Digging Into the Past – From Handshake to ‘Shareholder Value’ Part I/II (19 July 2019)

euros shipping investmentAlthough centuries of merchant shipping have passed, the kind of financing of ships in general has been the same throughout the years. There exist two possibilities: (1) a merchant has enough capital to buy and maintain a ship or (2) a ship is financed through the sale of shares and borrowing to a number of investors willing to participate in the enterprise. Since early times, for this kind of financing it was normal that only a certain amount of money truly existed as cash, with other parts of the money being ‘on the books’ or in bonds or loans (promises). The merchant normally was also the ship’s captain and responsible for the construction of the ship and the management of the whole enterprise. He sought partners and, furthermore, borrowed according to “Shipping Terms” for the sea loans or, in regular terms, in view of establishing a risk sharing mechanism. Only on rare occasions did a vessel belong to a single owner.

At the end of eighteenth century in Greece, for instance—one of the main ship-trading countries of the time—returns on the capital of the ship owner as well as the interest charged on the loans were carefully calculated. Loans were on a per-voyage basis and had a duration of a few months. These loans were subject to the “risks and dangers of the sea”, namely if the vessel was lost no claims could made against the property of the merchant shipowner. It is not known what other specific loan types were available.

The entire capital-raising procedure at the end of the eighteenth century was similar to the one that is followed today in the launching of private equity funds. The launch was carried out in a restricted time interval and the personality of the leading fund manager was instrumental in the success of the fund-raising effort. The call was addressed to the important members of the local society. Surely, the merchant circulated a financing proposal for the particular vessel in a closed circle, providing shipping and financial details, a kind of business plan that must have included some estimate of the required financing as well as a certain forecast of revenues to be expected.

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BMTI Handy Bulk Market Update (17 July 2019)

dry bulk terminalIn the Atlantic there is ample reason for the owners to celebrate and enjoy playing around with charterers. Now the charterer’s flexibility is challenged to prepare the ground for a deal with the owner. Kamsarmax owners have been commanding US$ 30,000 daily for a fronthaul run from the Continent.

Handysize owners are somewhat less sanguine and believe the market has peaked – temporarily at least. A 38,000dwt got US$ 13,000 daily for a trip from the Baltic to the East Med, and 33,000dwt was open at US$ 7,500 daily for a trip to the USG, which the same owners covered last week at US$ 9,000 daily, and which rate they have so far not seen this week.

The larger sizes keep running the show from Black Sea. An 82,000dwt tonnage was covered at US$ 19,000 daily from Canakkale to Baltic with redelivery Skaw. An Ultra was offered US$ 27,000 daily from East Med via Black Sea to Singapore/Japan, after owners indicated to charterers US$ 16,500 daily from WC India via Black Sea to the East. The owner was offered US$ 15,500 daily for short period. Continue reading

Short Sea: Azov Freights Pushed by River Tonnage (12 July 2019)

Coaster freight rates are picking up as “grain market for river tonnage is very hot”, a broker working in the area is telling BMTI, explaining “owners three weeks before were asking for about US$ 19/mt for 3,000mt of wheat for a trip from Rostov to Marmara and last week rates of US$ 25/mt to Marmara were seen”. Freight rates in a range of US$ 23-24/mt are talked for voyages with loading in the Ukraine and heading to the Eastern Med with basis 1,000 discharge. Mid-July shipments are expected to be even substantially higher with rumours around of some US$ 28-29/mt from Russian ports to Izmir, basis 1,000 discharge. According to a local charterer for voyages out of Azov to the Adriatic owners are demanding mid-low US$ 30s/mt, compared to high US$ 20s/mt during the last months.

Seagoing coaster on the other hand still have to accept lower freight rates as the market remains weaker and probably stay so until end of August. A corn shipment of 8,000mt has been concluded at a rate of around US$ 14.50/mt with delivery Constanta and destination in Greek Cyprus. From the Egyptian Med a fertilizer cargo of 3,000mt was talked in a range of US$ 21/mt for a redelivery in the upper Adriatic. Some steels of 9,000mt loading in the port of Novorossiysk saw a freight rate of about US$ 23/mt for delivery in the Egyptian Med and a voyage in the Black Sea from Odessa to Constanta was concluded at a freight rate of some US$12/mt for a shipment of 3,000mt of steel billets

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Bulker Shipbroking Overview (10 July 2019)

Yesterday’s assumption of a possible break seems to be right. With the exception of the fronthaul the Capesizes have recovered the losses they have gone through. The rounds in both basins are talked in a range of US$ 28,500-28,800 daily for the Atlantic side and at some US$ 23-23,300 per day for the Pacific. Iron ore voyages are steadily sailing on their ocean-highways with freight rates for end July loading a bit below US$ 9/mt when coming from Western Australia and a bit above US$ 22/mt when loading port is in Brazil.

