Which is stronger -- greed or fear? What's more compelling -- quality or quantity? That's almost certainly an oversimplification, but it's a part of the analysis of drilling company Helmerich & Payne (NYSE:HP). It's certainly a quality operator and growing well today, but can investors in the land drilling space ever really rest easy?

As expected, this was another strong quarter for the company. Revenue rose 54% on the whole, and operating income more than doubled. Performance continues to be strong in both the onshore and offshore businesses, as utilization rates climb (now at 100% for U.S. onshore), and dayrates keep rising. What's more, I've not yet heard of any major company planning to cut back total drilling activity.

Whether you look at Baker Hughes' (NYSE:BHI) active rig counts or simply watch what's going on at companies like XTO Energy (NYSE:XTO), Devon (NYSE:DVN), and UltraPetroleum (AMEX:UPL), plenty of companies are sinking plenty of wells. Moreover, I have some firsthand accounts of drilling projects that have been delayed for lack of available equipment. Likewise, natural gas prices just don't seem like they want to fall into that sub-$6 range that would start to get scary for some of the more marginal producers.

But we're still talking about land drillers here -- a boom/bust sector of a boom/bust industry. Companies like Nabors (NYSE:NBR) and Patterson-UTI (NASDAQ:PTEN) continue to bring rigs online, and companies like Helmerich & Payne continue to build new ones. Sooner or later, supply and demand are going to meet up again, and you can say goodbye to the pressure that has been lifting dayrates so strongly.

I'd still argue, though, that Helmerich & Payne may not suffer the worst. Rig rates tend to correlate with rig complexity, and although land rigs in general are at the bottom of that scale, Helmerich's are by and large newer and more advanced. Moreover, in talking with drillers, it seems that they're regarded as meaningfully better than average on customer service.

Rising costs, rising supply, and uncertain gas prices are all valid reasons for worry, and the boom in drilling rates will end at some point. Investors may still have the chance to reap profits from this quality player, but I'd look to get in during another of those sectorwide swoons.

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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).