Bloomberg News

Noble Corp. Says ‘Plate Full,’ Not Adding New Rigs This Year

October 20, 2011

(Updates with closing share price in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Noble Corp., the world’s third- largest offshore driller based on revenue, said it’s unlikely to order any more rigs this year as it works to roll out 14 new vessels by 2015.

Three drillships are expected to be completed this year, followed by five floating vessels and six shallow-water rigs in the next four years, the Geneva-based driller has said.

“We’ve got our plate full, and I think we’ll play these and work on execution,” Chief Executive Officer David Williams told analysts and investors today on a third-quarter earnings conference call. “We’ll take a look probably sometime next year on what we think the market looks like for future opportunities.”

Noble rose 5.3 percent to $33.45 at the close in New York. The shares, which have 31 buy ratings from analysts, 10 holds and 1 sell, have dropped 6.5 percent this year.

The company said it plans to boost its capital spending to $2.7 billion this year, up by about $200 million from a forecast earlier this year, partly because of its new-build program, Dennis Lubojacky, controller at Noble, said on the call.

The drilling contractor is also considering whether to sell some of its jack-up rigs and hopes to decide by the end of the year, Williams has said.

The company reported yesterday earnings rose 57 percent to $135 million, or 53 cents a share, from $86 million, or 34 cents, a year earlier. Excluding a 4-cent tax benefit, the company missed by 3 cents the average of 36 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore driller, will report earnings on Nov. 2. Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc., the second-largest offshore driller, reported today earnings of $256.9 million, or $1.85 per share, which beat by 38 cents the average of 33 analysts’ estimates.

--Editors: Jasmina Kelemen, Charles Siler

To contact the reporter on this story: David Wethe in Houston at dwethe@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net


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