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Shipping: Investment Opportunities in Second Hand Tonnage Could be Diminishing

The window of investment opportunity in second hand tonnage could soon be closing. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal noted that “in a downward moving market, softer SnP activity is usually a given, as the gap between Sellers’ and Buyers’ ideas widens, especially when the drop in rates takes place in a relatively short period of times, which was the case recently. Aside from the levels of the market and the respective number of deals as this is depicted in the table below, what might be even more interesting to look at is whether in these cases asset prices also moved in tandem with SnP activity and to what degree”.

According to Mr. Nassos Soulakis, SnP broker with Intermodal, “in the case of the 28kdwt Japanese Handy, the number of sales during the first two months of 2017 was more than double compared to the same period this year. Two years ago a 2006 built vessel was valued at high USD 5 million, while the same amount of money will today get you a 2004 built vessel –four years older – even though the BHSI is around the same levels”.

“As far as Supramax SnP ytd activity is concerned, this is decreased around 30% compared to 2017, while prices are today at relatively higher levels. Indeed, a 57k dwt 2011 Chinese built vessel was valued at around mid- USD 9 million back then, while a 57k dwt 2011 Chinese built Supra was fixed today for high- USD 9 million. The fact that a very bad year preceded Q1 2017 certainly allowed for more deals back then, with buyers being hungry for tonnage, after the market had finally started to move up, and Sellers being “exhausted” following many challenging months and ready to accept lower levels. In trying to offer an explanation for the price resistance one could say that Buyers could be already cashing in an extended recovery in rates (after all earnings have already been improving for all other sizes but Capes), which renders them more aggressive in securing tonnage in a market that had already seen a number of candidates being withdrawn”, Soulakis said.

Intermodal’s analyst added that “so the anxiety that this could be a window of opportunity to invest that could be soon closing as the market recovers plays a significant role in supporting asset prices. Many are indeed expecting that prices will not adjust accordingly to today’s rates and that positive freight performance from a point onwards will eventually result in even higher prices, which in retrospect will render todays levels as the window of opportunity. So maybe it is time to redefine what “window of opportunity” means and whether this is a short term correction in prices compared to the very recent past or a longer period during which asset prices align with earnings”, he concluded.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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