Noble Reports a 55% Increase in 3Q Earnings

Noble reported third quarter 2007 earnings of $318.3 million, or $1.18 per diluted share, versus $207.2 million, or $0.76 a share, for the third quarter of last year. Per-share earnings were up 55% from the third quarter of 2006 and up 9% from the $1.08 per share reported for the second quarter of 2007. Per-share amounts have been adjusted for the two-for-one stock split of the company's ordinary shares affected in August.

The results for the 2007 third quarter include after-tax charges of $0.04 per share related to the closure of the company's technology business unit, costs associated with the ongoing independent investigation of its Nigerian operations and expenses related to the resignation of the company's former chief executive officer.

Contract drilling services revenues for the 2007 third quarter were $718.8 million, up 43% from the year-earlier quarter. Cash operating margins exceeded 68%, generating $363.3 million in net cash provided by operating activities. The company invested $363.3 million in capital projects during the quarter, bringing the year-to-date total to $942.4 million. Debt as a percentage of total capitalization declined to 16.4% at September 30, 2007, from approximately 18% at the end of the second quarter.

"Improved margins across the Noble fleet, driven by higher dayrates on several recently contracted rigs, provided momentum for a strong third quarter," said Chairman, President and CEO William A. Sears.

Earnings for the first nine months of 2007 totaled $3.19 per diluted share compared with $1.93 per diluted share in the same period last year. Contract drilling services revenues were $1.95 billion and earnings were $858.6 million in the first nine months of 2007, up 42% and 61%, respectively, from the year-earlier period.