In a healthy capitalist economy, companies are penalized for their mishaps and capitalism adjusts their tune. However, in the recent BP (NYSE: BP) oil spill, rig manufacturer Transocean (NYSE: RIG) banked a $270 million profit from the disaster.
With profits like that from extracting value from society, who needs to add value?
Transocean walked away from the mess with over a quarter billion dollars because they insured Deepwater Horizon for well above book value. How did we come across such scathing confidential information? The company executives proudly assuaged investors’ fears by announcing the good news during Transocean’s recent quarterly earnings conference call. Here’s the fun bit:
In the current quarter we expect to receive approximately $560 million in insurance proceeds and the code and accounting gain of approximately $270 million for the total loss of the rig. Of the $560 million in expected insurance proceeds we have already received $481 million including amounts received today.
As Adam Smith envisioned capitalism, the companies involved in the largest manmade disaster in U.S. history would be replaced by more efficient competitors. However, in the modern era we can count on risk to be absorbed by counter parties who ensure value destruction will remain profitable.
Outrageous, but legal.