Helmerich & Payne Post First Quarter Earnings, Has 42 Rigs Stacked

Helmerich & Payne has reported record net income of $145,275,000 ($1.36 per diluted share) from operating revenues of $623,754,000 for its first fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2008, compared with net income of $107,830,000 ($1.02 per diluted share) from operating revenues of $456,663,000 during last year's first fiscal quarter ended December 31, 2007. Included in this year's first quarter net income are after-tax gains from insurance proceeds and the sale of drilling equipment of $753,000 ($.01 per diluted share). Last year's first quarter net income included $3,714,000 ($.03 per diluted share) of gains from the sale of portfolio securities, insurance proceeds and drilling equipment.

Segment operating income for U.S. land operations was $194,048,000 for this year's first quarter, compared with $143,841,000 for last year's first quarter and $158,724,000 for last year's fourth quarter. The significant increase as compared to the prior quarter was mostly driven by higher average revenue and margins per rig day during this year's first quarter. Average revenue per day rose by $2,032 over the previous quarter to $27,066, and average rig margin per day rose by $1,657 over the previous quarter to $14,820. Approximately $1,100 per day of the average rig revenue and margin per day was primarily a result of early contract termination payments earned during this year's first quarter. Rig utilization was 95% for this year's first quarter, compared with 95% for last year's first quarter and 98% for last year's fourth quarter. The Company had 24 rigs stacked by the end of the first fiscal quarter. As a result of continued reduction in customers' spending, the Company has approximately 42 rigs stacked as of January 29, 2009.

During the quarter, the Company completed the construction of nine FlexRigs(R)* under long-term contracts. At the pace of approximately three rigs per month, the Company is scheduled to continue to complete the construction of rigs that are under previously announced long-term contracts. In the U.S. Land segment, approximately 56% of the Company's potential revenue days for the remainder of fiscal 2009 are committed to work for customers under term contracts, and approximately 42% are committed during fiscal 2010.
President and C.E.O. Hans Helmerich commented, "Exploration and production companies are currently being very aggressive about reducing their drilling plans in the near term, responding to the double blow of depressed energy prices and dysfunctional credit markets. Given the speed and severity of the current pullback, it is difficult to predict when supply and demand will return to a better balance. Until then, customers seem to be waiting to see where commodity prices stabilize before making final determinations concerning this year's spending plans."

Segment operating income for the Company's offshore operations was $14,710,000 for this year's first quarter, compared with $4,114,000 for last year's first quarter and $13,664,000 for last year's fourth quarter. Rig utilization in the offshore segment was 89% during this year's first quarter, compared with 56% during last year's first quarter and 89% during last year's fourth quarter. As compared to the preceding quarter, average rig margins per day during this year's first quarter increased by $1,191 to $23,589. Eight of the Company's nine offshore platform rigs were active in the first quarter, and the ninth rig began receiving stand-by revenue in January 2009 and is expected to commence drilling operations in the third fiscal quarter.

Segment operating income for the Company's international land operations was $22,628,000 for this year's first quarter, compared with $21,156,000 for last year's first quarter and $18,573,000 for last year's fourth quarter. Rig utilization in this segment was 98% during this year's first quarter, compared with 81% during last year's first quarter and 97% during last year's fourth quarter. Average rig margins per day during this year's first quarter increased by $1,173 to $12,417 in this segment as compared to the preceding quarter. International markets, however, have experienced reduced drilling activity, and seven of the Company's international land rigs are idle as of January 29, 2009. The Company expects additional rigs to become idle during the second fiscal quarter, especially in Venezuela. All eleven of the Company's rigs in Venezuela were active during the first fiscal quarter. However, accounts receivable collections from the Company's customer, PDVSA, have slowed considerably over the last few months. The receivable balance from PDVSA is approaching $100 million.

Accordingly, the Company is ceasing operations on rigs as their drilling contracts expire. Two of the Company's eleven rigs in Venezuela have recently ceased operations, and it is expected that further cessations will idle a total of five rigs in that country by the end of February 2009. Absent any improvement of receivable collections, the remaining rigs would probably become idle by the end of July of this year. A more detailed discussion of Venezuelan risks is contained in the "Risk Factors" and "Management's Discussion & Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" sections of the Form 10-K filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 26, 2008.

On January 22, 2009, the Company reported the closing of a 364-day bank credit facility totaling $105,000,000. This closing represents an increase in the Company's available credit facilities from $400 million to $505 million, over thirty percent of which is currently undrawn. It is anticipated that these credit facilities, along with internally generated cash flow, will fully fund the Company's capital spending program for fiscal 2009 which is now projected to be approximately $850 million. About $250 million of the $850 million has already been spent during the first quarter. Most of the capital spending for this year is related to the completion of the new FlexRigs scheduled for operations under long-term commitments with attractive returns for the Company. After the new $105 million credit facility expires early in calendar 2010, the $400 million credit facility will remain in effect until November 2011.
 

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