Noble Corporation plc (NYSE: NE) is a British company that is a major contract driller of oil and natural gas wells. It the corporate successor Noble Drilling Corporation, by which it was known through the 1990s. The company is part of the S&P 500 stock market index.
In 1985, its parent company, Noble Affiliates, Inc. (now known as Noble Energy, NYSE: NBL), spun off its subsidiary Noble Drilling Corporation to shareholders and began publicly trading on the NASDAQ, later being renamed Noble Corporation.
Founded in 1932, by the 1970s, the parent holding company Noble Affiliates Inc., owned three subsidiary business lines, its 1932 original oil and gas explorer Samedan Oil Corporation, the drilling company Noble Drilling Corporation, and a trucking company B. F. Walker.
In 1972, Noble Affiliates first became publicly traded.
Throughout the long bear market of the 1970s, Noble Affiliates did extremely well, as its stock price multiplied by over 29 times from its low, and split two-for-one in 1981. It had begun paying a cash dividend to shareholders in 1975, which it has continued for every year since. It earned nearly US$82 million in 1981, although it carried a long-term debt of nearly US$100 million by then. But as the early 1980s progressed, the stock settled back down to half of its earlier record peak price, as earnings steadily declined each year, until by 1985 the company was operating at a loss.
In cost-saving measures, in 1984, Noble Affiliates sold the B. F. Walker trucking company, and in 1985 it spun off Noble Drilling Corporation to shareholders.
Through the 1990-1991 recession and in 1992, Noble Drilling operated at a loss of about US$40 million each year, finally becoming profitable with peak earnings of US$25 million plus extraordinary income in 1993, leading to the runup in its stock. But in the 1994 soft landing the stock price plunged to less than half of its prior peak price, as earnings began to slide by two-thirds of what they had been the prior year, and the stock languished through 1995. Noble Drilling had accumulated nearly US$130 million in long-term debt by that year. By 1995 the company had become a member of the S&P SmallCap 600 index.
By early 1996, Noble Drilling Corporation moved from the NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange, and began trading under the new symbol NE. Investor enthusiasm over the move drove its stock price above its 1993 high, rising almost 50% in the month of March 1996. The runup in the stock was not matched by company fundamentals however, as the company had a marginal loss in 1995, its long-term debt had increased by a few million dollars, and the company diluted shareholder equity when it issued almost 20% more common shares outstanding that year.
By the early 2000s, Noble Drilling changed its name to Noble Corporation as a result of its change in domicile from the United States to the Cayman Islands.
In March 2009, Noble Corporation redomesticated to Switzerland. At that time it was removed from the S&P500 Index.
In June 2010, Noble Corporation entered into a definitive agreement to buy Frontier Drilling for US$2.16 billion.
Noble completed the purchase of Frontier in late July 2010. As a result, Noble's fleet grew by seven units to a total of 69 offshore drilling units (including five drilling rigs currently under construction), which are located worldwide, including in the Middle East, India, the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, Mexico, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, Brazil, West Africa and Asian Pacific. Noble also owns and operates the dynamically positioned floating production, storage, offloading vessel, FPSO Seillean.
- "S&P 500 Reshuffling To Include Noble Corp.". Forbes. January 12, 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2012.
- Noble Energy, History, Noble Energy.com
- Standard & Poor's Stock Guide, various issues
- Clanton, Brett. "Noble Corp. plans to reincorporate in Switzerland." Houston Chronicle. December 19, 2008. Retrieved on June 21, 2010.
- "Noble buys Frontier Drilling in $2.16bn deal". Upstream Online (NHST Media Group). 2010-06-28. Retrieved 2010-06-28.