The Panamaxes enjoy the growing of the spot freight rates at an even accelerating pace in both hemispheres although business is quite low at the moment. Only a flurry of coal shipments heading to India are seen at freight rates for loading in Eastern Australia at the beginning of August in the mid-high teens. Fronthauls for modern tonnage of around 82,000 dwt are trying to touch the US$ 25,000 daily mark.

The situation for the smaller sizes is without major changes in the Atlantic basin. Spot freight rates keep on climbing and there are business opportunities around. In the East the market can be characterized as flat with some retreat in rates like a 56,000 dwt open mid China going to India via Indonesia at a low US$ 7,000s daily rate.

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Ship Finance Review (4 July 2019)

Wall StreetAnalyst J Mintzmyer of Seeking Alpha has identified Star Bulk Carriers [SBLK] as a “dry bulk pure play” due to its current value at around US$ 8.4 being a “massive” 35% discount to its NAV (net asset value) and the company’s well-positioned, modern fleet which is set to be 100% fitted with scrubbers before the IMO 2020 regulations come into play. Mintz­myer also sees great potential in SBLK due to the current rally in Capesize rates (with day rates up to US$19,000 this week vs. US$4-7,000 three months ago) and Vale’s resuming iron ore output at its mines that were closed until recently following January’s mine disaster. The analyst has accordingly raised his fair value estimate for SBLK to US$ 14 per share. Continue reading

Container Market Update (2 July 2019)

container shipContainership rates burst into action in the past week with several main benchmark rates leaping by 15-25% week-on-week, including those rates from Shanghai to South America (basis Santos), which rose by more than 25% to reach US$ 2,260/TEU, according to the SCFI. The main index itself in­creased by a very strong 8.5%, as a measure of all rates together, posting 829.7 by the end of last week. Other big gainers included rates to USWC, which rose by 24.5% week-on-week to US$ 1,720/TEU. Rates to USEC rose as well, if not quite as sharply, gaining 16.0% on the week to hit US$ 2,789/TEU. The combined US destination routes account for 40% of the total SCFI calculation, so their increase has had a significant impact. Rates to Europe were less spectacularly improved with Mediterranean Sea redelivery, in fact, losing 0.7% on the week to settle in the vicinity of US$ 726/TEU, based on the SCFI. Continue reading

Baltic Short Sea: Sluggish Summer Sentiment (27 June 2019)

baltic sea short seaSettling from last week’s minor uptick in activity and sentiment—perhaps buoyed by increasing bunker prices as well—rates for northern ships have settled back into their historical sideways motion as owners continue to keep a hard line at operating costs, which is where rates continue to hover dangerously just above. Market dynamics are undeniably poised against owners at the moment, as they have been for most of the year, with open tonnage just plentiful enough in most areas of trade to keep charterers from feeling any urgency to fix on forward positions or give premium rates unless absolutely necessary. With the onset of summer sluggishness and wide­spread holiday-taking across northern and western Europe, there is little hope for a recovery in the short term. Whether July brings a new wave of demand, inspired by a return of grain from the southern Euro­pean markets as the Black Sea harvest starts, remains yet to be seen.

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Bulker Shipbroking Overview (26 June 2019)

Despite slowing in upward momentum, Capesize voyages do not appear to have hit a wall yet with modest improvements taking Brazil/ARAG voyage rates toward US$ 8.4/mt and Brazil/China toward US$ 18.5/mt. Whether they will keep rising over midweek is another issue, brokers strain to remind. Pacific RVs seem to be the first rates to buckle under the pause in demand with a flat and even rate of US$ 17,000 daily the newly downgraded (if just slightly downgraded) level for 180,000mt cargoes. The Atlantic spot basin, by comparison, is still going strong with a surprisingly robust US$ 1,000 upgrade on Tuesday taking average freights over US$ 19,000 and suggesting US$ 20,000 daily on the horizon.

