NEW YORK, January 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
Contract activities for offshore drilling companies continue to rise given the high level of demand for offshore drilling services. In light of this, Noble Corporation (NYSE: NE) [Full Research Report](1) recently updated its drilling rig status report stating three new contracts in the North Sea, West Africa, and Arabian Gulf areas. Operations for the new contracts will begin in the second quarter of 2013.
The new contracts are promising signs for investors, though it may take a while before the company can deliver again after experiencing operational downtime last year. The effect of the prolonged downtime from their rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and offshore Brazil is noticeable from the company's third quarter earnings, with the company earning only $112 million or $0.45 per share, missing the analysts' consensus estimate of $0.52 by $0.07. Earnings were down 15.1% from 2011.
As traditional oil fields produce less and less yield each year, the demand levels for offshore drilling service rise. This leads to higher day rates and more profitable operations. Drilling activity in the US Gulf of Mexico has also resumed, after it took a halt following the 2010 oil spill.
Nevertheless, this high demand for offshore drilling service cannot be fully taken advantage of if Noble Corporation continues to suffer downtime. Late last year, the U.S. Coast Guard raised several issues regarding Noble's drillship Noble Discoverer. Complaints were mostly concerned with the drillship's propulsion and safety management systems. Noble also experienced downtime in its other drill rigs, with a total of 68 days of downtime in the month of December alone.
Investors must be patient with Noble Corporation for now, since the results of the company's new contract developments cannot be reflected until the third quarter of this year. Indeed, the company is seeing troubled times, but there are substantial signs that conditions will improve later this year. The Noble George McLeod, a jack-up rig that is currently undergoing modification in the Arabian Gulf recently secured a new contract with Talisman to perform work in Malaysia starting May 2013. The rig is expected to have a day rate of $115,000 under this contract. This will be the biggest revenue boost for Noble Corporation.
To maximize earnings and to capitalize on the opportunities being presented now, Noble Corporation must focus on reducing rig downtime. The company recently issued a statement that it is developing an enhanced plan designed to ensure that its drilling rigs and their related management procedures comply with applicable maritime laws and leading industry practices. If this plan pulls through, then the company may find a way to make up for its lackluster performance last year.
Noble Corporation is scheduled to release its fourth quarter and full year 2012 results on Thursday, January 24, 2013. The company's next fleet status report will be issued on February 7, 2013.
(1) The Full Research Report on Noble Corporation - including full detailed breakdown, analyst ratings and price targets - is available to download free of charge at: [http://www.nationaltradersassociation.org/r/entire_report/60cc_NE]
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SOURCE National Traders Association