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Helmerich & Payne Soars On Earnings: Shorts Covering?

|Includes:Helmerich & Payne Inc. (HP)

I have written several times about Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP), the innovative developer of FlexRigs, specialized for unconventional oil and gas formations. More recently, I have highlighted their greatly-increased dividend payment, which I felt transformed the stock into much more of an attractive buy and hold situation. This was on top of my belief that it was attractive anyway for the long term, but in a time when investors are starved for income, this move was investor-friendly.

HP came out with a quarterly report today that was in-line on sales and minimally a "beat" on earnings. The company also reiterated some moderately bullish sentiments that the high oil price is likely to let earnings grow ahead of consensus this year (my interpretation of their comments).

Surprisingly, the stock is up around 5% pre-open. Why? Could it be a high short-selling ratio?

Settlement Date Short Interest Avg Daily Share Volume Days To Cover
7/15/2013 7,754,609 981,089 7.904083
6/28/2013 8,070,706 1,279,351 6.308438
6/14/2013 7,207,373 1,202,642  
Click to enlarge

Interesting. Is this an opportunity for HP holders to sell into a squeeze? What I want to know is why the shorts have shorted this name. It's annoying when a clean company with great products and a reasonable valuation sees heavy short selling. Sorry, shorts, this is a great company. Sure, their industry is cyclical, but so what?

Disclosure: I am long HP.

Additional disclosure: Not investment advice

Stocks: HP