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Noble Corp’s profit beats as contract drilling margins rise

Noble Corp Plc reported a better-than-expected quarterly profit as higher margins from contract drilling services helped offset losses from retirement of rigs due to a slump in oil prices.

The company said on Wednesday that margins in its contract drilling business rose to 59 percent in the first quarter from 50 percent in the prior quarter.

Shares of Noble, which gets about 97 percent of its operating revenue from contract drilling services, rose about 1.5 percent in extended trading.

Noble’s average daily revenue rose 2.8 percent from the prior quarter to $340,000, while fleet utilization rose to 86 percent from 82 percent.

The company, however, said it expected its capital spending to fall to about $585 million in 2015 from $1.9 billion in 2014.

Net income attributable to Noble fell to $178.4 million, or 72 cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31 from $256.3 million, or 99 cents per share, a year earlier.

Operating revenue rose about 1 percent to $804.3 million.

Analysts on average had expected earnings of 51 cents per share and revenue of $777.4 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Noble’s shares were trading at $16.50 after the bell. Up to Wednesday’s close, the stock had fallen about 40 percent in the past 12 months.

In related news, Editorial: Regulators handle Noble pollution well.

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.