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Dry Bulk: Fewer Ships Are Being Traded, But Market Could Pick Up Sooner Rather Than Later

Dry bulk ship owners have cut their investment in secondhand ships by 50% since the start of the year

In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “once again shipping is about to venture into uncharted waters and before the challenges of the past decade are forgotten, shipowners will have to overcome new ones quickly and effectively not only to continue servicing their clients but also in order to move forward. While it is still uncertain if we are still in the Covid-19 era or in the post Covid-19 era, just like in every previous crisis there will be opportunities to be exploited”.

According to Intermodal’s SnP broker, Mr. Timos Papadimitriou, “between mid-March and the end of April most countries where either in lock down or had just started coming out of it. As we all know the lockdowns around the globe affected the pace of the different supply chains, which effectively led to reduced volumes of transported cargo. Now that most restrictive measures have started to ease, trade volumes are expected to start picking up and if we also take into account the fact that billions in stimulus packages have been announced by the largest economies, there is a lot of speculation – and great anticipation- that the market will rebound at some point during the remainder of the year”.

He added that “some even believe that the momentum will be strong enough to eventually help overcome the challenges that the shipping market was facing prior to the Covid-19 crisis. Additionally, the fact that the presidential US elections are taking place in November means that the uncertainty that was already increasing prior to the lockdowns will eventually have to abate before the end of 2020. It goes without saying that the effect of any government money poured into any economy will take time until it is truly felt but in terms of boosting sentiment it will help even at earlier stages and before the market starts to move up decisively”.

Source: Intermodal

“That being said, shipowners should keep a close eye on asset values now and before the market takes off. Volatile times are not for the faint hearted but the reality is that that it is more conservative to invest during a bottoming market instead of buying a vessel when prices have already appreciated, not only because tonnage is priced more realistically but also because the downside in the first instance is much smaller. Dry bulk asset values have been dropping for the last four months with limited SnP activity during the global quarantine period between mid-March and the end of April when a total of 25 transactions have been reported, exactly half of those that took place during the same period in 2019.

Source: Intermodal

Theory differs from practice many times of course and one could argue that a “wait and see strategy” is a safer investing approach. One can wait as long as she or he desires but there are two facts that nobody can deny; asset prices are low and more cargo will sooner or later start to move. So if you were looking to invest it seems that the timing might be just about right.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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