Transocean reports $6.12 billion 4Q loss on charge

Transocean Ltd., the world’s largest offshore-rig operator, reported a fourth-quarter loss after the company’s contract drilling business lost market value, resulting in a writedown.

Transocean posted a loss of $6.12 billion, or $18.62 a share, from a loss of $799 million, or $2.51, a year earlier, the Vernier, Switzerland-based company said in a statement today. The company was expected to earn 19 cents a share, the average of 19 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The writedown, the reserve for BP Plc’s Macondo oil spill and other one-time items reduced results by $18.80. Excluding these items, the company reported a profit of 18 cents, three cents less than the average of 32 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Revenue rose 14 percent to $2.42 billion in the quarter.

Contract drilling is Transocean’s largest business unit and accounted for 92 percent of revenue in the fourth quarter. An annual test of the unit’s value prompted the company to take the writedown. The company warned investors in a Feb. 20 statement that did not specify the value of the charge.

Fourth-quarter results in 2010 included a writedown associated with the declining value of its shallow-water fleet.

Transocean owned the $365 million Deepwater Horizon rig that was destroyed in the BP oil spill in the Gulf. The company employed nine of the 11 workers who died in the April 2010 disaster.

The earnings results were released before the start of regular trading on U.S. markets. Transocean rose 2.5 percent to $52.00 at 7:23 in New York.