Supramax and Panamax markets to suffer going forward on the back of heavy ordering activity - 23/07/2014

The recovery story of 2014 for the dry bulk market never arrived and won’t do so in the summer months at least, as the current fleet growth trend is providing no respite. According to the latest weekly report from shipbroker Intermodal, “it looks like the market decided once again to contradict everybody and show it’s unpredictable nature. Opinions for recovery in the second half of 2014 are now challenged and some are already extending their predictions for recovery to the final quarter. Once again we see demand for seabourne trade not being enough to maximize utilization of the current fleet. China’s economy, a decisive factor of dry bulk ship utilization, is slowing down and its iron ore and coal stockpiles remain high”.

On the other hand, according to SnP Broker, Mr. Theodore Ntalakos, “although suppressed, there are substantiated views that the market will turn and whilst the BPI is around September 2012 lows, we see buying interest in modern bulk carriers, from at least a handful of buyers, trying to take advantage of the depressed market. The asset prices are definitely correcting but sellers are not really prepared to meet buyers’ aiming levels just yet. Only if the market conditions remain where they are now will we see some sellers reconsider. A falling market nevertheless, always offers great opportunities and in fact some of the best buys are done during the summer sloth. On the supply side, over the past year, we have recorded a net growth of the fleet of about 370 vessels; this is a 4% increase which in my view is not what has killed the market. However, the rationalization of the orderbook did not last for too long. The orderbook has increased from about 1,400 vessels, representing 16% of the trading fleet, this time last year, to 1,734 vessels this year representing 20% of the dry fleet”.

According to Mr. Ntalakos, “over-ordering of ultramax size bulk carriers has been lengthily discussed and criticized, and it’s a fact that from 388 vessels in June 2013 we now have 682 on order which is a 76% increase! Although not all of them will be materialized, it will no doubt put a lot of pressure in the supramax and the panamax markets going forward. The silver-lining is that while it’s no more than two years since the panamax orderbook also stood at more than 650 vessels, the freight market still managed to improve in 2013 showing that solid demand can somewhat support a little extravagance in ordering”.

He added that “the panamax fleet has increased by a little more than 130 vessels or 7% following a record of deliveries in 2013. The orderbook of panamax up-to post-panamax size has actually declined from 382 vessels on order to 342 vessels (down from 650 two years ago). We feel that, once the first new generation vessels start trading showing their economic characteristics, the next shipbuilding orders will be in this size which lagged behind in the vessel ordering spree of 2013″.

Meanwhile, as per Intermodal’s analyst, “the Handysize fleet has grown by only 17 vessels the past year. The orderbook today represents a healthy 18% of the fleet, and has decreased since the beginning of 2014. There are many new and proven designs from 35,000 up to 43,000 tons deadweight offered by the builders these days and the sector has demonstrated a relative stability compared to the volatile bigger sizes. It remains attractive as a sector due to its low volatility but there is skepticism if the investment will ever provide lucrative returns. As a result of the orderbook and the market conditions, new building inquiries are limited. Buyers are waiting for the prices to follow the market and are currently only discussing with the very few shipyards that offer prices below the market. However, with most of the reputable shipbuilders offering their last 2016, or in some cases 2017 slots, there is no rush to follow the market; therefore, it will take some time for the prices to return to more attractive levels”, Ntalakos concluded.

in 18/07/2014