Driller Helmerich and Payne's earnings top estimates as activity rebounds

DENVER, April 27 (Reuters) - U.S. drilling contractor Helmerich & Payne (HP.N) on Wednesday beat Wall Street estimates for second-quarter earnings, as surging oil and gas prices have boosted demand for its services and equipment.

During the quarter, the company said its number of active oil rigs rose to 171 from 154 in the previous quarter. It anticipates exiting the current quarter with 175 active rigs, it said in a release.

Last month, oil prices hit their highest level in over a decade and remain elevated at over $100 a barrel as Russia's invasion of Ukraine has stoked uncertainty around global supplies.

Soaring prices have boosted demand for drilling equipment and services, with the U.S. rig count currently at 695, up from 438 a year ago, according to Baker Hughes.

"The industry rig count increase in the March quarter continued to shrink the availability of super-spec rigs that have worked at some point in the last two years, compounding the pre-existing supply-demand constraints in the market," said Helmerich and Payne Chief Executive Officer John Lindsay in a release.

The company said its net loss narrowed sharply to $5 million, or 5 cents per share, for the second quarter from a loss of $121 million, or $1.13 per share, a year ago. Wall Street analysts had anticipated a loss of 32 cents per share, according to Refinitiv IBES.

Shares of Helmerich and Payne were up more than 3% in after-hours trading at $44.04. Earlier, they closed at $42.73, up 1.3%.

Meanwhile, hydraulic fracturing firm NexTier Oilfield Solutions (NEX.N) on Wednesday said the frac market was near full utilization, echoing sentiments shared by rivals Liberty Oilfield Services and Halliburton last week.

NexTier said it averaged 33 deployed frac fleets in the quarter ended March 31, 2022. The company expects to average 34 fleets in the current quarter and does not anticipate adding any additional capacity to the market this year, it said in a release.

Reporting by Liz Hampton in Denver; editing by Bernard Orr and David Gregorio

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