Updated to correct misstated year-earlier earnings figures for Diana. The company earned $57.5 million in the third quarter of 2008, not $94 million.

ATHENS (

TheStreet

) -- Like many of its dry-bulk cargo peers,

Diana Shipping

(DSX) - Get Report

surpassed Wall Street forecasts for its third quarter, even as results continued to show severe declines from a year ago.

Diana, well known as one of the more conservative publicly traded Greek dry bulkers, has had to contend with a drop-off in pricing from the third quarter last year, when marine shippers were just beginning to feel the full effect of the financial collapse.

The average daily rate fetched by Diana's fleet of 19 ships during the third quarter came to $32,367, down from $48,207 a year ago.

Still, the company managed to turn in a profit above expectations. Earlier this earnings season,

DryShips

(DRYS) - Get Report

and

Genco Shipping & Trading

(GNK) - Get Report

were able to do the same,

DryShips coming in 35% above estimates

and

Genco 9% above

.

Diana reported net income of $28.7 million, or 36 cents a share, beating the consensus target by two pennies. Still, that's down almost 50% from a year ago, when Diana earned $57.5 million, or 77 cents a share.

Revenue fell 33% to $58.2 million from $87.4 million a year ago. Analysts were looking for a top-line reading of $55.5 million.

Diana recently announced the delivery of a capesize ship and a long-term charter for it. (At this point, Diana charters most of its capesize vessels, the largest class of dry-bulk hauler in the world, to the Australian iron-ore mining giant

BHP Billiton

(BHP) - Get Report

). The company said it will take delivery of another capesize ship, bringing its fleet to 21, in February 2010. It also said it already has a charter for the boat.

Diana's fleet-expansion strategy has been to purchase ships being built in shipyards from distressed sellers who can no longer afford the new boats, or from banks who have taken the property from the original owners.

"Our intention is to continue pursuing our strategy to take advantage of the growth opportunities presented during this low phase of the shipping cycle," Diana's chief, Simeon Palios, said in a written statement. He added that the company "intends to purchase attractively priced vessels in a gradual and disciplined manner over the next two years."

Diana shares opened higher Tuesday morning, trading recently at $14.31, up a little more than 1% from the prior day's close. DryShips shares, meanwhile, slipped 1.3%, while Genco was nearly flat.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.