July 17 Offshore drilling contractor Noble Corp
reported on Wednesday a higher-than-expected
second-quarter profit as the rates paid for its rigs improved
and the amount of downtime decreased.
Shares of Noble rose 2.7 percent in after-hours trading to
$41.08 - their highest level since late May.
Market improvements led to a 7 percent rise in the average
daily rig rates from last year, and Chief Executive David
Williams said the reduction in unpaid downtime also led to lower
repair and maintenance costs and increased bonus revenue.
The decline in utilization of its deepwater fleet to 77
percent from 83 percent three months before was largely due to
the idle rig Homer Ferrington, which is being considered for
drilling assignments in a few regions, Noble said.
Second-quarter net profit rose to $177 million, or 69 cents
per share, from $160 million, or 63 cents per share, a year
earlier. Revenue grew 13 percent to $1.02 billion. Excluding a
one-time item, it made 63 cents per share, whereas analysts, on
average, expected 56 cents, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S said.
Williams said the company was still going through the
"complicated steps" required to potentially spin off the
lower-value portion of its fleet - which is similar to a move
undertaken by market leader Transocean Ltd.
Transocean, which sold off 38 shallow-water rigs last year,
said earlier on Wednesday it had designated three more rigs for
sale, bringing its active fleet down to 81 rigs, still larger
than Ensco Plc and Noble.