Funny what a difference a month can make. Strong demand and high dayrates for drilling rigs had propelled Noble Corp.'s
Despite the fact that Noble is one of the relatively few companies that has a very legitimate claim to the hurricane excuse, third-quarter results were still pretty respectable. Revenue rose about 38% over last year and net income was up 150%. Noble felt the impact of Katrina -- sequential growth was only on the order of single digits.
Speaking of Katrina, the company hopes to have most of the repairs finished by November. The hurricanes will also lead Noble to accelerate its prior plans for improving the mooring on its rigs. I suppose it's a nasty coincidence that the company talked about this last quarter -- moving from preparing for "10-year hurricanes" to "25-year hurricanes" -- and then proceeded to take a nasty hit from a major storm. Last but not least, Noble expects to see new insurance rates toward the end of the year. While management doesn't yet know how those rates will shape up, higher is a pretty safe bet.
Leaving aside the hurricanes, the global market for drilling rigs is still exceptionally positive for the offshore companies. Gulf dayrates were up 50% for jackups and 19% for deepwater rigs. And overseas rates climbed more than 20%, as well. Rig utilization seems to be very high and oil companies are increasingly looking to secure access for 2008 and beyond -- and paying up to do so.
I won't bother scolding the market for how it values an industry from one day to the next. Suffice it to say, I don't think the story on the offshore drilling market is over just yet. Big boys like ExxonMobil
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned (that means he's neither long nor short the shares).