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Parker Drilling Company (NYSE:PKD)

Q3 2011 Earnings Conference Call

November 3, 2011 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Richard Bajenski – Director, IR

Robert Parker – Chairman

David Mannon – President and CEO

Kirk Brassfield – SVP and CFO

Analysts

James West – Barclays Capital

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Walt Chancellor – Stephens

George Vanturo – Johnson Rice

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Parker Drilling Third Quarter 2011 Conference Call. During today’s presentation, all parties will be in a listen-only mode. Following the presentation, the conference will be open for questions. (Operator Instructions) This conference is being recorded today, Thursday, November 3, 2011.

I’d now like to turn the conference over to Richard Bajenski, please go ahead.

Richard Bajenski

Thank you, Marissa. And good morning and thank you all for joining the Parker Drilling 2011 third quarter conference call. This is Rich Bajenski, Director of Investor Relations. Joining me today are Bobby Parker, Executive Chairman; Dave Mannon, President and Chief Executive Officer; and Kirk Brassfield, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

In the course of our comments today, we will make statements regarding management’s expectations for the company’s future performance that we believe will be informative and beneficial to our shareholders. These statements are considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Act. Each forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date of this call and actual results may differ materially due to various factors we have referenced in our public filings and other factors addressed during this call, including changes in market conditions affecting our industry.

We will also refer to non-GAAP financial measures such as adjusted EBITDA and non-routine items. Please refer to the table in our current press release or on the company’s website for a definition of adjusted EBITDA and a reconciliation of this measure to the comparable GAAP measure and for further information regarding non-routine items.

I’ll start this off with Bobby Parker giving us a review. Bobby?

Robert Parker

Thanks, Rich, and welcome to our conference call. Earlier today we reported our 2011 third quarter results. David Mannon and Kirk Brassfield will review our performance and outlook in a moment. But before they do, I have a few thoughts to share on current events that are shaping our business and may be of interest to our investors.

Worldwide oil prices have been in a range that has been supportive of both short-term and long-term E&P activities. Generally speaking this has been good for upstream spending by most energy companies and for most energy markets. So I recognize there are certainly exceptions.

As long as the current range of prices is sustained, we would expect drilling to remain strong. I recognize that there are concerns about a slowdown or disruption in worldwide economic growth and how it might impact the E&P business. I won’t even venture a guess as to how that works out. While the IEA reports indicate that world oil demand is on the increase once again, we continue to watch closely how any changes in economic conditions around the world might impact that trend.

The focus at Parker will continue to be staying close to our customers so that we are ready to meet their needs, both in drilling or rental tools. To continue to shape Parker in ways that moderate the impact of the cycles inherent in our business like strengthening our diversification across markets, across locals, and across customers and to continue to grow organically through investments in ways that increase competitiveness of our operations and complement our diversification, like our investments in safety, training and now technology that enhance our operational competitiveness and our technical expertise for work on fit for purpose drilling solutions. In sum, these are all about growing our capabilities and achieving more consistent performance in a way that will provide reward for our investors throughout the cycles that define our industry.

That concludes my remarks. I’ll now turn this over to Dave Mannon to discuss our performance and outlook, Dave?

David Mannon

Thanks, Bobby. The highlights of the third quarter were sustained operating and financial performance of our Rental Tools segment and the continued day rate momentum in our US barge drilling business. In addition, our project management team initiated the O&M activities on a customer-owned Coral Sea Land rig in Papua New Guinea after having successfully completed its refurbishment and mobilization.

I applaud the individuals involved in the stage – in all stages of the Coral Sea project. Their diligent and safe and efficient work throughout, contributed greatly to the successful delivery of the rig and the award of the O&M contract to Parker. Our Coral Sea Team has worked IFO, incident-free operations through shipyard, mobilization and start-up of operation and PNG, which means no one got hurt, not even a band aid and no environmental issues. Here’s a more detailed review of our business segments.

Our Rental Tools segment continued to grow revenues and expand gross margin. Revenues increased 30% and segment gross margin increased 39% compared to the prior year’s third quarter. In the quarter we took delivery of, approximately $24 million of inventory, all of it to meet identified customer needs.

As expected, the addition of new inventory lowered the monthly reported tubular goods utilization index. Part of that is just due to the time it typically takes to receive and inspect incoming pipe before it goes out to a job. Another part is due to having received some pipe in advance of when the customer had committed to use it. These effects go away over time. And our current utilization levels reflect that with the latest one-week utilization rate being above the September and October levels.

In the US, Gulf of Mexico, our barge drilling business continued to benefit from improvements in utilization and day rates. In 2011 third quarter average utilization of our 13 rig fleet was 82%. This is effectively full utilization of our marketed 11 rigs.

