Drybulk cargo carrier

Diana Shipping

(DSX) - Get Report

reported a 35% decline in first-quarter earnings as the global recession hurt demand and rates fell in response.

Diana, based in Athens, said it made $34.8 million, or 47 cents a share, in the just-ended period, surpassing analysts' estimates by a penny. A year ago, Diana posted earnings of $53.2 million, or 71 cents a share.

In afternoon trading Wednesday, Diana shares were trading at $18.34, up almost 7% on the day.

Voyage and time-charter revenue fell nearly 21% to $62.7 million from $78.9 million a year ago, the company said. It blamed the fall-off on cheaper rates combined with fewer operating days during the quarter, partially offset by the contribution of the recently acquired Norfolk bulk-carrier ship to the company's top line.

Quarterly financial results of drybulk carriers are widely watched as indicators for the health of the global economy, as the business is one measure of the relative robustness of world trade.

Diana's average time charter equivalent rate, a gauge of how busy the company's fleet was during the quarter, came in at $34,898 a day, an almost 23% decline from the year-earlier period's $45,191 a day.

Diana rival

DryShips

(DRYS) - Get Report

reported earnings last Friday that also surpassed Wall Street targets, and its shares have climbed sharply higher since then. The trend continued Wednesday; DryShips stock was up 9% to $10.61 on heavy volume in afternoon trading.

Other shipping companies saw their stocks rise during the session.

Tidewater

(TDW) - Get Report

was up 4% and

Frontline

(FRO) - Get Report

up 5%.

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