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Diamond Offshore issues special dividend

HOUSTON (AP) -- Diamond Offshore Drilling declared a special cash dividend Thursday and shares rose 1 percent in afternoon trading after the company easily topped Wall Street profit and revenue forecasts for the first quarter.

The company's special dividend of 75 cents per share, along with its regularly quarterly dividend of 12.5 cents per share, is payable June 3 to shareholders of record as of May 7. The Houston company has a policy of considering special dividends on a quarterly basis but gave no further details on the reason behind the special payment.

Diamond earned $176 million, or $1.27 per share, for its first quarter, which ended March 31. That is compared with net income of $185.2 million, or $1.33 per share, in the first quarter last year. Its total revenue fell to $729.7 million from $768.6 million last year, when it got a major revenue boost from the sale of a rig.

The rig deal yielded an after-tax gain of approximately $16 million, or 12 cents per share.

Analysts polled by FactSet were expecting the company to earn $1.15 per share on revenue of $715.2 million.

Diamond's President and CEO Larry Dickerson said the quarter also shows the benefit of cost controls and said it has secured several deals recently that indicate improving demand for its rigs.

Shares of Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. increased 72 cents to $69.40 by early afternoon. Its shares are in the middle of its 52-week trading range of $55.83 to $76.85.