HARROW: The dry bulk shipping sector seems to have been encased in a never ending demise scenario, unable to exit from. With rates constantly on backwards mode, it’s only inevitable that ship prices will follow suit and according to shipbroker Intermodal, it appears that they’ve done exactly that. According to the shipbroker’s latest weekly report, “the sale of the M/V Churchill Bulker (179,362 dwt, blt ‘11 HHI) to Diana for approximately $28.4m, brought us face to face with the harsh reality once again; values are down by at least 20% since mid-August”. That’s a huge fall by anyone’s standards, especially given the very small window of time during which it has occurred.
According to Intermodal’s SnP Broker, Mr. George Dermatis, “what I found extremely interesting is a new rhetoric which is being created by seasoned professionals that, 7 years after the Lehman collapse, this is the first time we are experiencing a proper shipping crisis. Now that the dust from the financial crisis has settled, capital markets are showing resistance to worldwide political turbulence and financial institutions are nearing the end of their challenge named Basel III, our industry has no alibi in still blaming China or other developing economies for not continuing to outperform expectations. The pundits that still maintain their memories from the 80’s fresh are having a strong “Deja-vu” driven by an enormous order book. Low scrapping activity in 2H 2015 -when compared to current freight rates and pending regulatory reforms further underlines the issue”, Dermatis noted.
He added that “this is all known and extensively documented. Too much ink has been wasted in analyzing, if not dramatizing, the market situation across all sizes. Things are bleak but repeating it doesn’t help solve the problem. There must be a reaction trigger point and when it comes to asset values, that point should be connected to the replacement cost compare to the value of an existing asset; i.e. the moment that buying a modern vessel is a no-brainer because building a new one is uneconomical in every which way you look at it…”
According to the broker, “the same players recalled that during the bleakest of times, one could purchase a 5yr old vessel for 35-40% of its NB price. No matter how shocking that statement sounds, reading through the new format of our research team’s monthly report, one can easily realize we are not far off that reaction point. As Tier III regulations are applied on every contract being negotiated henceforth, we expect to see at least a 6 month period where even the keenest buyers will follow a “wait and see” tactic towards the new technologies, engines, etc. and NB cost will increase by almost 10% which will shift the curve to levels witnessed almost 30 years ago . What happened back then? Well, last time we saw such a discrepancy in NB costs compare to 5yr old values, there was significant disinvestment in NB’s over a prolonged period, which was further intensified by higher scrap volumes and the gradual implementation of a series of regulations, which raised the cost of maintenance and drove even more vessels out of the market.