Market expectations for China to meaningfully reduce domestic iron ore production in favour of imports proved to be overly optimistic, CEO of shipping company Goldenport Holdings, John Dragnis, said, commenting on the third quarter results of the company.
Dry bulk freight rates during the third quarter of 2014 were weaker than those in the first half of the year, as demand lagged net fleet growth, Dragnis went on to say.
“Coal imports to China have been affected by adverse policies and the Indonesian nickel export ban remains in place. In this environment, Supramax rates were once again more resilient than Capesize and Panamax rates, reflecting their versatility and reduced earnings volatility, while containership rates remained broadly stable, but at levels close to all time lows,” he added.
During the quarter, the utilisation rate of Goldenport’s fleet reached 96%, while a small improvement in the time charter equivalent rate for the fleet was offset in dollar terms by a slight increase in average daily operating expenses.
“We have continued to employ our dry bulk fleet on a short term basis under 3-6 month time charter agreements and have recently extended the charters for several of our containerships for another 8-12 months. In line with our strategy to reduce our exposure to older containerships, we concluded the sale of the 2,452 TEU, 1998-built vessel “Thasos” to an unaffiliated third party and the vessel was delivered to the new owners on Dec. 1,2014,” Dragnis said.
Furthermore, the outlook for 2015 is uncertain, according to Dragnis, and the long-awaited recovery in the dry bulk sector may not materialize in the near term as the orderbook casts a shadow over subdued demand.
This is reflected in the Capesize and Supramax FFA for calendar year 2015 which are currently trading at $12,200 and $8,825 per day, respectively.
“We remain nevertheless optimistic about the dry bulk sector and believe that increased coal imports to India, long-haul Brazilian iron ore imports to China and South American grain exports could lead to a sustainable rally,” he pointed out.
The outlook for the containership sector hinges on geopolitical uncertainties receding and global economic growth picking up, but at the same time, tonnage providers are being squeezed by liner companies that have formed themselves into alliances focused on increasing profitability and efficiency.
During the third quarter of 2014, deliveries reached approximately 10.5 million DWT (139 vessels) while demolition levels were approximately 3.9 million DWT (70 vessels). As a result there was a net increase in the fleet of approximately 6.5 million DWT or 0.9% in terms of capacity and approximately 70 units in terms of number of vessels.
New orders showed a noticeable decrease from Q2 and reached around 78 units of 8.0 million DWT compared with 120 units of 10.5 million DWT.
The current orderbook stands at about 2,092 units representing about 20% of the world fleet in terms of number of vessels and about 23% in terms of carrying capacity.
During the nine-month period to Sept. 30, 2014, there have been 242 orders placed in the wider Handymax sector and the current orderbook of 820 units represents about 26% of the operating Handymax fleet.
With regard to containership demand, the report said that in the third quarter, the world containership fleet increased by approximately 2% in terms of the number of vessels to 5,110 units and 2.3% in terms of capacity to 18.0 million TEU. This is the result of larger vessels being introduced into the market and utilised by the liner companies, and smaller vessels reaching the end of their economic life being scrapped.
During the third quarter of 2014, about 39 new building contracts were signed, equivalent to about 287,000 TEU. This represents a 21% decrease from the first quarter and it is mainly attributed to the increase in the price of newbuildings.
The current orderbook stands at about 465 vessels of about 3.5 million TEU and this represents approximately 20% of the world fleet in terms of capacity. The vast majority of the investment in the container segment is focused in the asset class of over 8,000 TEU, which represents about 82% of the current orderbook in terms of capacity.
“From a chartering point of view, there has not been any significant movement in the freight market. Despite the ongoing cascading effect, whereby larger vessels substitute smaller ones, and the delivery of more “eco” vessels throughout the quarter, the majority of standard feeder vessels continue to find employment albeit at historically low rates,”the company said regarding the market outlook.