The Panamaxes day in the sun seems to have ar­rived after several weeks of suffering pressure on rates and less-than-spectacular sentiment. The up­turn is most notable within the western hemisphere where owners are already seeking long haul rates at US$ 1,000 premiums to what they were asking for at the end of last week. A case in point is the trans-Atlantic round voyage from the Continent, which can now fetch upper US$ 8,000s daily on modern tonnage after settling for anything in the US$ 7,000s less than a week before. Pacific business is back in action as well with NoPac rounds pushing toward US$ 9,000 daily on standard tonnage to Singapore.

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Dry Bulk Commodity Update (19 June 2019)

scrap metal shippingRussia said it will begin enforcing regional quotas and limiting its exports of ferrous scrap beyond the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) starting in July and continuing for the six months thereafter. Further, starting next year, Russia says it will be handling scrap exports exclusively with an exchanged-based tender process. A bill in support of the new measures is expected to be introduced in September. The quotas will involve a series of specific coefficients to be assigned to each region in proportion to the shortage of ferrous scrap in the region. The lowest coefficient of 0.5 will be applied to Russia’s southern regions while the highest (1.5) will be set for Arkhangelsk. How this will effect scrap shipments within Europe is yet to be seen, especially for Turkey, the world’s top scrap importer. Turkey’s imports of shredded ferrous scrap, at any rate, have increased considerably in June so far with new data showing that Turkish mills bought 238,500mt of shredded scrap—comprising 15 single cargoes—since the start of June, which is more than twice the volume purchased by Turkey for the entirety of May (108,500mt). Scrap market observers speculate this increase in shredded steel imports to Turkey reflects a desire to build scrap stocks at presently favourable prices rather than in response to any growth in demand for domestic steel production.

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BMTI Handy Bulk Market Update (18 June 2019)

supramax bulk carrierThe chartering market is still looking for direction and seems at odds to find it. An abysmally poor rate of US$ 7,000 daily from the Baltic via Continent was reported done an Ultramax open in the Baltic. Steel operators were predicting a flurry of fresh orders off the Continent for Handysize tonnage and have al­ready fallen prey to this forecast by getting in ton­nage of 30-38,000 dwt for a trip from the Conti­nent-US-NCSA range at US$ 8,000-9,000 daily. Swire are still open to cover an Ultramax from the Continent to Brazil after they failed to look at one at US$6,500 daily, which is gone now. For a quick local employment for Supramax tonnage charterers were thinking along the lines of US$ 5-6,000 daily, which one Ultra owner would not do below US$ 10,000 daily. Nut coke charterers were seeing 37,000 dwt tonnage at the daily equivalent of below US$13,000.

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Ship Finance Review — Dry Spell Inspires Innovations in Cooperation

shipping financeCopenhagen-based bulk carrier operator Baltnav re­ports that it secured a profitable 2018, which has allowed it to expand globally with plans to open a new office in Brazil as well as new forays into ship management. The company’s net profit jumped to US$ 4.2m in 2018, solid performance for a company dealing exclusively in smaller sized Ultra-Supra-Handy bulk vessels. Baltnav, which operates a fleet of 47 vessels from Ultramax to Handysize types, employs a business model focused on extremely short charter contracts, typically only from one to three months of period trading. Nearly half the fleet is chartered for single sailings while a small per­centage is secured on longer 12-month period con­tracts. Continuing with this model, the company says that it expects to secure a profit in 2019 as well, although most likely falling below last year’s levels.

Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and this year’s challenging dry bulk market has seen quite a bit in the area of invention among owners seeking new ways to combine forces. This week, three Hamburg-based companies—Bertling, Nordic Hamburg and Oskar Wehr—announced plans for a new joint venture called OneBulk, intended to start operations in Hamburg and Singapore at the be­ginning of July. The combined fleet of the owner-operators would amount to about 50 vessels ranging from the Handysize to Kamsarmax sizes. In a state­ment, OneBulk said, “the partners will share their know-how and expert teams to leverage the best of all three companies and provide comprehensive commercial management solutions and associated services to vessel owners, charterers and investors.” The pool is open to new partners that can provide competitive solutions and “maximum flexibility”.

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Dry Bulk Market Overview (11 June 2019)

dry cargo shipThe recent Capesize rally—which has seen freights return to January levels enjoyed before the Brazil mine disaster and its related freight crisis—came to a pause at the resumption of business this week with few major changes seen either up or down, but some worrying corrections on the trans-Pacific RV. The Pac RV had been rising rather rapidly in recent days, only to see a sharper reversal of some US$ 300 (the strongest of all routes) in its assessment to settle in the US$ 17,000s. Another day of trading will likely indicate whether this is a speed bump or the end of the most recent recovery cycle. For now, with new fixtures lacking, the latter option seems most likely. A stretch of noncommittal days from charterers has left the Panamax markets high and dry at this stage of the month of June with owners left to hustle to find employment in a newly unsure market. TARVs have started to turn downward more quickly than in day past with the US$ 8,000s having already col­lapsed to the US$ 7,000s and trends suggesting that US$ 6,000s are not impossible before the week is over. Front hauls have also slowed with US$ 17,000 daily about the best that an ex-Continent trip can fix.

