With the price of a barrel of oil recently hitting $80, there should be plenty of new oil platforms needing helicopter service over the next few years. Also, because oil platforms are rarely shut down completely if the price of oil falls, CHC Helicopter may be less vulnerable to an oil downturn than the companies it serves.
Increased drilling for oil has already shown up on CHC Helicopter's bottom line; the company just reported impressive earnings. Excluding a one-time gain on the sale of its Survival-One subsidiary, net earnings increased 31% over the year-ago quarter, while revenue increased 21%.
The company's revenue depends upon three factors: the number of helicopters it operates, the price it can charge its customers, and the number of hours each helicopter is flown. Since the company ended the quarter with only two more helicopters than last year in its 254-chopper fleet, and the number of hours flown increased only 10% in that time, most of the company's revenue growth came from increased rates paid by customers.
Over the next three quarters, CHC Helicopter expects to take delivery of 30 new helicopters, while selling 14. That should increase the fleet size by 6% while removing many older aircraft. Newer helicopters should lower maintenance expenses, allow for increased hours flown per helicopter, and lead to increased rates on new contracts.
While the next couple of quarters should bring continued revenue and earnings growth, CHC Helicopter is poised for long-term growth, with orders for 35 more helicopters for delivery more than one year in the future, and a large contract recently signed with Statoil
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Fool contributor Michael Goode is an investor who lives in St. Louis. Going by the handle EverydayInvestor, he is one of the top 60 players on Motley Fool CAPS. He has no position in any company mentioned.