China Shipping Container Lines

Shipping firms take beating on HKEx

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 May, 2012, 12:00am

Shipping stocks nosedived yesterday amid renewed investor concern about the state of the shipping market, fuelled by doubts about the recovery in Europe.

Jon Windham, the Asian maritime analyst at Barclays in Hong Kong, said it was a 'pretty ugly day across the board'.

Jinhui Holdings saw its stock slump 10 per cent after it warned revenue and net profit for the first quarter were expected to be 'significantly worse' than last year. The counter later recovered to close 4 per cent down at HK$1.44.

The firm derives most of its revenue from Jinhui Shipping and Transportation, in which it owns a 54.77 per cent stake. Chairman Ng Siu-fai said Jinhui Shipping had had to 'enter into some loss-making charter contracts in early 2012' as the volume of new tonnage being delivered outpaced cargo demand and depressed freight rates.

Rival shipping lines also took a battering. Shares in China Shipping Container Lines crashed more than 9 per cent to HK$2.18 before edging up to close at HK$2.20. Orient Overseas (International), parent of Orient Overseas Container Line, dropped 5.5 per cent to finish at HK$46.85. China Cosco, Pacific Basin Shipping and SITC International also saw their share prices fall by more than 4 per cent, while China Shipping Development closed more than 3.9 per cent down at HK$4.65.

Windham said shipping stocks were hit because investors were 'concerned about the macro issues' affecting the market. These include the possible impact on trade and business confidence as Europe faces a fresh crisis from the growing possibility that Greece will leave the euro zone and the impact that would have on other economies, including Germany and Spain.

Claire Teng, an analyst with Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, said the drop in stocks 'was more related to Europe' rather than about individual shipping companies' performance. She said the poor results announced earlier by shipping firms for last year and the first quarter of this year had already been factored in by the market, and had nothing to do with yesterday's slump.

Winnie Guo, a transport analyst with China Construction Bank in Beijing, agreed investor concerns over Europe had fuelled the decline in shipping stocks. She said the purchasing manager's index in Europe was still declining and there were uncertainties about the outlook for the summer peak shipping period.

Asia-Europe spot-container freight rates have increased 252 per cent since the beginning of the year, according to the Shanghai Shipping Exchange. But Guo said there had been many container ship deliveries in the last two months and this extra capacity could hurt freight rates.