* Q4 EPS $1.11 vs est $1.04
* Q4 rev up 25 pct
* Signs agreements with 3 cos to build 17 rigs
* Forecasts 2012 Capex at $1.1 bln, up 58 pct from last year
Nov 17 (Reuters) - Contract driller Helmerich & Payne Inc forecast higher demand from the oil and gas drilling boom in U.S. shales and signed contracts to buy 17 new rigs.
Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Helmerich sees 2012 capital expenditure at about $1.1 billion, up 58 percent from last year, and said at least three-fourths of the amount will be spent on the new rigs.
“We see a lot of demand in Eagle Ford and the Permian and the Bakken, so you would think there could be rig count growth,” a company executive said on a conference call with analysts.
As exploration and production companies move towards oil and liquids-rich targets, they are seeking increasingly complex well designs, helping companies like Helmerich which make highly specialized rigs.
The company, which has contracted 47 flexRigs this year, said its fourth-quarter results were boosted by deployment of these highly mobile rigs with advanced drilling technologies.
However, Helmerich shares were down 1 percent $54.39 in afternoon trade on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.
Fourth-quarter net profit was $1.11 a share. Analysts on average had expected the company to earn $1.04 a share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Revenue rose 25 percent to $700.7 million, compared with analysts’ estimates of $674.1 million.