(Updated to include Thursday's stock price decilnes)ATHENS (TheStreet) -- Excel Maritime (EXM) shares continued to fall sharply Thursday after the Greek dry-bulk shipping company reported humdrum quarterly results yesterday.Also weighing on Excel stock and dry bulkers across the board in Thursday's session was another decline in shipping rates. Prices for the huge Capesize vessels dropped to $48,000 a day, a level not seen since April. In its Wednesday earnings report, Excel blamed "global economic conditions" for the poor year-over-year comparisons for its just-ended second quarter: profit that declined 37% and revenue that was down 15%. It's certainly true that a year ago dry bulk companies were minting cash on record-high shipping rates before the crash in the fall of 2008. But Excel individually has struggled with a significant debt load, leverage it took on to expand its fleet aggressively when business was riding high. As shipping rates have improved from their historic nadir in January and February, and as cash flows have consequently improved across the industry, investors are looking to see if Excel (and other debt-leaden bulkers) can use some of that cash to pay down their loans. Excel gave no indication of that in its second-quarter earnings release. According to the consolidated balance sheet included in the report, the company has $2.26 billion in total liabilities, up from $1.9 billion a year ago. As for its income statement, it was difficult to find the bottom-line figure that would compare with Wall Street's consensus estimates for the just-ended quarter. Excel said its net income came in at $78 million, or $1.05 a share, down from last year's $123.6 million, or $3.06 a share. But those 2009 figures included a slew of items in the plus category: the amortization of time charters that Excel took on when it acquired Quintana Maritime in April 2008 and $14.3 million in gains from increases in the value of its interest-rate swap holdings (which are used as hedging instruments). Amid broad declines in dry-bulk shares Thursday, investors continued to sell off Excel stock after a sharp decline in the previous session. The shares were changing hands midday Thursday at $7.66, down 12%, or $1.07, on volume of 7 million shares. Average daily turnover is 2.5 million.
Excel also shifted the way it accounts for dry-docking costs as well as its convertible notes. It therefore retroactively adjusted results for all quarters. The upshot: reduced income of 4 cents a share in the second quarter of 2009. After all that, the company had earnings of 11 cents a share, according to the calculations of Natasha Boyden, a drybulk equities analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, though nowhere in Excel's press release did this number occur. Analysts collectively were expecting 8 cents a share on revenue of $94.5 million. "People may have been looking for a bigger beat," Boyden said. Excel said that 66% of its fleets' operating days for the second half of 2009 are now locked up in long-term charters, and 53% for 2010. The degree to which a bulker has inked long-term charters indicates the degree it has protected itself from declining spot-market rates, or blocked itself from taking advantage of increasing spot-market rates. In the second quarter, the company's 47 ships (which encompass a range of classes from 5 of the gigantic Capesize vessels to 5 of the relatively small Handymax) took in $22,148 a day on average, down from $33,325 a day a year earlier.
Dry bulkers have been steadily releasing their second-quarter results over the last week.
DryShips ( DRYS) also topped Wall Street expectations, as did Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK - Get Report), though both suffered from year-over-year comparisons. Eagle Bulk ( EGLE - Get Report) is slated to release results after Wednesday's bell and Diana Shipping ( DSX - Get Report) on Thursday morning. -- Reported by Scott Eden in New York