I've exhausted most of my puns when it comes to all the bad things that can happen to Precision Drilling Trust (NYSE:PDS). That's not a problem, however, because the company's third quarter was pretty great.

If you've followed my coverage over the past year or more, you know the Canadian land drilling market has been abysmal. Thanks in part to 14% more Canadian operating days -- meaning a busier fleet -- this was the first time that Precision reported a year-over-year improvement in earnings since the last quarter of 2006.

I believe the company's new directions are even more important contributors than Canadian activity levels. One direction is south, to the United States market. Precision, which embarked on this expansion a year ago, now has 28 rigs -- all working on term contracts -- in the lower 48. That's up from 17 just last quarter. The company clearly isn't having too much trouble winning over new oil and gas clients.

Precision's other direction, of course, is horizontal. As players like Chesapeake Energy (NYSE:CHK) and Petrohawk (NYSE:HK) continue to discover new unconventional plays, the demand for directional and horizontal drilling just keeps rising. Precision has about 70% of its Canadian rigs and more than 80% of its U.S. rigs drilling in this manner. Drilling out these laterals increases the number of days per well, and thus fattens the bottom line.

Of course, Precision could just be working inefficiently, which would also prop up operating days. But a look at average meters per day reveals that the company's working at just as high a level as last year. Average meters per well is the figure that's increasing. There's simply more drilling to be done on each job.

Now, Precision isn't the absolute cheapest driller on the block. That award probably has to go to either nuzzle-worthy Nabors Industries (NYSE:NBR) or Patterson-UTI (NASDAQ:PTEN). But the company has earned its market premium through performance, asset quality, and pricing and capital discipline. I don't think it would be a mistake to pay a little more for such attributes, especially at these prices.

Precision is a Global Gains recommendation. Chesapeake is an Inside Value selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletters free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.