Our fleet utilization rate was 81% for the prior quarter and 59% for the 2010 third quarter. The improvement in utilization has been accompanied by increased day rates. Our third quarter Gulf of Mexico barge drilling fleet average day rate was $28,200, up 41% from $20,000 per day in last year’s third quarter. Our current average day rate for comparable equipment is 4% higher than the third quarter average.

We have had a brief pause in deep gas drilling after an active summer with all three of our rigs with ultra deep well capabilities being idle for a time in October. However, two of the three are currently signed up for work that will begin in the fourth quarter and is expected to carry over into 2012.

Turning to our International Drilling segment, the third quarter average utilization was 46%, the same as for the preceding quarter. Last year’s third quarter comparable utilization rate was 54%. We had the equivalent of 12.6 rigs working during the 2011 third quarter.

In the Americas region, our 10 rig drilling fleet achieved 73% average utilization, a sequential increase from the 67% average utilization in the second quarter, though below last year’s third quarter average utilization of 86%.

The sequential improvement was due to resumption of drilling by a rig in Mexico, which was contracted during the third quarter. Year-to-year decline primarily due to the late 2010 termination of a rig that remains idle in Mexico. We are currently tendering that rig for projects in both Mexico and Colombia.

In the CIS/AME region, our 11-rig drilling fleet operated at 27% average utilization, unchanged from the prior quarter, and down from the prior year’s third quarter average utilization of 36%. The three rigs working in the region are all on contracts that extend into 2012.

Rig 257, our barge rig located in the Caspian Sea recently moved to location and has commenced drilling operations. We have made progress towards improved fleet utilization in this region. We recently signed a contract for our two rigs in Algeria. They are currently being mobilized and are expected to begin operations before year-end. In addition, we have six auto rigs in Kazakhstan, which we continue to market inside and outside the region.

In the Asia-Pacific region, our five rig drilling fleet operated at 46% average utilization, a sequential decline from the 55% average utilization of the prior quarter, and better than the prior year’s third quarter average utilization of 40%, for the same five-rig fleet. The decline in utilization since 2011 second quarter is a result of a break between contracts for one of the rigs in Indonesia. That rig is now under contract and waiting to be mobilized.

At the end of the quarter, the second rig in Indonesia completed its contracted work and is currently being marketed. The two rigs idle in New Zealand continue to be marketed in country, as well as in other markets in the region.

In Alaska, our two new-built arctic land rigs are on the North Slope and undergoing commissioning. We’re currently working with our customer, BP, to schedule acceptance testing.

Last quarter, I reported that our international rig fleet utilization appeared to have stabilized. That continues to hold true. After several quarters of the sequential declines in fleet utilization, conditions have improved somewhat. We ended the third quarter with one more rig under contract than at the beginning of the quarter.

I see the recent tender awards and contracts for the two rigs in Algeria as signs of sustainable activity.

Our project management and engineering service operations were active during the third quarter. Contributing to increased revenues and earnings this quarter were the Yastreb rig move in the Sakhalin Island. This is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter. The commencement of our operation of the Talisman-owned Coral Sea heli-rig in Papua New Guinea, our engagement in early engineering projects that could evolve into development work in future O&M opportunities.

Offsetting this were the transition of the Orlan platform to warm stack status ever after having been engaged in work over activities in the prior year’s third quarter. The transition of our involvement in the (inaudible) platform previously referred to as Arkutun-Dagi from engineering related work to construction oversight. And the end of the Liberty project which was active during last year’s third quarter.

Looking ahead through the end of the year, we expect further improvements in US markets and continued stability in international markets. We expect could growth in demand for rental tools in the US land drilling market. The current focus on liquid-rich shale drilling and the continued increase in footage drilled due to longer laterals should support continued demand for rental tools.

In addition, the recovery of deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico presents further opportunities. We’re continuing to focus on meeting customers’ needs and expect to purchase additional inventory to meet their requirements.

Drilling activity in shallow water of the Gulf of Mexico has led to improved utilization and higher day rates for the Gulf of Mexico barge drilling business. I believe a demand in the barge market will continue to be stable and supported by the current range of oil prices and interest in drilling deeper oil and gas prospects.

In our selected international drilling markets our rig utilization appears to have stabilized. The expected growth in international spending by E&P companies should provide good support for this level of business.

Rig tender activity in several markets where we operate has been good and contract awards are being made. The portfolio of our project management business and engineer service segment has grown to provide a foundation of activity. Some of the early stage engineering work, which we are currently engaged, could lead to expanded projects related work over time.

