Seaspan Corporation Earnings: Solid Growth Yields Another Divided Boost

Seaspan Corporation reported fourth-quarter results late Monday night. The containership owner and operator reported solid results that were buoyed by two new vessels added to its fleet in the quarter, as well as strong vessel utilization. That solid quarter, combined with the company's outlook for continued solid results, gave it the confidence to boost its dividend by 9% to $0.375 per share.

A closer look at the numbersSeaspan reported revenue of $189.4 million, which was 10.4% higher than the fourth quarter of 2013. The growth can be largely attributed to the six 10,000 20-foot-equivalent-unit vessels the company accepted for delivery in 2014, of which two were added to the fleet just last quarter. Those vessels brought in an additional $19.4 million in revenue during the fourth quarter. In addition to the tangible growth from these new vessels, Seaspan's revenue was also bolstered by strong vessel utilization of 98.7% in the quarter, which was slightly better than the 98.5% in the fourth quarter of 2013.

These additional ships helped boost Seapan's bottom line to $40.1 million, which was 19.9% higher than the same quarter of 2013. However, on a per-share basis, normalized earnings came in at only $0.27 per share, or 8% higher than the prior year, because of equity issuance. That said, a more important metric for long-term investors to pay attention to is cash available for distribution to common shareholders, which was $78.7 million for the quarter. Not only was that twice the company's normalized earnings, but it was also up 10.7% from the prior year.

The fleet continues to grow The company continues to grow by steadily adding new vessels to its fleet, which now stands at 77 vessels. During the quarter, the company made a number of moves to continue that momentum into the future, as it placed an order for two more ships for future delivery. However, Seaspan will retain only one of the two vessels, as the other will be acquired by the company's investment partnership with The Carlyle Group's Greater China Intermodal Investments.

In addition, it amended an option agreement during the quarter that it signed this past August. The amended agreement gives Seaspan until this June to exercise its options to acquire up to six additional vessels, with delivery dates in 2017 and 2018. The agreement gives the company the flexibility to either acquire the vessels for its fleet of have the vessels acquired by its partnership with the Carlyle Group.

Investor takeawaySeaspan continues its slow and steady growth. That growth is yielding a steady supply of dividend increases, as the company has now boosted the payout six times since 2010. With more newbuild deliveries on the way, that dividend looks poised to continue growing in the future.

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Matt DiLallo has the following options: short May 2015 $22.5 puts on Seaspan. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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