Seadrill profit beats estimates as debt restructuring looms

By Mikael Holter on 8/25/2016

HAMILTON, Bermuda (Bloomberg) -- Seadrill, the offshore drilling company controlled by billionaire John Fredriksen, beat earnings estimates after slashing costs while continuing talks with creditors.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell to $557 million in the second quarter from $651 million a year earlier, the Hamilton, Bermuda-based company said Thursday. That exceeded the average $510 million estimated by analysts and forecast by the company itself.

“We have improved on the record uptime we achieved in the first quarter, reaching 98% economic utilization, whilst continuing to see our costs reduce quarter-over-quarter,” CEO Per Wullf said in a statement. While conditions remain “challenging,” volumes are returning to the spot market, he said.

Seadrill rose as much as 2.6% to 22.24 kroner in Oslo trading, and was at 21.72 kroner as of 9:33 a.m. local time. That pares its decline this year to 29%.

Offshore-rig companies have been among the hardest hit by a collapse in crude prices over the past two years as oil producers reduce spending on equipment and services. Rig owners including Seadrill and rival Transocean Ltd. have lowered expenses, delayed vessel deliveries and suspended dividends as dwindling income puts pressure on their ability to repay debt.

Seadrill said Ebitda will drop to $380 million in the third quarter and total $1.8 billion this year, implying a further decline to $335 million in the fourth quarter. Analysts expect Ebitda of $393 million and $349 million this quarter and next, respectively, according to Bloomberg surveys.

Seadrill had $9.1 billion in net interest-bearing debt at the end of the second quarter, and is talking to banks, bondholders and shareholders to reach a restructuring agreement by the end of the year. The company has identified a further $50 million in cost cuts, bringing expected cash savings in 2016 to $390 million, it said.

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