Oh, how I've awaited this day. No, not the release of the new Harry Potter book -- I've managed to sidestep that mania entirely. I'm talking about the quarterly results of Noble (NYSE:NE). We've already gotten a little hint of what to expect with GlobalSantaFe's (NYSE:GSF) releases of its monthly SCORE reports, a handy measure for tracking the drillers' profitability. The month of June tacked on an additional 2.4% to the measure, which was already tracking significantly above the benchmark level set in the 1980-1981 cycle peak.

How is this possible? A bit of magical training at Hogwarts, perhaps? Hogwash.

The global appetite for crude keeps rising faster than supply, which pushes the integrated oils and major independent explorers to search high and low -- mostly low -- for new reservoirs. The deepwater is looking like the greatest untapped frontier these days, and demand for capable rigs has driven dayrates higher. There's no magic to it.

Up or down?
We'll have to wait until Thursday's earnings release to find out Noble's numbers. However, we do have a crystal ball that prophesies the company's longer-term prospects. It's our Motley Fool CAPS community, in which more than 556 members have predicted the firm's future. Just what do they foresee?

The offshore drillers are sort of popular with the Fool community:

Major Offshore Drillers Group

CAPS Rating (out of 5)

Transocean (NYSE:RIG)




Diamond Offshore Drilling (NYSE:DO)




Ensco International (NYSE:ESV)


Pride International (NYSE:PDE)


Wall Street vs. Main Street
That star-studded line-up doesn't leave any room for Wall Street to be more bullish on Noble, or any other firm in the group, for that matter. Analysts are generally optimistic about the company, with Jim Cramer sporting the lone red thumb. I won't hold him to that call, though -- he made it all the way back in November, which is ancient history to some. Noble has outperformed the market by more than 28% since then, by the way.

Bull pitch
One recent pitch by Pilgreen12 says, "Deep water offshore drillers are priced as if oil is going back below $40." If you agree that's the case, then a drop to $50 or $60 oil shouldn't be the end of the world for this dashing driller.

Another player, deadcat2, points out that "net margin for NE has never dropped below 13.7" over the past decade. That's not quite true -- profitability was a bit lower, 12%, in 1999 -- but the general point holds that Noble has a strong record of operating profitably over the full cycle.

Bear pitch
I can't really find one. One All-Star bear, wcwhiner, has an underperform on energy stocks in general, hence the red thumb here. But he's got nothing to say in his pitch about Noble specifically.

Drill down into CAPS
Want to add your voice to the crowd? Simply register for CAPS and start thumbs-upping and thumbs-downing to your heart's content.

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Fool contributor Toby Shute prefers haruspicy above all other forms of prognostication. He doesn't own shares in any company mentioned. The Motley Fool has a deep disclosure policy.