges Capital

Presentation

Operator

Good day, and welcome to the Helmerich & Payne first quarter earnings conference call. All lines are currently in a listen-only mode. Later, you will have the opportunity to ask questions during the question-and-answer session. And please note the call is being recorded. It's now my pleasure to turn the conference over to Juan Pablo Tardio, Vice President and CFO at Helmerich & Payne, Inc. Please go ahead.

Juan Pablo Tardio

Thank you and welcome, everyone. With us today are Hans Helmerich, President and CEO, John Lindsay, Executive Vice President and COO, and Mike Drickamer, Director of Investor Relations. I will make some general introductory comments and will then turn the call to Hans for his and John's comments.

As usual, 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 operating income and operating statistics. You may find the GAAP reconciliation comments and calculations on the last page of today's press release.

Income from continuing operations during the first fiscal quarter resulted in approximately $104 million or $0.96 in diluted earnings per share, representing a 25% increase in earnings as compared to the immediately preceding quarter. The significant improvement was primarily driven by a 33% increase in operating income corresponding to our US Land Operations, which sequentially reported a 6% increase in quarterly revenue days and a 15% increase in average rig margins per day.

Although, we expect market conditions in the US to remain strong and perhaps even continue to improve during the second fiscal quarter, we also expect to experience a decline in our International land segment in terms of both activity and margins. Given the increased number of customer commitments that we have for new FlexRigs to be completed this year and the level of rig component orders that are required to ensure our ability to effectively respond to additional new FlexRig demand, our capital spending estimate for fiscal 2011 has increased from $600 million, as previously disclosed, to approximately $750 million.

At this point, we plan to fully fund the capital spending from existing cash and from cash to be provided by operating activities during the remainder of the fiscal year. If needed, however, we have ample access to additional funding through our existing $400 million revolving credit facility. The company's debt level declined from $360 million at the end of the last fiscal year to $350 million at the end of this first fiscal quarter, and the corresponding debt to cap ratio remains at approximately 11%. Interest expenses after capitalized interest are expected to total slightly under $4 million per quarter during the remainder of fiscal 2011.

Our investment portfolio, primarily comprised of 8 million shares of Atwood Oceanics and 967,500 shares of Schlumberger, recently had a pre-tax market value of slightly over $400 million, and an after-tax value of approximately $260 million. Our tax rate for continuing operations during the remaining quarters of fiscal 2011 is at this point, expected to be approximately 37%.

I will now turn the call to Hans Helmerich, President and CEO, and after Hans and John Lindsay have made their comments, we will open the call for questions.

Hans Helmerich

Thanks, Juan Pablo, and good morning. We are encouraged by the progress we posted during the company's first quarter. Our US domestic business was stronger than we had expected, achieving both increases in revenues and declines in expenses. We're also pleased to announce eight additional new build orders. Before John takes us through the operating detail, allow me to make a couple of comments on general market conditions.

Strong oil prices and the ability of our customers to shift their drilling targets to oil and gas liquids rich plays has been a very positive driver for the service providers in the US market. For at least 30 years, the fortunes of the domestic oilfield service business were closely tied to the ups and downs of natural gas pricing. While natural gas will be critical to the future of the domestic energy picture and to our business, we now have nearly 60% of our US fleet drilling for oil and gas liquids versus a more traditional dry gas target.

As the oil count marches toward the 800 rig level, customers are incorporating much of the new technology and complex well designs that have made the gas shale plays such a game changer. Not long ago, a shift to oil drilling would have been considered a negative for us since so much of the activity used to be shallow, vertical, bread-and-butter type drilling. Well that has changed today; with the strong emphasis on directional and horizontal drilling, the new mix plays to our strengths.

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