We expect to enhance our growth potential by continued investment in our four strengths, safety, training, technology, and performance, the four pillars on which we have built our position as a preferred drilling contractor and service provider. Our goal is to leverage these to differentiate the Parker brand to support growth and create more value-based offerings for our customer.

Now, I will turn the call over to Kirk Brassfield to discuss our financial results. Kirk?

Kirk Brassfield

Thanks, Dave. For the third quarter 2011, we reported earnings of $0.18 per share. There was one non-routine item in the third quarter, a 1.5 million pre-tax expense related to the ongoing US regulatory investigation and our internal review regarding possible violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and other laws. Excluding this non-routine item, Parker earned 21.7 million in net income or $0.18 per diluted share. Comparable result for last year’s third quarter $0.01 per diluted share.

Turning to ongoing operations, Rental Tools segment revenues, $62.4 million and segment gross margin 43.7 million. The strength of this business is attributable to the increase in use of lateral drilling in US land drilling markets, particularly in the liquid-rich shale plays, our continued investments in rental tools inventory, and our ability to position our products to best serve customer needs and meet market demand.

The US Drilling segment reported third quarter revenues of 28.9 million, and segment gross margin of 11.5 million. The significant year-to-year increase in third quarter revenues and gross margin is due to a higher average day rate and increase in rig utilization.

Our International Drilling segment reported third quarter revenues of 51.4 million, and segment gross margin of 14.6 million. The 2010 third quarter included revenue and gross margin benefits from a 3.2 million early termination fee and operating expenses from 8 million of property and VAT tax adjustments. Excluding those, segment revenues and gross margins increased due to higher average day rates in all three regions that more than offset the effects of lower utilization in the Americas and CIS/AME regions.

Project Management and Engineering Services segment revenues were 34 million for the 2011 third quarter and gross margin was 7.9 million. Higher amounts of reimbursed expenses for the combined Sakhalin Island operation and Coral Sea, heli-rig project were significant contributors to revenue increase. In addition, revenues and gross margin for the segment benefited from the Yastreb rig move on Sakhalin, the Coral Sea operations and maintenance contract awarded earlier this year and an increase in engineering work for perspective customer programs. These were partially offset by the impact of the phase-out of the Liberty project and transitioned to a lower-revenue producing phase of work on the Berkut platform. Construction contract segment has had no activity since the Liberty contract ended in February of this year.

G&A expense in the third quarter was 8.8 million compared with the prior year’s third quarter expense of 7.1 million. Both quarters included expenses related to the DOJ SEC and our internal investigations. Excluding these, adjusted G&A for the 2011 third quarter was 7.2 million, compared with the similarly adjusted G&A expense of 6.1 for the 2010 third quarter. This increase was primarily due to higher professional fees. Interest expense was 5.6 million in the third quarter, below the prior year’s quarterly expense of 6.4, due primarily to a higher amount of capitalized interest. Our cash balance at quarter end, 103.1 million compared to 51.4 million at the end of 2010.

Capital expenditures were 141.8 million, year-to-date, which included rental tool purchases of 54.3 million, and Alaska reconstruction spending of 69 million. Upon completion, the projected total cost of the two Artic land rigs were approximately, 290 million before capitalized interest. At the end of the third quarter, we had 487.2 million of debt outstanding, or a net debt position of 384.1 million. Our net-to-debt capitalization ratio, at quarter end was 37.8%. On the balance sheet our 125 million principal amount of 208 convertible notes were reclassified to current as they mature in July 2012. We intend to refinance the notes prior to maturity and are actively considering alternatives.

That ends the financial review. And Marissa, we’re ready to take questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator Instructions) Our first question comes from the line of James West (Barclays Capital). Please go ahead.

James West – Barclays Capital

Hi, good morning, guys.

David Mannon

Good morning, James.

James West – Barclays Capital

Dave, you mentioned rig tender and activity has been picking up. I was wondering if you could just address which markets specifically you’re seeing the most incremental demand? I know, of course, Algeria, you saw some rigs go back to work. Mexico seems to be an area, but what – outside of those two, perhaps, which other markets are you seeing good increases in tendering activity today?

David Mannon

Well, just to start on those two, James, so we’ve had some increased activity in Mexico, which has led to a rig going back to work there. And we also have additional opportunities for the auto rig in Mexico. Moving also to Algeria yes, our two rigs have gone back to work based on our previous tender activity but there’s a new tender package that is being led in Algeria that will – we will be bidding on and we hope to add to our rig count in Algeria in 2012. In Colombia, we’ve had some increase tender activity as well. Really, those are the three markets that we’ve had increases in activities.

