Noble Corporation (NE)

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Noble Corporation (NE)

Q4 2009 Earnings Call

January 28, 2010 9:00 am ET


David Williams - Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer

Tom Mitchell - Chief Financial Officer

Roger Hunt - Senior Vice President of Marketing and Contracts

Lee Ahlstrom - Vice President of Investor Relations & Planning


Ian McPherson - Simmons & Co.

Alan Laws - BMO Capital Markets

Jim Crandall - Barkley’s

[Jeff Keybert - Weeden]

Jud Bailey - Jeffries & Co.

Robin Shoemaker - Citi

Collin Gerry - Raymond James

Unidentified Participant

Angie Sedita - USB

Joe Hill - Tudor Pickering



Good morning, my name is Regina and I will be your conference operator today. At this time, I would like to welcome everyone to the Noble Drilling fourth quarter earnings call. All lines have been placed on mute to prevent any background noise. After the speakers prepared remarks, there will be a question-and-answer period. (Operator Instructions)

Thank you. I would now like to introduce Mr. Lee Ahlstrom, Vice President of Investor Relations and Planning. Mr. Ahlstrom, you may begin your conference.

Lee Ahlstrom

Thank you, Regina and welcome everyone to Noble Corps. fourth quarter and full year 2009 earnings call. Before we begin, I’d like to remind everyone that any statements we make today about our plans, expectations, estimates, predictions or similar expressions for the future, including those concerning financial performance, operating results, spending guidance and the drilling business are forward-looking statements and are subject to risks and uncertainties.

Our filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which are posted on our website, discuss the risks and uncertainties in our business and industry and the various factors that could keep outcomes of any forward-looking statements from being realized. Our actual results could differ materially from our expectations.

We have included detailed balance sheets and income and cash flow statements with our earnings news release. Also note that we may use non-GAAP financial measures in the call today. If we do, you’ll find the required supplemental disclosure for these measures, including the most directly comparable GAAP measure on our website and an associated reconciliation also on the website.

Now, I’ll turn the call over to David Williams, our Chairman, President and Chief Executive.

David Williams

Thank you, Lee. Good afternoon everyone and thanks for joining us. We’re coming to you live from Geneva today. As you know from our news release yesterday, our fourth quarter full year 2009 results were the best in the company’s history. That’s no small achievement given that we’ll begin our 90 year business this April. No matter what metrics you look at earnings, margins, balance sheet strength, employee turnover, safety, 2009 was an outstanding year for us.

In spite of the turmoil, we’ve experienced both in the financial and the drilling markets. My hats off to the men and women around the world who deliver these outstanding results for our shareholders and those of you in the financial community stuck with us, thank you very much, we appreciate it.

Our call today will follow the usual format. I’ll provide some brief remarks and then turn the call over to Tom Mitchell, our CFO to review the financials and provide you some guidance 2010. Finally, Roger Hunt, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Contracts will update you on the market conditions and then we’ll answer a few questions.

2009 was remarkable in many respects. As we began the year, both commodity and share prices were in a freefall and the attitude to some investor conference early in the year was pessimistic at best. If they raise, we want to go cash cost and our customers were going to cancel every contract we had in place and our backlog was going to go to completely the zero.

Fortunately, the panic was short lived by the summer, utilization began to flatten out in many regions around the world appeared to stabilize. Team in Noble has been through cycles before and even though this was a little more abrupt at most. I think our group did an admirable job are staying focused and executing through the change. The financial results if you saw the press release yesterday, but you should hear about a couple of other metrics by which we and our customers measure our performance safety and employee turnover.

We finished 2009 with a total recordable rate of 0.43 down from our previous best efforts in 2008, when we delivered a total recordable rate of 0.64. That’s a remarkable 33% year-on-year improvement. Likewise our last time interest rate drop 58% from 2008 0.12 to this years to 2009, 0.05, all this means better operations and value for our customers.

Lower claimed cost and improved financial results for our shareholders and more importantly it’s a continuation of Nobles commitment to keep employee save and making sure that everyone will steps on Noble rig, returns home to safe and sound. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but I think our men and women around the world are up to the task.

Employee turnover for 2009 helping to keep our recruiting, training, and development costs down. Worldwide rig based employee turnover 2009 was 6.9%, down 15% from the 8.1% in 2008. Among our key personnel, the top 380 or so people in the fleet offshore turnover in 2009 was about 4.5% compared to 4.6% in 2008, all-in-all, a positive trend that we hope to continue this year.

Turning towards the future, let me begin with an update on the newbuilds. First, our newbuild DB for a semisubmersible Noble Danny Adkins arrived in the Gulf of Mexico a couple of weeks ago. The crossing from Singapore was largely uneventful and the rig is undergoing some final preparations before mobilization offshore to complete final acceptance testing and before heading to its first drilling location. We expect to be back at full day rate around mid-March, a bit later than we’d originally anticipated, but both we and Shell remained committed to delivering a quality product that’s ready to drill when we reach our first location.

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