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Sideways Trends Turn into Minor Gains across Some Black Sea Routes

Black SeaIncreased coal movements around the Sea of Azov have helped buoy sentiment and rates to a limited degree, at the very least halting the slow decline seen in recent weeks. And amid the dominant sideways trend, there is word of some even fixing slightly higher levels over last-done as charterers prove will­ing to pay premiums for early June dates. Rising activity for scrap and coal shipments in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov comes as an encouraging trend for owners, who remain nonetheless sceptical about how much uplift this activity can or will provide. Azov to Marmara shipments continue to fix high teens of US$17-18/mt on 5,000mt (46′) grain. Coal is fixing similar rates on this run. Inter-Black Sea grain ex-Novo to Marmara are at US$ 15-16/mt.

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BMTI Container Market Review (28 May 2019)

container shipAgain taking a turn back toward the positive, rate trends ended up flatter than the week before, if only because the positive and negative movements were more uniformly distributed among various trade routes. On the whole, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index, rates only declined by a minimal 0.3% on average even as some rates saw significant gains ex-Shanghai such as rates to PG, which rose 7.5% week-on-week to US$ 657/TEU while others saw considerable declines such as those to South America, which were down 9.5% on the week to US$ 803/TEU. These extreme points of departure notwithstanding, the market for con­tainership freights behaved rather timidly over the past week with no more than 3% up or down seen on the majority of freights, the aforementioned excepted. On the buoyant end (after PG redelivery) shipments to Europe saw nearly 3% improvement (up 2.8%) on the week to close at solid levels of US$ 743/TEU while Mediterranean redelivery enjoyed upgrades of 2.0% week-on-week to settle at US$ 710/TEU. On the negative side of things, rates to the USWC and USEC fell by 3.4% and 2.2% on the week to US$ 1,294/TEU and US$ 2,540/TEU, re­spectively, while rates from Shanghai to East-West Africa also declined by about 2.4% week-on-week to close within the range of US$ 2,554/TEU.

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New Shipping Deals Inspire Investor Interest (27 May 2019)

investor interestNASDAQ-listed owner-operator Pangaea Logistics Solutions [PANL] says it plans to offer shareholders a quarterly dividend for the first time since going pub­lic in 2014. The US bulk carrier firm says it will pay US$ 0.035 from 11 June. CEO Ed Coll said the com­pany had a proven business model and that after re­investing profits in operations, Pangaea expected to become a leading “growth and income” company that cares about enhancing shareholder value. The company says it has managed to stay profitable, des­pite the ongoing dry bulk crisis, by offering logistical solutions to industrial clients with its owned and chartered-in fleet. Pangaea boasted income of US$ 3.7m against revenues of US$ 79.5m in Q1-2019.

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BMTI Handy Bulk Market Update (22 May 2019)

handysize vesselGreek owners are said to be little nervous about 2020 with the upcoming challenge to meet the now sulphur cap standards. Some believe this could lead to a three or four-tier market. The uncertainty is worrying them without doing too much about it. The Atlantic chartering market is lacking momen­tum, whilst South Africa is flourishing and of course the South American area is still being dominated by Kamsarmax demand, whilst other sizes are trailing. Off the Continent, voyage rates for local trading are equivalent to US$ 9,000 daily for Ultramax vessels. Scrap charterers were seeing US$ 15-16,000 daily for a trip to Bangladesh which sounds unrealistic. Handysize freight rates have been about holding with a 32,000 dwt fixed into the central Med in the region of US$ 9,500 daily with delivery in the Baltic. The dearth of inquiry from Med-Black Sea is keeping rates at pretty low levels. On the other hand, achiev­ing the equivalent of US$ 11,000 daily on a 62,000 dwt from West to East Med is not to be sniffed at.

