Noble Drilling Reports 2001 Results

Noble Drilling Corporation's reported net income increased 22 percent for the fourth quarter of 2001 to $63.5 million, or $0.48 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $260.5 million, compared to net income of $51.9 million, or $0.38 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $241.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2000. Net income for the year ended December 31, 2001 increased 59 percent to $262.9 million, or $1.96 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $1,002.3 million, compared to net income of $165.6 million, or $1.22 per diluted share, on operating revenues of $882.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2000. Results for the year ended December 31, 2001 include an extraordinary charge of $988,000, net of taxes of $532,000, related to the purchase and retirement of $43,305,000 principal amount of the Company's 7.50% Senior Notes due 2019 for $44,362,000.

At December 31, 2001, the Company's consolidated balance sheet reflected $1.78 billion in shareholders' equity, $236.7 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $605.6 million in total debt. The Company repurchased 200,000 shares of its common stock at a total cost of $5,409,000 during the fourth quarter of 2001. For the year ended December 31, 2001, the Company repurchased 2,282,000 shares at a total cost of $76,197,000.

James C. Day, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, said, "2001 was a record year for the Company, in terms of net income, return on capital and revenues. These excellent results in a difficult market are attributable to a very focused management team."

Offshore contract drilling services revenues from deepwater drilling units (capable of drilling in 4,000 feet and greater) accounted for approximately 37 percent and 46 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2001 and 2000, respectively. The Company currently operates five deepwater semisubmersibles in the Gulf of Mexico and one deepwater semisubmersible and three deepwater drillships offshore Brazil. Offshore contract drilling services revenues from international sources accounted for approximately 62 percent and 48 percent of the Company's total offshore contract drilling services revenues for the fourth quarter of 2001 and 2000, respectively. Dayrates in certain international locations, especially the North Sea, the Middle East and West Africa, were significantly higher in the fourth quarter of 2001 than the same quarter of the prior year. The average dayrate for the Company's international rigs was $62,088 in the fourth quarter of 2001, up 38 percent from the same quarter of the prior year. Due to the weakness in the Gulf of Mexico jackup market during the recent quarter, utilization rates on the Company's domestic jackup rigs were adversely impacted. The average utilization rate on these rigs was 65 percent in the fourth quarter of 2001, compared to full utilization in the fourth quarter of 2000. However, the average dayrate on the Company's domestic jackup rigs of $44,990 during the fourth quarter of 2001 represented a one percent increase from the same quarter of the prior year.

Day said, "Due to a weak U.S. economy and lower year-on-year natural gas and oil prices, 2002 will obviously be challenging. We do anticipate the market to begin to improve over the next 12 months. Barring a protracted economic downturn, the international markets should continue to remain reasonably firm."

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