February 9, 2012 / 12:22 PM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 3-Precision Drilling pumped up on liquids hunt

* Q4 net profit C$28 mln vs loss of C$250,000

* Rev up 35 pct

* Shares up as much as 4 pct

By Aftab Ahmed

Feb 9 (Reuters) - Precision Drilling Corp swung to a fourth-quarter profit on increased oil-powered drilling in North America and plans to sign more contracts this year as the boom continues.

Canada’s No. 1 oil and gas driller handily beat Wall Street estimates, as rig daily rates jumped on high demand — which had also benefited peers such as Helmerich & Payne Inc.

Precision’s revenue per utilization day averaged 18 percent higher for rigs contracted in the United States while those in Canada saw a 16 percent rise.

“We believe that (Precision’s) 2012 consensus estimates will move higher on the better-than-expected day rates in both the U.S. and Canada,” Canaccord Genuity analysts John Tasdemir and Jason Bandel said in a note to clients.

Precision, which is running 274 rigs — about 75 percent of them targeting oil wells — said it was in active discussions to sign up contracts for more rigs.

“We expect Precision’s solid results to continue in the first quarter as winter drilling season in Canada is off to a fast start and any producer cutback should wait until after spring break-up,” UBS analyst Chad Friess said in a note.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company, which had ordered seven new rigs with long-term deals for two of them, said on Thursday it has signed contracts for three more.

New rigs with higher specification command better rates as they can be used in tougher conditions typical of oil drilling.

Precisions’s October-December net income was C$28 million ($28.13 million), or 10 Canadian cents per share, compared with a loss of C$250,000, a year ago.

Revenue rose 35 percent to C$587 million.

The company’s adjusted earnings of 43 Canadian cents a share beat analysts’ estimates of 28 Canadian cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Precision shares rose as much as 4 percent to C$11.78 before paring all its gains to trade at C$11.21 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Thursday. ($1 = 0.9954 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Aftab Ahmed in Bangalore; Editing by Don Sebastian)

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