* Third-quarter EPS 45 cents vs Wall St view of 49 cents
* Revenue rises 20 pct; average rig utilization rises
* Nobel expects downtime problems to be resolved in Q4
By Braden Reddall
Oct 17 Noble Corp, owner of the world's
third-largest offshore drilling fleet, on Wednesday reported a
quarterly profit that missed Wall Street views, hit by extended
downtime that it said is not expected to recur in the current
Deployment of two new drillships, one off Brazil and the
other in the Gulf of Mexico, was slower than expected, Noble
said. Two other rigs in Brazil were hit by delays, and U.S.
operations had to cope with the effects of Hurricane Isaac.
"With few exceptions, these matters have now been resolved,
and we expect improved operational performance in the final
quarter of 2012," Chief Executive David Williams said in a
Overall, average rig utilization in the third quarter
increased to 78 percent from 76 percent a year earlier.
Net profit fell to $115 million, or 45 cents per share, from
$135 million, or 53 cents per share, a year ago. Analysts, on
average, expected 49 cents per share, according to Thomson
Reuters I/B/E/S. Revenue grew 20 percent to $884 million.
Supporting executives' common refrain about rising rates for
their best rigs, industry leader Transocean Ltd revealed
on Wednesday that its Sedco Express would move to Nigeria early
next year to earn a rate $100,000 a day higher than the $500,000
it earned daily off Israel with Noble Energy Inc.
Also late on Wednesday, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc
said its Ocean Endeavor rig, which has been making $285,000 per
day in Egypt, has an 18-month contract starting in December 2013
at $521,665 per day, including half the potential bonus.
Ensco Plc, owner of the second-largest offshore
fleet, said in its fleet status report on Wednesday that it sold
two older rigs. The Pride Hawaii sold for $19 million, compared
with its $17 million book value, while the Ensco I barge rig
fetched $4.5 million, versus a $12.3 million book value.
Efforts to sell off less-capable assets are also under way
at both Transocean and Noble Corp.
Prior to the Noble Corp results, its shares closed 0.3
percent lower. The stock is up 9 percent in the past three
months, similar to Diamond, which reports results on Thursday.
Transocean's shares are up just 2 percent in the period, while
Ensco has gained 18 percent.