James West – Barclays Capital

Okay. And then, on the rigs that have gone back to work here recently, have you seen any movement at all, either up or down, on day rates?

David Mannon

We haven’t. They’ve been pretty well flat. As I’ve talked about in the past, we haven’t really seen a dip in day rates since 2009. And so, it really hasn’t been a question of pricing, it has just been a question of activity in getting our rigs back to work.

James West – Barclays Capital

Okay. And then, any updated thoughts about Iraq at this point I mean, we’re at the point now where a lot of rigs are going to work, all of the big service companies have contracts. The rigs that are there are, I guess, neighbor’s rigs and Chinese rigs and of course neighbors is having issues in some cases getting the rigs into the country, any chance you might decide to enter Iraq?

David Mannon

Yes. We’ve looked at Iraq and we continue to look at Iraq at this present time we do not have interest in going into that country. We think that there’s a considerable amount of risk in Iraq and commensurate to the size of our company we think that that risk is not consistent with our strategic plan.

James West – Barclays Capital

Okay. Then just one final question for me, for Kirk, do you have a sense – sorry if I missed this but our CapEx for 2012?

Kirk Brassfield

No, we’re going through that process and we have not given any numbers yet as to 2012.

James West – Barclays Capital

Do you have – directionally, up or down? I assume biggest down with the land rigs?

David Mannon

Yes. We’ll complete the two land rigs and we would expect that to go downward.

James West – Barclays Capital

Right.

David Mannon

For 2012.

James West – Barclays Capital

Okay. Great, thanks, guys.

David Mannon

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of Matt Beeby, with Global Hunter Securities. Please go ahead.

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Thank you, good morning, guys.

David Mannon

Good morning, Matt.

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Dave, could you maybe give a little color on the Talisman project that impacted project management about when that might have started during the third quarter?

David Mannon

Well, we’ve had work, shipyard work and mobilization work in the last two quarters, in the second and third quarter and commenced operations right at the end of the third quarter.

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Are you referring to the O&M contract starting for the third quarter?

David Mannon

Yes. So the O&M contracts commenced operations right at the end of the third quarter. So, we’ll see the full benefit of that contract in the fourth quarter.

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Sure. You mentioned, also, the potential for rental tool improvement as it relates to recovery in the US Gulf deepwater, can you, again, remind us, previous contribution, previous market share what that looked like pre-Macondo?

David Mannon

We had about 10% market share in that business. If you remember, right after the days of Macondo, we were off about $1 million a month and so we’ve caught all of that back. We do have – still have some idle strings of – landing strings that are available for hire. So, with the recent permit activity in the Gulf of Mexico, with select customers that we have worked for in the past, we anticipate some of those idle strings going to work here in the fourth quarter and, also, first quarter of next year.

Matt Beeby – Global Hunter Securities

Okay. Thanks, Dave.

Operator

Thank you. And our next question comes from the line of John Keller with Stephens, Inc. Please go ahead.

Walt Chancellor – Stephens

Hi, this is Walt Chancellor for John Keller. So margins were strong in International Drilling segment, big sequential improvement what’s driving that is that all day rate? Are there any other or transitory items in there?

David Mannon

I think the majority and I’ll let Kirk to also speak to this but the majority of the margin improvement internationally was 257, our Caspian barge rate, going from a standby rate into a pre-operational rate in the third quarter and then, in the fourth quarter, it’s going to be – have the full benefit of the operating rate, Walt.

Walt Chancellor – Stephens

Okay. So, moving forward, this level or stronger is likely indicative of where you see margins in 2012?

David Mannon

We haven’t – we don’t provide forecasts going forward. Walt, so I’m not going to comment on what we’re going to do in 2012.

Walt Chancellor – Stephens

Okay. To follow-up, do you see the potential to get back to some of those higher levels that we had in the past, are the international business in ‘08 or ‘09?

David Mannon

What we’ve – what we’ve said in our prepared remarks was we believe that the international market has stabilized. We still have a number of idle assets, both in the CIS, Asia-Pacific, and also in Latin American regions. Our challenge is to get those rigs back to work. And with that, we’ll see a continued improvement in our margins. As far as timing with that, I’m not going to forecast when that’s going to come. What I have said is, is that we have some tender activity in both in the Latin America and in the CIS/AME region.

Walt Chancellor – Stephens

All right. Thank you very much.

David Mannon

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) Our next question comes from the line of George Vanturo with Johnson Rice. Please go ahead.

George Vanturo – Johnson Rice

Hey, guys, thanks for taking the call.

David Mannon

Sure.

