Diamond Offshore profit tumbles, but beats view

HOUSTON -- Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. said Thursday its third-quarter profit tumbled 30 percent from a year ago, as rig revenue and drilling activity declined. But the company's results nevertheless handily topped Wall Street's expectations.

The Houston-based contract driller said its net income for the three months ended Sept. 30 fell to $178.2 million, or $1.28 per share, from with $256.9 million, or $1.85 per share, a year earlier.

Revenue fell 17 percent to $729.1 million.

Analysts, on average, expected Diamond to earn $1.02 per share on revenue of $733.5 million, according to FactSet.

Revenue was partially impacted by the effect of Hurricane Isaac on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. Diamond and other drillers suspended operations for several days surrounding the storm.

Diamond countered some of its revenue with lower costs. Operating expenses fell 8 percent.

Also Thursday, Diamond declared a special 75-cent dividend and a regular quarterly cash dividend of 12.5 cents.

Both dividends are payable on December 3, 2012 to shareholders of record on Nov. 1.

Diamond Offshore Drilling shares closed Wednesday at $69.77, up 26 percent since the start of the year. The stock added 67 cents in thin premarket trading.