GREECE : Shipping is enjoying “easily” its best markets since the boom of 2007 according to Greek shipowner Harry Vafias.
If you exclude VLCCs, which are currently loss making and are the exception, everything else containers, LNG, LPG, crude oil and product tankers are all doing very, very well and prices for those ships are going up on a weekly basis,” Vafias told.
“So yes, I don’t think we’ve seen this kind of market in 15 years so it was a long time coming.”
Vafias controls a diversified fleet under four different companies – US-listed Stealth Gas, the gas shipping arm; tankers under Stealth Maritime; dry bulk under Brave Maritime; and the newly US-listed tanker company Imperial Petroleum
Whether it’s a good time a good time to sell given high vessel prices it depends on the particular circumstances of an owner and levels of debt. “For us now we are not selling because we do believe the good markets will stay for a bit and the profit we could make by selling we can make it by trading. On the other hand we were always very conservative on debt levels so as a group we have debt below 30% so we don’t need to sell to please the banks,” he explained.
“For a smaller, family-owned company with higher debt levels I would say you should sell a couple of ships and put some money on the side for the downcycle when it comes.”
A star performer has been smaller, handysize dry bulk carriers. “The handies have had a phenomenal last 12 months because of the booming container market and rates a lot of breakbulk commodities are now being in handies and which have one of the smallest orderbooks than any other shipping sub-sector,” Vafias explained.
Dry handies have been the best performers both in value appreciation and in charter income, for us the handies are the best moneymakers.”