Genco Shipping Falls Despite OK Quarter

Genco Shipping posts a decent first quarter, but not decent enough to withstand a broader equity selloff.
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Genco Shipping & Trading (GNK) - Get Report, which completed the initial public offering of Baltic Trading (BALT) during the just-ended quarter in one of the first shipping IPOs in years, posted results that were basically even with expectations after Monday's stock-market close.

But although Genco impressed some observers with a shift in its chartering strategy and an improved balance sheet, that wasn't enough to withstand a broader market selloff, as investors reacted to another negative turn in Greece's ongoing debt drama.

Shares of Genco were changing hands in recent trades Tuesday morning at $22.92, down $1.03, or 4.3%. In recent quarters, the stock has shown a tendency to sell off after earnings reports.

As for its chartering strategy, Genco had previously chosen to place a substantial portion of its fleet on the spot market relative to its publicly traded peers. But the company during the first quarter started fixing more of its ships on long-term charters.

Over the last several months, Genco has increased its contract coverage for 2010 to 67% of its fleet, up from 58%. That includes two Capesize ships, the enormous vessels that mostly haul iron ore, which Genco hired out for a year at a daily rate of $36,000 to $39,000.

The strategy, analysts say, has allowed Genco to both take advantage of a

recent run-up in dry-bulk shipping rates

and to heighten the transparency of its business for the rest of the year.

Genco also strengthened its balance sheet during the quarter, improving its net debt to capital ratio to 39% from 50%, largely as a result of consolidating Baltic onto its balance sheet.

Analysts expect Genco, which holds a stake in Baltic, to begin profiting from its offspring over the next few quarters as the new company puts its first ships to work. In a note to clients Tuesday morning, Omar Nokta, shipping analyst at Dahlman Rose, said he sees Baltic boosting Genco's bottom line by 4 cents a share in 2010 and 32 cents a share in 2011. Nokta rates Genco stock a buy with a 12-month price target of $30.

(Baltic, which took delivery of its first vessel in early April, reported results in tandem with Genco, though Baltic in the quarter hadn't started operations.)

Credit Suisse analyst Greg Lewis, however, noted in a post-earnings report Monday night that 16 of its ships will see their long-term charter agreements come to an end over the course of the next 12 months. Since Genco inked those charters when the shipping business was stronger than it is now, "we would expect these vessels to be rechartered at lower levels," Lewis wrote. He has a neutral rating on the stock, with a $25 price target.

For the first quarter, Genco reported earnings of $33.5 million, or $1.06 a share, better than the consensus Wall Street target of $1.03, but below the $41 million, or $1.32 a share, it earned in first quarter of 2009.

Revenue came to $94.7 million, down 2% from the year-ago period. Though spot rates were collapsing in the first quarter of 2009 because of the financial crisis, Genco, like many of its peers, had enough of its fleet fixed on charters inked before the crash at elevated rates that its results stood up.

Other dry-bulk stocks were declining Tuesday, with


(DRYS) - Get Report

shedding 4% to $5.84,

Diana Shipping

(DSX) - Get Report

falling 1.3% to $15.40, and

Excel Maritime


giving up 3.4% to $7.22.

-- 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, 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.