Oct 16 Noble Corp, an offshore drilling
contractor now breaking itself up in an effort to boost its
value, reported a larger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit
on Wednesday as its rigs were busier and the rates paid for them
Shares of Noble, ranked fourth among offshore drillers by
market capitalization, rose 2.4 percent in after-hours trading.
The average rate paid for a Noble rig in the third quarter
rose 15 percent from last year, while the average utilization
across its fleet improved to 85 percent from 78 percent.
Chief Executive David Williams singled out reduced time in
shipyards, steady costs and the startup of two new drill ships
as "primary catalysts" for the strong third quarter.
"Our operational execution has improved throughout 2013 and
has benefited from the implementation of processes and systems
which have contributed to our improved fleet uptime," he said.
Net profit rose to $282 million, or $1.10 per share, from
$115 million, or 45 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue
grew 22 percent to $1.08 billion. Excluding certain items, Noble
made 85 cents per share, whereas analysts, on average, had
expected 70 cents, Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S said.
The 25 cents per share in one-time items included proceeds
from the sale of a rig, an acquisition-related settlement and an
impairment on two old rigs.
In order to secure a better valuation for its best assets,
Noble said last month it would hive off 44 lower-specification
rigs into a new company. The remainder will consist of 26
more-capable units and nine more now being built.
Larger rival Transocean Ltd underlined the global
demand for high-spec rigs by announcing late on Tuesday the
construction of a new $725 million ultra-deepwater rig along
with a five-year contract for it with Chevron Corp.
The next year will bring upheaval for Noble. Last week,
Noble shareholders approved a plan to move the company's place
of incorporation to London from Switzerland.