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What: Shares of Tidewater (NYSE:TDW) are up 12% at 3:00 p.m. ET today after announcing quarterly earnings results that were not as bad as Wall Street expected.

So what: This is one of those situations where Wall Street is just happy that things weren't as bad as it predicted. Tidewater's fiscal third-quarter results published after the market closed yesterday that showed the company's per-share loss to be $0.07 after adjusting for asset impairment costs. By comparison, consensus estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ expected Tidewater to post a $0.33 loss for the quarter. 

The biggest difference for Tidewater this past quarter was its ability to cut costs. The company was able to cut its vessel operating and SG&A costs by 38% compared to the same quarter last year, which helped to offset a similar decline in revenue. Keeping its cash costs down enabled the company to generate some free cash flow that was put to paying down a portion of debt. 

As you can guess, though, the good news pretty much stopped there. Utilization rates for the company's fleet dell across the board to 58.4%, and the average dayrate for part of Tidewater's fleet fell by 25%. With another six of its eight vessels under construction to be delivered in 2016, the company will likely find itself with a few too many vessels when the market for offshore drilling support vessels is weak. 

Now what: Tidewater did a pretty commendable job of keeping its costs down in the quarter to keep from falling too deep in the red, and Wall Street is rewarding that today with a double digit stock bump. With the market for offshore drilling and production waning and costs for new vessels coming, however, it may be a little too early to get overly optimistic about Tidewater's longer-term prospects.

Tyler Crowe has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow him at Fool.com or on Twitter @TylerCroweFool.

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