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Dry Bulk Market Overview (17 May 2019)

Having had a relatively beneficial week, Capesizes start to flatten as the week ends with owners hoping that sentiment stays in their corner with trends moving sideways and some already trending down­ward. Front haul trips seem to have already peaked with the mid US$ 20,000s moving back into the US$ 24,000s and Pacific RVs into the US$ 11,000s. With Vale’s output very much in question and US-China trade conflicts at the fore, it remains to be seen what May has to give for this most volatile of bulk carrier sectors. But owners remain optimistic as ever. Panamaxes continue to enjoy their day in the sun with solid improvements on all freights observed across the board and charterers reluctantly giving premiums over last-done levels on nearly every rate. Front hauls that were getting low US$ 17,000s early in the week are now commanding high US$ 17,000s and even as much as US$ 18,000 daily in some cases. With little reason to do otherwise, Supramax own­ers are pushing for generously improved rates on all freights coming from the USG as more than US$ 12,000 daily has been observed on freights to the Continent and US$ 18,000 on front hauls with No­Pac redelivery. The rest of the market is less buoyant by comparison, but owners are undoubtedly in­spired to seek higher freights on nearly every rate.

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Short Sea: Pressure Grows on Baltic Rates Amid Sluggish Cargo Climate (14 May 2019)

baltic westward week19Declines in freights seem to have started to acceler­ate as the days of May lengthen with the lingering impact of holiday-strewn weeks having the expected braking effect on business activity in general. Char­terers have given up trying to play nice for the time being as owners note a more aggressive attempt to push freights to new lows. Cargo demand, despite being promised to return in earnest after Q1, re­mains less than spectacular, to put it nicely. Even for a European coaster market that has seen very little tonnage expansion in recent years, and one that remains thankfully tightly-bound to cargo demand, the wide availability of tonnage is undeniable. High teens that were tracked for most of the year on the westward Baltic route—from Balticum to ARAG—in the range of EUR 18-20/mt are now moving toward EUR 16-17/mt and lower, brokers report. Longer runs from the German Baltic to WCUK are looking at mid-low EUR 20s/mt of about EUR 23-25/mt, depending on terms. This remains true, although traders are already assuming the same business will be going for EUR 22-23/mt by the end of the month. The reverse trip from WCUK to the lower Baltic is seeing 3,000mt general cargoes fix middle teens of EUR 14-15/mt.

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Supramaxes gain on Black Sea front hauls (10 May 2019)

supramax bosporusThe decent handful of new TCs that came through for the Capesizes at midweek were not repeated by the end of the week, but no bother. Sentiment has been sufficiently triggered to start rising once again as the long-delayed requirements of the holiday period seem to be again entering the spot market with employment enquiries being reported by own­ers in the Atlantic and Pacific alike. Front hauls have been broadly upgraded with as much as US$ 23,500 daily on offer for standard tonnage from the Con­tinent into the CJK area. Voyage rates enjoy another boost as well with Brazil/China climbing back over the US$ 15/mt marker with some owners already claiming to have US$ 16/mt on lock for end-May.

Perhaps inspired by the same gust of wind that has lifted the Capes—not to mention a new sense of pur­pose in the East—Panamax freights are firming a little bit faster, suggesting potential for a real reco­very by next week, assuming trends hold steady. Front hauls have been getting fixed in the mid US$ 17,000s we are told, though this run is still too little frequented to make a fair assessment. Aussie rounds are pushing toward US$ 10,000 on Kamsarmaxes.

Improvements build for Supramaxes on Black Sea delivery with front hauls said to be hovering under US$ 13,000 daily on modern ships. Trans-Atlantic trades ex-USG remain problematic, but minerals on Tess 58s are securing steady rates of US$ 11,000 and up on UKC-Med redelivery with talk of US$ 11,500 on the horizon for the same business. Indo rounds are onwards and upwards with Supramax tonnage having set the new high water mark at US$ 9,500.

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Ship Finance Review — Challenging Market Drives Cooperation

financial buildingsImpairments on credit for shipping and petroleum investments of Danske Bank fell in the first quarter of the year, according to the Danish bank’s newest interim report. Loan impairment charges saw a “sig­nificant reduction” in the quarter against loan exposures to the industries of shipping, oil and gas, said the report, noting that high reversals were especially seen in the area of Norwegian shipping, oil and gas. Net reversals of DKK 48m in total in the quarter were described as a “very low level” of impairment charges for the bank, according to the report, though these industries remain a “focus area” considering that the shipping market has had a “slower pickup” than was expected. Danske Bank’s Stage 1 gross exposure to shipping, oil and gas was at DKK 41.6m in the quarter, down from DKK 43.9m in Q4-2018.

