Cobalt Tumbles on Bigger-Than-Expected Loss: Houston Mover

Cobalt International Energy Inc., the deep-water oil explorer whose largest investors include Goldman Sachs Group Inc., fell the most in two months after posting a fourth-quarter loss almost twice the average estimate.

The shares declined 6.1 percent to $31.97 at the close in New York. Before today, the stock had more than doubled in the past year as Cobalt announced discoveries off the coast of Africa and in the Gulf of Mexico, including a field the company said may hold 1 billion barrels of crude.

Cobalt’s loss widened to $51.1 million, or 13 cents a share, from $29.8 million, or 9 cents, a year earlier, the Houston-based company said today in a Business Wire statement. The average of 10 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg was for a per-share loss of 7.4 cents.

Cobalt’s costs for exploration failures jumped more than fivefold to $8.87 million from a year earlier, according to today’s statement. The company also said in a U.S. regulatory filing today that the Securities and Exchange Commission has started an investigation into whether one of its partners in an Angolan project, Nazaki Oil and Gaz SA, has connections to senior government officials.

In a separate announcement today, the company said it plans to sell 15.7 million new shares and some of its shareholders will sell an additional 31.3 million. The underwriters of the offering have been granted the option to sell an additional 7.05 million shares, the company said.

The proceeds from the sale will be used to fund drilling and general corporate expenses, according to the statement. Cobalt was founded in 2005 and first sold shares to the public in December 2009.

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