Noble Corp reported 11 percent quarterly profit growth as its deepwater rig fleet remained in demand despite a broader slowdown in drilling, which the company expected to turn around next year.
We believe that the current commodity price environment in the midst of the 2010 budget cycle bodes well for activity levels next year, Chief Executive David Williams said in a statement to accompany the results on Wednesday
Noble, the third-largest offshore oil and gas rig contractor by market value, said net profit in the third quarter rose to $426 million, or $1.63 per share, from $383 million, or $1.42 per share.
Revenue at the Switzerland-based company grew by 5 percent to $905.6 million in the quarter.
The profit included a net tax benefit of 5 cents per share related to various assessments, Noble said. Analysts had been looking for a profit of $1.53 per share on revenue of $905.7 million, according to the averages on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Noble shares, which closed at $42.62 prior to the results, have jumped 93 percent in 2009, compared with a 71 percent rise for the Philadelphia Stock Exchange oil service index .OSX.
Sector leader Transocean Ltd reports earnings early next month, while nearest rival Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc and smaller player Ensco International Inc both report their quarterly numbers on Thursday.
(Reporting by Braden Reddall, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)