Just as a reminder, remarks we make during the course of this call regarding our earnings guidance, business strategy, plans for future operations and industry conditions are forward-looking statements made pursuant to the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995.And I'm now going to turn the call over to Kevin. M. Kevin McEvoy Good morning, and thanks for joining the call. I'm happy to be here with you today. Our record first quarter EPS of $0.47 was above our guidance range of $0.44 to $0.46 and was up over 20% compared to the first quarter of 2011. Year-over-year, all of our business segments achieved higher operating income led by remotely operated vehicles. We are well-positioned to participate in the next growth stage of Deepwater and subsea completion activity. And our outlook for 2012 remains very positive. We are maintaining our 2012 EPS guidance range of $2.45 to $2.65, another record earnings year. For our services and products, we expect continued international demand growth and a moderate rebound in overall activity in the Gulf of Mexico. Yesterday, we announced an increase in our regular quarterly cash dividend to $0.18 from $0.15 a share. This underscores our confidence in Oceaneering's financial strength and future business prospects. I'd now like to review our first quarter oilfield segment results. Year-over-year, ROV operating income improved on a strength of higher demand in most areas of the world, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico and Northwest Africa. Our ROV days on hire increased 17%. Sequentially, operating income declined slightly due to geographic mix changes and normal seasonality. Our fleet utilization rate during the quarter was 79%, up from 71% in the first quarter of 2011 and flat with the fourth quarter of 2011. We continue to expect that our fleet utilization for the year will be 80% or more.
Operating margin during the quarter was 29%, the same as a year ago and last quarter and slightly down from the 30% average last year. We continue to anticipate our ROV operating margin for the year 2012, maybe slightly higher than that of 2011.During the quarter, we put 5 new ROVs into service and retired 2. At the end of March, we had 270 systems available for operation, up from 260, a year ago. Three of the new ROV's went to work on board vessels, and 2 went into drill support service on rigs. Our fleet mix during the quarter was 78% in drill support and 22% on vessel-based work, the same as last quarter and about the same as the 79-21 split in the first quarter of 2011. We still anticipate adding 20 to 25 vehicles to our ROV fleet in 2012, 15 to 20 during the remaining 3 quarters and we presently have contracts for 19 of these. Some of these expected start days could, however, slip into 2013. Now turning to Subsea Products. Year-over-year, first quarter operating income increased on higher demand for tooling and our Subsea Hardware. Primarily due to project timing, operating income declined sequentially on lower demand for Subsea Hardware and Installation and Workover Control System, or IWOCS services. Consistent with our expectation, products on operating margin is 17% for the quarter, with less than the 18% result for the first quarter of 2011, 21% of last quarter, and 18% for all of last year. For the year 2012, Subsea Products margin may be slightly lower than 2011 due to unanticipated change in mix. However, we continue to expect a record segment operating income for the year. Our Subsea Products backlog at quarter end was $402 million, up from $382 million at the end of both March and December of 2011. Year-over-year, and sequentially, the backlog increase was attributable to tooling. Since the end of the quarter, we announced the award of Petrobras' Whales Park Umbilical Contract that added $70 million to our products backlog.
As for our remaining business operations for the first quarter. Year-over-year and sequentially, Subsea Projects operating income was higher, due to the commencement of field support vessel services contract with BP offshore Angola. The improvement was also partially attributable to the addition of the Ocean Patriot to our Gulf of Mexico fleet and our field operations in Australia acquired with the AGR FO in December 2011.Read the rest of this transcript for free on seekingalpha.com