What happened

Shares of Helix Energy Solutions Group Inc. (HLX -1.66%) surged on Tuesday, rising more than 13% at 10:45 a.m. EDT after the company reported better-than-expected first-quarter results.

So what

Helix Energy Solutions hauled in $164.3 million of revenue during the first quarter, which was 57% above the year-ago quarter and beat expectations by $18.3 million. Earnings also came in ahead of the consensus estimate. While the oil and gas services company posted a net loss of $2.6 million, or $0.02 per share, that was $0.04 per share ahead of expectations and a significant improvement from the year-ago loss of $16.4 million, or $0.11 per share.

Offshore oil and gas vessels at sunset.

Image source: Getty Images.

Several factors drove the much-improved performance. First, the company introduced a new offshore service vessel during the quarter, which started working for a customer right away. It also benefited from a full quarter of work for another service vessel that recently entered service. Finally, several of the company's legacy vessels were under contract and earning revenue for nearly the entire quarter. Because of that, vessel utilization in some regions was the highest it has been in quite some time.

Now what

The offshore drilling market is finally starting to improve, which is having a notable impact on Helix Energy Solutions' financial results. Given that oil prices are at their highest level in more than three years, that rebound appears likely to continue in the coming quarters. While it could be a bumpy ride, Helix Energy Solutions stock could have more room to run.