May 3, 2012 / 10:21 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 2-Hornbeck Offshore sees higher costs; shares fall

* Co says higher costs on wage increases for mariners

* Q1 adj EPS $0.27 vs est $0.29

* Revenue up 66 pct

* Shares down as much as 6 pct

May 3 (Reuters) - Hornbeck Offshore Inc’s first-quarter profit narrowly missed analysts’ expectations, and the offshore supply vessel provider said full-year costs will be higher due to wage increases for its mariners.

Hornbeck shares, which have risen 31 percent so far this year, fell 6 percent to $40.29 on Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange.

The company said full-year operating costs will rise to $243 million to $255 million, from $230 million to $242 million it forecast earlier.

Hornbeck said there had been a market-driven wage increase for all offshore vessel mariners in the Gulf of Mexico, which forced it to raise its wages.

The company raised its full-year forecast for spot market dayrates for its fleet of new-generation offshore vessels to $30,000-$36,000, from $28,000-$30,000 earlier.

Hornbeck said improved market conditions helped it re-activate 12 vessels and double spot dayrates for some of its vessels during the first quarter.

On a conference call with analysts, a company executive said Gulf of Mexico activity over the last few months had been “promising,” but added the “pace of permitting will be uneven for some time to come.”

The Obama administration imposed a four-and-a-half-month moratorium on deepwater drilling after the BP Plc oil spill, which spewed more than 4 million barrels of crude into the basin in 2010.

Though permitting activity has picked up, it remains choppy. Business group Greater New Orleans Inc found that an average of three permits a month were approved in the November to January period, compared with nearly six a month in the year before the spill.

Horbeck’s upstream segment comprises 46 active new-generation offshore vessels and four multi-purpose support vessels, 20 of which were operating in the Gulf of Mexico as of Dec. 31, 2011, according to a regulatory filing.

The company’s net income for the first quarter was $6.3 million, or 18 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $9 million, or 34 cents per share, a year ago.

Excluding items, profit was 27 cents per share.

Revenue rose 66 percent to $120 million.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn 29 cents per share on revenue of $119.8 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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