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Rowan 4Q profit rises 20 percent on higher revenue

HOUSTON (AP) -- Rowan Companies PLC reported Thursday that fourth-quarter earnings rose 20 percent as revenue grew with a larger fleet of offshore drilling rigs.

The company said it made major progress on its strategy of focusing on offshore drilling with seven new shallow-water rigs delivered in 2012 and another this month. The company is planning to get four new drilling rigs over the next two years that will help it enter the market for deep-water drilling services.

Fourth-quarter net income was $54.1 million, or 44 cents per share, compared with $45.1 million, or 36 cents per share, a year earlier.

The company said that excluding write-downs related to discontinued operations it would have earned 57 cents per share.

Analysts expected adjusted earnings of 48 cents per share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose 29 percent to $354.2 million, from $275.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Analysts expected $355.5 million.

Average day rates for Rowan's fleet slipped to $153,500 from $161,500 a year earlier due to lower rates in the North Sea, partly offset by higher Gulf of Mexico rates.

Repair and maintenance costs, the second-highest expense after labor, ticked up to $38 million from $34.5 million. Labor costs were nearly flat.

The shares rose 32 cents to $34.56 in morning trading.