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Dry Bulk Commodity Update (May 2, 2019)

wheat fieldRecent rainfall in Western Europe has boosted output forecasts for the EU wheat crop, though analysts warn that more rain will be required to avoid potential crop damage from drought. Fore­casters remain positive for EU wheat as increased sowings and more favourable weather conditions this year (including a mild winter) suggest that output could return to normal after last year’s drought-afflicted harvest. The official forecast for EU common wheat production in the 2019-20 season was raised to 141.3 Mt this week, putting it a full 10% above last year’s output.

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Cape rates jump to six-month highs (but storm clouds loom)

capesize vesselCapesize freights rose by as much as 38% last week, according to some metrics, with the recover in senti­ment buoyed by the reopening of Vale’s Brucutu iron ore mine in Brazil and very strong voyage acti­vity in the Pacific. With over 80% of bulk carrier trade said to be linked to iron ore (also, according to some metrics), the oversized influence of this com­modity on the bulker trades can scarcely be underestimated. Rates have continued to climb as business resumed this week after the weekend, usually a sign of a bullish market, with TARV rates moving into the US$ 9,000s and Pacific round voyages climbing into the low teens of US$ 10-11,000 daily. Front hauls have already been fixing low US$ 20,000s of up to US$ 22,000 daily, according to some brokers’ reports, with shipowners having regained the con­trol in negotiations for the first time in many weeks. These higher levels are nonetheless precarious, traders warn, as sentiment-driven as the Cape market is, another snap in geopolitical events could send rates tumbling as fast as they climbed in the final week of April. Owners hope that market fundamentals will solidify (as open tonnage tightens up) to keep this from happening.

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Handy Bulk Market Update (24 April 2019)

Handymax bulker dwtAfter Easter break, one can’t but conclude that still not much is going on. The market in general remains pretty disappointing without any immediate ray of hope. Even though some brokers report a flurry of activi­ty, others keep talking of a market trudging along. Indeed, the numbers talked and reported indeed suggest the latter. Off the Continent, Ultramaxes are being fixed in the low US$ 8,000s for a short local employment. The owners of a 56,000 dwt vessel have been seeing US$ 9,000 daily from scrap charterers for a trip to the East Med. Handy rates have been equally disenchanting with a 38,000 dwt booked for a Baltic round voyage with delivery Rotterdam at a rate of US$ 6,500 daily. The Black Sea remains a “graveyard” for the owners. Ultra-Supramax owners prefer to ballast away instead of taking front hauls of US$ 11-12,000 daily.

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Short Sea: Mediterranean Market Overview (16 April 2019)

mediterraneanAdriatic Sea market: Traffic has been sporadic at best. Ammonium nitrate of 1,000mt has secured US$ 39-40/mt from Alexandria to Sarande (Alban­ia). Steels of 1-2,000mt have fixed high US$ 30s/mt of up to US$ 37-38/mt ex-Nemrut to Split, brokers say. Standard grains of 5,000mt (46′) are being done from Yeisk into the Italian Adriatic at US$ 35/mt.

Turkish Med: As usual, import shipments to the Turkish Med have been considerable and trade has been steady in Q2 thus far. Fertilizers (urea) of 5-6,000mt have been routinely securing upwards of US$ 15/mt into Antalya from Damietta (and else­where in Egypt). Grains of 5,000mt (46′) ex-Novo­rossiysk to Mersin are being fixed at US$ 23-24/mt. Steels (2,000mt) from Iskenderun to Constanta have been reportedly concluded at about US$ 26-27/mt.

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BMTI Investment Review (12 April 2019)

euro financeOperator Western Bulk Chartering announced that it has secured new debt financing and intends to raise US$ 15m in equity, ensured by its two main shareholders, in order to “support further growth” and strengthen its financial platform, said CEO Jens Ismar. The bond of US$ 35.1m (and US$ 31.74 outstanding) will be repaid in full, according to a statement from the company. WBC made an after-tax profit of US$ 4.2m last year, but suffered a big write-off in the second half of the year (US$ 10m) due to ill-timed time charter contracts signed by its Chile office. This year so far has also proven rather challenging for dry bulk markets, necessitating fresh financial support before the expected market recovery in the second half of 2019 in which the firm will “utilize the current market volatility” to its advantage, Ismar says.

