UPDATE 1-Diamond Offshore profit beats estimates on higher utilization

Thu Apr 25, 2013 7:35am EDT

* Q1 EPS $1.27 vs est $1.16

* Revenue falls 5 pct to $729.7 mln

* Deepwater unit utilization at 94 pct vs 88 pct year ago

April 25 (Reuters) - Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc, one of the world's top five offshore rig contractors, reported first-quarter results above analysts' expectations due to higher utilization of its deepwater units.

Utilization of deepwater floaters rose to 94 percent from 88 percent a year earlier. Rates for the units also rose 8 percent, resulting in a 13 percent rise in revenue from deepwater units.

Net income fell to $176 million, or $1.27 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $185.2 million, or $1.33 per share, a year earlier.

Total revenue fell 5 percent to $729.7 million.

Analysts on average expected a profit of $1.16 on revenue of $712.7 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company's net income in the first quarter of 2012 included an after-tax gain of about $16 million, or $0.12 per share, from the sale of a rig.

Diamond Offshore also declared a special quarterly cash dividend of 75 cents per share and a regular cash dividend of 125 cents per share.

Rival Noble Corp posted a higher-than-expected profit last week as it put some of its struggles with fleet maintenance behind it and rig activity headed higher.