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Excel Maritime Carriers Ltd. declared mixed financial results for the first quarter of 2012. GAAP net loss in the reported quarter was $36.6 million or a loss of 42 cents per share compared with a net loss of $1 million or 1 cent per share in the year-ago quarter. However, quarterly adjusted (excluding special-items) earnings per share of a loss of 41 cents were higher than the Zacks Consensus Estimate of a loss of 37 cents.

Quarterly total revenue was $65 million compared with $98.1 million in the prior-year quarter. This massive decline was primarily attributable to an extremely volatile freight environment of the global drybulk shipping industry. Nevertheless, quarterly Voyage revenue of approximately $64.1 million beats the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $61 million. In the reported quarter, Time Charter Equivalent (TCE) per day was $14,048 compared with $19,642 in the prior-year quarter.

Quarterly total operating expenses were nearly $82.4 million, down 10.9% year over year. Operating loss in the reported quarter was $17.4 million compared with an operating income of $7 million in the year-ago quarter. Quarterly adjusted EBITDA was $22.2 million, down 53.8% year over year. An average of 47 Excel Maritime vessels were operated during the first quarter of 2012 compared with 48.3 in the year-ago quarter. Management announced that the company secured under time charter employment of 67% for its entire fleet and 100% for capsize vessels for fiscal 2012.

During the first quarter of 2012, Excel Maritime generated $4.3 million of cash from operations compared with $43.8 million in the year-ago quarter. Free cash flow (cash flow from operations less capital expenditure) in the reported quarter was $4 million compared with $25.5 million in the prior-year quarter.

At the end of the first quarter of 2012, Excel Maritime had $31 million of cash & cash equivalents compared with $53.8 million at the end of 2011. Total debt, at the end of the previous quarter, was $1,030.9 million compared with $1,154 million at the end of 2011. At the end of the reported quarter, debt-to-capitalization ratio was 0.40 compared with 0.37 at the end of 2011.

Recommendation

Excel Maritime operates under highly competitive drybulk shipping industry. The company’s main competitors are Diana Shipping Inc. (DSX - Snapshot Report), Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd. , and DryShips Inc. (DRYS - Analyst Report). We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Excel Maritime. Currently, the company holds a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) on the stock.

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