Intended to provide so-called alternative financing for new shipping projects, General Credit Corp has been in development by Peter Georgiopoulos. The shipping magnate is reportedly working with at least two other executives in the publicly-listed shipping sphere, believed to be ex-Gener8 CFO Leo Vrondissis and ex-Gener8 VP of Finance George Fikaris. The fund is being developed in the growing realm of alternative finance, lending to shipowners (at higher margins) who can’t access funding from traditional ship lenders. Traditional maritime funding has become increasingly tight after the financial crisis and the collapse of generous shipping credit pre-2008. It remains unclear when the fund will be launched.

German bank NordLB, which recently announced its intention to completely withdraw from shipping, reported this week that it had sold off one portfolio of non-performing loans (NPLs) in shipping (nicknamed “Big Ben”) for a total of EUR 2.6 billion to US hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. The portfolio, holding loans for 263 vessels, is categorized as 90% non-performing and will lower the bank’s total NPL shipping loans to EUR 4.9 billion from a previous level of EUR 7.5 billion at the end of last year.

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BMTI Dry Bulk Viewpoint (10 April 2019)

Again averting disaster at the last minute, Capesize freights pull back from oblivion to post even better upgrades than the start of the week, thanks to a return in chartering interest, moving trans-Atlantic RV rates well into the US$ 5,000s and front hauls to within range of US$ 19,000 daily. Actual time charter fixtures are still forthcoming, one hopes, but the fact that freight improvements are building steam rather than losing it suggests that this undervalued market is overdue some upward corrections. Pacific RVs hover in the US$ 4,000s, so they would have a ways to go to regain profitability, but given current trends, that remains plausible before month’s end. Now the Panamaxes find themselves a bit worse for wear than they were just a week ago with daily losses starting to pick up heft and charterers developing an allergy to getting involved in a market that seems to be swinging back into their favour. Activity has been sparse this week thus far and Atlantic business has slowed to a trickle on ECSA delivery with only a handful of rounds from the Pacific and back fetching around US$ 11,000 daily DOP on modern tonnage. Hanging on for dear life, Supramax owners are resisting a downturn in sentiment that is appearing to be increasingly inevitable as cargoes stay stubbornly slow. Period chartering is seen in stops and starts with short period deals on Tess 58s having done US$ 11,500 on Far East delivery with worldwide redel. NoPac RVs manage to stay in the high US$ 7,000s, but limited interest on Singapore-Japan redel could spell a sharper downturn as the week goes on. Black Sea front hauls are flat in the US$ 12,000s.

Dry Bulk Commodity News (4 April 2019)

aluminiumThe world’s second-largest non-Chinese aluminium producer, Rusal, began new production operations last week at its Boguchansk aluminium smelt­er in Siberia. This added output essentially doubles the plant’s capacity to 298,000mt tonnes; the company is even considering adding more capacity, already, according to CEO Evgenii Nikitin. Rusal has been busy resuming output and shipments since the end of last year when sanctions imposed by the United States were lifted after nine months of negotiations that ended in founder Oleg Deripaska giving up his control of the company. While the company lost contracts in the sanctions period, it says it is busy winning supply contracts back for 2020 and expects to “restore lost positions” in its traditional markets, particularly in Asia and America. Shipments in Europe seem to have been less dis­turbed, but the new output activity and lifting of sanctions are likely to see increased aluminium shipments along European waterways as well. Rusal is also busy building a new smelter in Taishet set to launch late next year. The company expects world­wide aluminium demand to grow 3.7% this year to 68 Mt and keep growing at the same rate in 2020.

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Pacific Panamaxes Appear to Have Peaked (27 Mar 2019)

panamax at duskRate recovery is still elusive for the nonperforming Capesize sector. A severe lack of demand having its way with spot freights. All things considered, they could be plummeting more sharply than they are given the wide range of tonnage cur­rently available to charterers. But it would seem that more owners are just refusing to go any farther be­low breakeven, which has long since been passed. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a Capesize owner having se­cured any profit so far this year, such is the miserable base level for earnings at the moment. Pacific-based voyages have nonetheless stabilized for the most part with Brazil/China voyages holding firm in the range of US$ 11.6-11.7/mt. That kind of stability counts for something, and shouldn’t be underesti­mated, owners are advised to remind themselves. Everything is coming up Panamaxes, one could say, with only a shiver of trouble appearing in the eastern basin as Pacific round voyages seem to have peaked at US$ 8,000 daily. Indeed, most new RVs for next week are said to be trading in the high US$ 7,000s. This uggests that owners may once again find themselves struggling to keep rates in place. Atlantic Panamax owners, on the other hand, remain well-placed for the ongoing South American surge as tighter avails mean TARVs can move into the middle US$ 8,000s. Trouble in paradise for the eastern Supramaxes as charterers put on the brakes before the weekend. Rate gains have come to a halt in the eastern basin. Pacific RVs are still hov­ering at around US$ 9,000 for 58,000 dwt tonnage, but we do hear that charterers have been moving their ideas downward for early April positions. Western trends remain on the bullish side, at any rate, as USG delivery is still giving owners good reason to pursue higher-than-last rate levels. Front hauls ex-USG are still rising, albeit more slowly, with US$ 19,000s re­ported by some for CJK redel even as US$ 18,000s are the new standard area for eastbound Ultramaxes.

