Oil Workers Stay Put in a Downturn

The recent oil boom spurred the largest expansion in offshore drilling since the 1970s. Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO) particularly cashed in on the huge demand for its 45 deepwater oil rigs that it contracts to oil companies such as ExxonMobil (XOM), Chevron (CVX) and Conoco-Phillips (COP). During the past three years, Diamond's average annual growth rate was 41%, and in 2008 it increased profits by 55%,to $1.3 billion. But when the economy took a nosedive and oil prices plummeted last year, drilling activity saw a precipitous drop, too. While Diamond is still growing, the pace has slowed: On Apr. 23 the Houston company announced a 13% revenue increase in the first quarter of 2009. In 2008, revenue had grown by nearly 30% compared to the same period the year before.

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