George Vanturo – Johnson Rice

Just looking for a little clarity on the two Alaskan new build rigs. Sounded like they are undergoing commissioning right now. Do we have any update in terms of the timing those should come online?

David Mannon

Well, as I said in my prepared remarks, we’re waiting on scheduling our customer acceptance. And so really that’s all I can say at that time about timing. What I will say – these are new technology rigs, and so we’re not really sure how long this customer acceptance program is going to last.

George Vanturo – Johnson Rice

Okay. Great. And then, I guess, second question, in terms of the International Drilling segment, with regard to the six idle rigs that you have in Kazakhstan, obviously, you mentioned that you’re working on marketing some of those inside of the region as well as outside. Can you talk a little bit about some of the areas that you’re marketing outside of that region and where you expect to see the best opportunities there?

David Mannon

Sure. We’re marketing those rigs in Kazakhstan as well as in Turkmenistan and also are in Russia. So the surrounding countries we’re marketing – that’s inside the region. Outside of the region, there is a couple of rigs that would be or could be appropriate for our Algerian operations, and so we anticipate tendering those rigs into the future tenders in Algeria to potentially grow that area.

George Vanturo – Johnson Rice

Great. I appreciate it.

David Mannon

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) And our next question comes from the line of Gary Stromberg with Barclays Capital. Please go ahead.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Hi. Good morning.

David Mannon

Hello, Gary.

Kirk Brassfield

Good morning, Gary.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Good morning. You’ve talked about you’re looking at options to refinance the converts. Can you talk about what options are out there and what you’re thinking about?

David Mannon

Yes, Gary. I mean, we’re looking at – either we can look at an add-on to our existing or we may look at a new high yield. Obviously, it’s just another option, too. We, obviously, have the ability even within our balance sheet with the cash on hand or even within the revolving credit to take care of the converts. So we’re looking at all options. We still have a little bit of time just to make sure to see when the market is right. So we’ll continue to monitor that.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Okay. And then, just to clarify in terms of capital, is the 2011 budget still $160 million?

David Mannon

I think the last budget number we gave was 165 for the capital budget for 2011.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

And James asked about 2012, directionally. You think 2012 will be lower. Is that what you said? I missed the response.

David Mannon

Yes, Gary. If you remember, the majority of that 165 went to the two rigs in Alaska. So we see that – we’ll look at other opportunities and the best use of the money.

Kirk Brassfield

Yeah. And I’ll just add on to that, Gary, is that we continue to see opportunities in our Rental Tools section of our business. As I reported in our call, we’ve delivered $24 million with an inventory in the third quarter. And we’re just catching up with the demand that’s currently there. And so we’re anticipating adding to that capital in 2012.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Okay. And then how about on the barge side – any appetite to add rigs there? I know there are some assets that are out there.

Kirk Brassfield

Yeah. We have two idle rigs that are currently not being marketed. One of those rigs, which I believe is 55B, we started on a construction program in 2008, of which we stopped that program in the first quarter of 2009 because of market conditions. We anticipate potentially looking at bringing that rig out in 2012 at some point in time. Once again, we’re going to closely watch the market. So we will be opportunistic to bring that rig out and we’ll bring that rig out with the close alignment with a customer program.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Okay. And then the final one for me is, how busy are you guys in the project management side in terms of looking at new opportunities bringing Pre-FEED deals and turning them into signed deals. Do you have any success there?

David Mannon

Well, the project management business is a – as I’ve said in the past, there’s a period of time where you are working on Pre-FEED projects of which some of those are sanctioned and they go into Feed and then EPCI and then O&M. So some evidences of that is the procured project, which started in a Pre-FEED and we announced a FEED project analysis in construction. So we do have some other projects that are currently in Pre-FEED, not all of these projects actually get sanctioned. So we earn revenues on these projects and our engineers are hard at work on those projects. But there’s really nothing to announce at this point. We anticipate some of these will be sanctioned and go forward and some of these will not. And so, we have a – what I would consider a pretty full hopper right now. And so we anticipate having something to come to market sometime in 2012.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Okay. That’s all I had. Thank you.

David Mannon

Good, thanks.

Kirk Brassfield

Thank you, Gary.

Gary Stromberg – Barclays Capital

Thanks.

Operator

Thank you. And at this time, I’m not showing any further questions. I would now like to turn it back over to management. Please go ahead.

Richard Bajenski

Great, Marissa. Thank you for your help on this call. I want to thank all those who are listening in for joining us here for this call. And we look forward giving you updates on our progress as time goes on. Have a good morning or good afternoon.

Operator

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, that does conclude our conference call for today. Thank you for your participation. You may now disconnect.

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