Diamond Offshore Drilling's Q2 earnings increase 19% to US$266.6M on increased orders

HOUSTON , July 22, 2011 () – Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. said Thursday that second-quarter profit increased 19 percent as orders picked up for some of its offshore drilling rigs.

The Houston company reported earnings of $266.6 million, or $1.92 per share, for the three months ended June 30. That compares with $224.4 million, or $1.61 per share, for the same part of 2010. Revenue increased 8.1 percent to $889.5 million.

Analysts had expected earnings of $1.91 per share on revenue of $869.4 million, according to FactSet.

Diamond Offshore, which relies on the offshore business in the Gulf of Mexico, struggled during last year's drilling ban that followed BP's massive oil spill. The company said that contract rates for its drilling rigs dropped from last year's second quarter, but utilization of its top-priced high specification floaters increased to 94 percent from 69 percent.

The company also announced 10 new contracts that could generate up to $1 billion over 14 years.

In a separate announcement, Diamond Offshore said it will pay quarterly dividends worth 87.5 cents per share in September. The dividends include a regular quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents per share and a special quarterly dividend of 75 cents per share. Both will be paid Sept. 1 to shareholders of record on Aug. 1.

Shares increased 27 cents to $73 in premarket trading.

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