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Oct 31 (Reuters) - Ensco Plc, owner of the world's second-largest offshore drilling fleet, reported on Wednesday a higher-than-expected quarterly profit, helped by strengthening demand for its most capable rigs and some new additions to the fleet.
Third-quarter net profit rose to $344 million, or $1.48 per share, from $205 million, or 88 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding some items, Ensco earned $1.53 per share, whereas analysts on average had expected $1.30 per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue grew 23 percent to $1.12 billion.
The start-ups of two new deepwater rigs this year, along with better rates for all its deepwater rigs, gave a big lift to earnings in the quarter, the London-based company said.
"Ensco's growth will continue as we complete the construction of six additional rigs that will be delivered through the end of 2014," Chief Executive Dan Rabun said.
Rivals Noble Corp and Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc both forecast steadily rising demand for deepwater rigs along with their results two weeks before.
Ensco shares are up 6 percent in the past three months, in line with Diamond but better than Noble's 2 percent rise. Shares of sector leader Transocean Ltd, which reports results early next week, have declined by 2 percent in the last quarter.