Pacific Basin sails into black on dry bulk turnaround

Shipping firm sees stronger returns this year on recovery in freight rates and more vessels

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 1:10am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 February, 2014, 5:11am

Pacific Basin Shipping, the largest operator of Handysize vessels, posted a turnaround in 2013 due to lower impairment losses on its vessels, and management says a cyclical upswing in the volatile dry bulk market should see stronger returns this year.

The company posted a net profit of US$1.5 million last year, reversing the US$158 million in losses it ran up in the previous year. Sales reached US$1.7 billion. Earnings per share were 0.6 HK cents while a dividend per share of five HK cents was declared. The company's shares were up 0.21 cents or 4.05 per cent to close yesterday at HK$5.40.

Nearly two-thirds of the cargoes handled by Pacific's Handysize vessels are agricultural products such as grain and sugar, the company said on its website. It also delivers construction materials like logs and forest products. Handysize ships can berth at smaller ports and have cranes onboard to unload cargo by themselves. Coal and iron ore accounted for between 5 per cent and 7 per cent of cargoes carried.

Pacific's results were boosted by a recovery in freight rates. The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) sank to 745 points in the first half of 2013, the lowest level since 1986, before recovering to reach 2,337 points in the second half of the year.

Daily earnings for Pacific's Handysize ships stood at US$9,520 per day last year, 22 per cent above the market average.

The company has covered 53 per cent of its contracted Handysize revenue days for this year at US$10,090, up 6 per cent from last year's average. Dry bulk net profit fell 34 per cent in the year to US$26.1 million.

Pacific management predicted that lower commodity prices compared with domestic production will shore up the import of mining products into China this year.

Analysts said the company expanded aggressively by acquiring 43 vessels last year, which could boost results this year.