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* 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.