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Parker Drilling to settle gov't investigation

HOUSTON (AP) -- Parker Drilling warned that it would post a loss for the fourth quarter related to the settlement with federal investigators looking into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The act is used to prosecute companies overseas for illegal activity, usually related to bribery.

In connection with the agreement with the Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission, the Houston drilling contractor will take a four-quarter charge of $15.9 million, or 13 cents per share. The deal remains subject to court and other final approvals.

Excluding that charge, Parker said it expects to post a fourth-quarter loss of 3 to 5 cents per share. Analysts polled by FactSet expect a profit of 5 cents per share.

Parker said that a drilling slowdown in the U.S. land and Gulf of Mexico inland waters markets has resulted in increased competition among companies that rent drilling tools and lower demand for barge drilling rigs. In addition, international operations have been hurt by a continued drop in rig utilization rates.

The recent quarter's results also include costs related to dry-docking some barge drilling rigs, repositioning and redeploying some international drilling rigs and responding to the competitive demands in the rentals tools market, Parker said.

Shares of Parker Drilling Co fell 11 cents to $6 in morning trading.