Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 grew to $102.8 million, compared to revenues of $93.5 million for the first quarter of fiscal 2007. This 10% increase in revenues was generated primarily by a 16% increase in the number of rigs in Pioneer Drilling's fleet during the period from an average of 56.7 rigs in the first quarter of fiscal 2007 to an average of 65.7 rigs. Average revenue per revenue day for all types of contracts was $19,079 in the first quarter of fiscal 2008 compared to $19,154 per day in the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Average drilling margin(1) per revenue day was $7,237 in the first quarter of fiscal 2008, down from $9,004 in the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Net earnings for the first quarter of fiscal 2008 were $13.1 million, or $0.26 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $19.5 million, or $0.39 per diluted share, for the first quarter of fiscal 2007.
Revenue days during the first quarter of fiscal 2008 increased to 5,387, compared to 4,881 revenue days for the first quarter of fiscal 2007. Pioneer Drilling's rig utilization rate was 90% for the first quarter of fiscal 2008, down from 95% in the first quarter of fiscal 2007.
Currently, 25 of the Company's 66 rigs, or 38%, are operating under term contracts of six months to two years. Five of the term contracts will expire in the current quarter, and an additional six will expire during the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Term contracts cover approximately 3,126 revenue days, or 31%, of the remainder of calendar 2007 and 3,059 revenue days, or 13%, of calendar 2008.
Wm. Stacy Locke, Pioneer Drilling's President and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "We are pleased to announce that our 66th rig, the last of our 15-rig new build program, began operations under a three year term contract in Utah at the end of April 2007. We believe our modern rig fleet positions us well for sustained earnings through the current tenuous market conditions. While dayrates appear to be leveling off, as compared to the steep declines which began in December 2006, they continue to be soft and will likely continue to drift lower until natural gas prices improve and/or excess rigs in the U.S. are absorbed."
"In addition, we have initiated our expansion into the international market, which is not experiencing the same softness as the domestic market. We recently acquired two newly-built 1500 horsepower SCR rigs and contracted for the purchase of a third 1500 horsepower SCR rig. These rigs are the first of our fleet designated for our Latin America expansion. We are excited to announce the execution of our first drilling contract in South America. The rig is currently moving to its first location south of Bogota, Colombia, and should begin operations at the end of August. Based on the status of current negotiations and outstanding bids, we believe that our remaining two rigs designated for Latin America will begin operations later this year or early next year," added Mr. Locke.
"We believe we are well positioned to take advantage of the international market, where demand remains strong and the supply of rigs is tight," continued Mr. Locke, "Our solid domestic exposure and continuing strong cash flow provides the foundation for a successful international effort. As we successfully establish our initial base of operations in Colombia, we intend to prudently expand our international operations into other parts of Latin America. Our expansion into Colombia and other Latin American countries provides the possibility of increased drilling margins during the challenging period we are facing in the U.S., geographical diversification and access to a new customer base."
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