Nabors Industries ( NBR), the oil-drilling contractor, reported a huge quarterly loss Tuesday to account for write-downs on the value of some of its oil and gas properties.

Nevertheless, in one of its typically impenetrable earnings releases, Nabors (which is based in the tax haven of Bermuda) said that without those non-cash mark-downs it would have reported a profit of $91 million, or 32 cents a share. That's above analysts' per-share estimates of a 26-cent profit.

Including the mark-downs, Nabors lost $193 million, or 68 cents a share.

Comparisons with 2008, however, are unfavorable no matter which bottom line one chooses to look at. In the year-ago period, Nabors earned $176.4 million, or 60 cents a share.

Its revenue, meanwhile, fell 32% to $878 million from $1.3 billion a year earlier.

For the performance, Nabors spread the blame evenly. "Virtually all of our units experienced both sequential and year-over-year declines in quarterly operating income," said Nabors boss Gene Isenberg in a statement.

On a positive note, he added that business in most of its regions and divisions has "stabilized," except for land-drilling operations in the continental U.S.

Shares of Nabors were trading after hours at $17.20, up four cents from the regular-session close.

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