Pacific Basin adopts neutral outlook after strong first half

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 August, 2010, 12:00am

Pacific Basin Shipping has adopted a neutral outlook for the dry bulk shipping market for the rest of the year based on a projected rebound in Chinese commodity imports in the fourth quarter following a relatively weak third quarter.

The company enjoyed a strong first half, posting revenue of US$616.5 million, up from US$425.9 million in the period a year earlier.

Chairman David Turnbull said the company made an underlying net profit of US$65.6 million in the first half, up 16 per cent year on year.

But overall net profit dropped 31 per cent to US$51.9 million, from US$74.8 million previously. This came after the company recorded a US$14 million non-cash derivative expense, which included a US$13 million expense on hedged bunker fuel contracts.

'We did not enjoy the same benefits as last year,' Turnbull said.

These included US$15 million in derivative income and write-backs.

Overall, the firm's fleet of handysize and handymax ships, that vary in size from about 28,000 to 55,000 deadweight tonnes, generated a net profit of US$78.5 million, compared with US$64 million in the same period last year.

The firm, which focuses on shipping smaller bulk commodities such as logs and grains, continued to expand its fleet by buying nine ships and chartering five vessels from other owners in the first half.

Chief executive Klaus Nyborg said the company spent about US$140 million to acquire the dry bulk ships, which took its fleet to 171 vessels including 17 on order.

Overall, the company spent US$187 million on capital expenditure, which included payments for vessels already ordered.

Nyborg said the company was financially strong with US$970 million in cash to help finance future fleet expansion.

But he added that the company's PB Energy & Infrastructure Services, businesses which include harbour towage in several Australian ports and a tugs and barges operation in the Middle East, generated a 'less than satisfactory' US$4 million in net profit.

Nyborg said there was a 'poor result from towage' because fewer visits by container ships at Australian ports meant there was less need for towage services.

'But it was not all bad news though' after the company started towage services at Townsville and was granted long-term exclusive licences at three bulk cargo ports, he added.

Executive director Wang Chunlin said the firm's port operation at Nanjing, Jiangsu province, was expected to break even this year. He said it was forecast to handle about three million tonnes of general cargo this year.