) -- Dry-bulk freight line operator

Genco Shipping & Trading

(GNK) - Get Report

reported a modest year-over-year increase in its quarterly profit Wednesday but had little to say about the direction of freight rates amid a crushing collapse of that market since the beginning of the year.

Genco said it earned $37.5 million, or 90 cents a share, in the final period of 2010, compared with a profit of $35.5 million, or $1.13 a share, in the year-earlier period. The per-share drop was caused by dilution from a stock offering that Genco conducted during 2010 in order to raise money for its acquisition of more than a dozen ships this past summer.

Revenue came to $130.6 million, up from $96.2 million a year ago.

Wall Street analysts were, on average, predicting per-share earnings of 96 cents on revenue of $126 million.

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Genco's preference has been to have greater exposure to spot-market shipping rates than its peers, who have chosen to lock their fleets into long-term charter contracts with fixed fees.

Judging by the words of Genco President Gerald Buchanan in a prepared statement, that strategy will remain in place. The executive said the company will "maintain an opportunistic approach to employing our vessels on short-term contracts with staggered durations while preserving the ability to benefit from future rate increases."

A well-documented glut of new ships, especially Capesize vessels, has thrown the supply-demand balance out of whack. On Wednesday, the going daily fee for a Capesize ship stood at about $5,300. According to industry pros, it costs between $7,000 and $10,000 per day to operate one of these craft, which specialize in hauling iron ore.

The plunge in day rates has been swift and severe. In November, the same ship on the same route fetched $40,000 a day.

Three of Genco's nine Capesize vessels -- the class of ship that has been hurt the most by the 2011 collapse in freight rates -- were hired out under short-term contracts that are linked to the movements of rates on the spot market. The company, however, said those arrangements carry options under which Genco could effectively hike the rate to something more than the spot market.

The stock closed Wednesday's regular session at $11.52, down 5 cents. Year-to-date, Genco shares have given up 20%.

Among other dry-bulk names,

Diana Shipping

(DSX) - Get Report

also reported

humdrum fourth-quarter earnings

this week, while DryShips is expected to report in March. Analysts are looking for DryShips to earn 25 cents a share in the quarter, up from a profit of 19 cents a year earlier.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York


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