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Capesize Recovery Fizzles Out (19 Mar 2019)

capesize bulk carrierOff like a light, the Capesize rebound of last week seems to have hit a wall at the start of this week with a very strong reversal of negative US$ 800-900 (or thereabouts) on the trans-Pacific RV taking those rates back into the low US$ 7,000s daily range. Few new fixtures have emerged so far this week, though that could still change by midweek, owners say. On the other hand, if the activity that helped buoy the spot markets last week doesn’t reappear quickly, there is a very good possibility that new downward corrections will start coming fast and furious. Voyage rates have remained stable so far with Brazil/ China unchanged in the area of US$ 11.9-12.0/mt. There does seem to be plenty of energy left in the Panamax markets with the positive momentum of last week pushing into this week and keeping trends bullish. TARVs look to be the most improved even as US$ 5-6,000s rates are still poor for any owners hoping to make a profit in this challenging market. Slightly more promising are front hauls, which are benefitting from a modest renaissance from South America as DOP rates ex-Brazil (open UKC-Med) are granting Kamsarmax ships upwards of US$ 16,000. Apart from the collapsing Black Sea front hauls (in a replay of the same on USG front hauls two weeks ago), Handy bulk rates remain rather steady in the Atlantic and even bullish on South America delivery. ECSA export trips are currently keeping the entire western market aloft, it would seem, with front hauls getting upwards of US$ 13,000 daily DOP to the Far East on tonnage of 58,000 dwt and even US$ 14,000 daily on Ultramax vessels exceeding 62,000 dwt. The USG/UKC trans-Atlantic trips are holding steady in the US$ 10-11,000 range on Tess 58s.

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Analysts: Handysizes Best Investment in Bulkers (15 Mar 2019)

Handysize bulkerScorpio Bulkers [SALT] sold seven ships to China Merchant Bank Financial Leasing in a sale-and-lease­back deal wherein the owner will lease the ships back from the partially state-owned bank. Scorpio says it will add US$ 60m in liquidity from the deal.

The New York-listed dry bulk company, Eagle Bulk [EGLE], was pleased to announce in its new annual report to having secured a profit in 2018, offsetting a deficit in the year before. Last year saw revenue rise by 31% thanks to gains in the dry bulk market as a whole and a rise in available ship days for its vessels (the company purchased 12 Ultramax carriers in the last two years). Company CEO Gary Vogel says Eagle Bulk plans to continue executing its fleet renewal plan. A refinancing plan in 2018 also gave the com­pany some US$ 65m in new liquidity, which helped it lower debt costs and extended maturation dates for existing loans. Revenue grew US$ 73.3m to US$ 310.1m in 2018, contributing to a new profit of US$ 12.6m in the year versus a deficit of US$ 43.8m the year before. For the first quarter of 2019, the com­pany has already secured 90% of its ship days for its fleet at an average TCE of US$ 9,124 daily. Ahead of the 2020 sulphur regulations, Eagle Bulk says it will already have 37 of its ships fitted with scrubbers. The company fleet currently consists of 47 dry bulk carriers made up of Supramax and Ultramax ships.

Investment opportunities have thinned out for the bulk carriers in the year so far with freight rates un­der pressure, but near term prospects are still well-balanced between cargo and tonnage, according to Court Smith of VesselsValue at the recent German Ship Finance Forum in Hamburg. There is, however, a negative mismatch between expected tonne-mile growth and tonnage growth for nearly every bulker size, with the exception of one, Smith said. In terms of tonne-mile growth vs. supply growth in 2019, Smith expected to see -0.9% for Capesizes, -0.7% for Panamaxes, -0.9% for Supramaxes but + 0.4% for Handysize vessels. Given the overall “positive bal­ance” in the Handysize sector, Smith recommends the smallest bulker size class as the best “top level” investment perspective for the current market.

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