Global Ship Lease has exceeded analyst expectations for the third quarter, despite earning less profit mostly due to having higher operating expenses.

The London-based owner of 68 container ships posted $82.4m in net profit for the three-month period, down from the $87.5m earned in the same quarter of last year.

These bottom-line results led to adjusted earnings per share of $2.33 for the quarter and beat Wall Street consensus by $0.18, according to data from Seeking Alpha.

Third-quarter revenue improved to $175m from $173m a year earlier, but higher costs offset the better topline enough to result in a lower profit compared to a year earlier.

Vessel operating expenses for the quarter came in at $46.1m, up from $41m a year ago, mainly due to the addition of four 8,455-teu vessels to the fleet in the second quarter.

Macro headwinds, geopolitical uncertainty and a large orderbook are concerns for the sector, but GSL has offset them with an efficient fleet and lucrative fixed-rate term charters during recent-year market highs, chairman George Youroukos said.

“The combination of our strong balance sheet and the continued normalisation of asset prices is making the prospect of selective, and increasingly countercyclical, vessel acquisitions more interesting, with any eventual purchase activity guided by our established strict investment criteria focused on creating shareholder value,” he said in a statement.

GSL declared a shareholder dividend of $0.375 for the third quarter, continuing the payout it gave in the prior quarter.

Chief executive Ian Webber noted that GSL has also continued to lower its debt “on a firm foundation” of attractive time charters. The company’s debt stood at $874m at the end of the third quarter, down from $1bn at the same point in 2022.

GSL posted $232m in profit for the first nine months of 2023, up from the $221m recorded in the same time frame in 2022.

Revenue for the same period this year came in at $230m, up from $211m during the first nine months of last year.