Genco Shipping Tops Street on Charter Use

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK), the dry bulker, managed to beat Wall Street targets Wednesday, citing a strong dependence on time charters versus the spot market.

The company, in its earnings release, played up the fact that it's locked in shipping rates with long-term contracts, which has allowed it to avoid the volatility of the spot market. About 67% of its fleet is chartered under such arrangements for the rest of the year, Genco said.

Of course, this also means the company could miss out on a jump in spot rates should demand increase for dry-bulk shipping services -- the boats that haul iron ore and other raw materials to the factories of the world, which is to say, mostly China.

But in the second quarter, the strategy for Genco seems to have paid off. The company reported earnings of $37.6 million, or $1.20 a share, beating analysts' estimates by six cents on an EPS basis.

It wasn't enough to save year-over-year comparisons, however. Genco earned $60.9 million, or $2.03 a share, in the same period of 2008. And revenue fell 10% to about $94 million from $104.6 million -- an indication that global trade remains well below last year's activity, and that shipping rates are still under pressure, no matter whether those rates were achieved by contract or on the open market.

Indeed, Genco said its average daily time-charter-equivalent rate, fleet wide, dropped 21% to $32,245 a day. In the year-ago second quarter, Genco was able to fetch $40,945 a day.

Genco's 35 ships include seven of the giant Capesize vessels, the largest dry bulk class on the seas, as well as eight midsize Panamax. The company will take delivery of two additional Capesize boats, but it didn't say when.

Genco shares were trading modestly higher after hours, up 4 cents to $24.60.

Genco is the first major dry bulk shipper to report this earnings season. Bellwether DryShips ( DRYS) will release its numbers Thursday after the bell, while Diana Shipping ( DSX) will go on August 6.

-- Reported by Scott Eden in New York.

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