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Star Bulk Carriers Corp. (NASDAQ:SBLK)

Q4 2009 Earnings Call Transcript

February 24, 2010 9:30 am ET

Executives

Akis Tsirigakis – Chairman, President and CEO

George Syllantavos – CFO

Analysts

George Pickral – Stephens

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Star Bulk conference call on the fourth quarter and full year 2009 financial results. We have with us Mr. Akis Tsirigakis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and Mr. George Syllantavos, Chief Financial Officer of the company.

(Operator instructions) I must advise you that this conference is being recorded today, Wednesday, February 24, 2010. We will now pass the floor to one of our speakers today, Mr. Akis Tsirigakis. Please go ahead, sir.

Akis Tsirigakis

Thank you and good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the Star Bulk conference call. I am Akis Tsirigakis, the Chief Executive Officer of Star Bulk and with me today is George Syllantavos, our Chief Financial Officer.

Before we begin with our slide presentation, I kindly ask that you take a few moments to read our Safe Harbor statement on slide number two. I would like now to take this time and use this introduction to make several brief points. We continue to believe that we are one of the most undervalued companies in the dry bulk sector. Our company remains financially strong with modest leverage, ample liquidity and positive cash flows and we maintain excellent relationship with our lenders.

We were able to declare our quarterly dividend of $0.05 per share for the fourth quarter 2009. In 2009, we had undertaken a cost reduction effort which has produced tangible results in both G&A and operating expenses. Also in late 2009, we completed the process of taking in-house the technical management of our fleet. We expect in-house technical management to further reduce costs going forward, a trend evident in comparing operating expenses between third and fourth quarter 2009 already.

Here, I would also like to underline the one-of nature of increased voyage expenses reported. This is due to having to charter in a vessel at the high rate to save our COA or Contract of Affreightment, a need that was created out of the timing of the sale of the Star Alpha that was serving the Contract of Affreightment.

Let us now turn to slide number three, which provides an update of our company since our last conference call. On Monday as I am sure many of you have learned, we announced the acquisition of Capesize vessel built in 2000 in Japan for a price of 42.5 million, which is to be paid by a combination of company cash and senior debt. On Tuesday we also announced a dividend of $0.05 related to the fourth quarter of 2009. We are glad to be able to reward our shareholders with our quarterly dividend. We also recently announced that we sold one of our oldest vessel, the Capesize carrier Star Beta for a contracted sale price of 22 million. We look forward to concentrating on renewing and expanding our fleet.

Our general and administrative expenses were lower by 44% compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. Our operating expenses decreased a further 9% compared to the third quarter of 2009, and we are confident that our in-house technical management will be instrumental in implementing our quality objectives while further optimizing our operating costs. We have also repaid early our March principal debt repayment.

Now could you please turn to slide four for some selected financial data? In this slide we selected some key points to illustrate that we continue to believe our company enjoys a very comfortable financial position. Our market capitalization is currently 165 million as of market close on February 19, 2010. We estimate the charter-free value of our fleet is currently 310 million. Our senior debt currently stands at about 231 million, and our current cash position is approximately 65 million. Star Bulk also maintains a net debt to total assets ratio of 22%, which is considered low compared to most companies.

Going forward, the remaining principal repayment for 2010 is 43 million, for 2011 is 32 million, and roughly 25 million annually thereafter, while we have no other capital expenditure commitments such as new buildings. These factors underline Star Bulk’s solid financial position.

If you could please turn to slide five of our presentation to discuss our fourth quarter and yearend 2009 financial highlights. For the fourth quarter 2009, gross revenue was 31.2 million, the difference compared to same period in 2008 was mainly due to the decreased amortization of fair value of below/above market acquired time charters and lower charter rates for most of our vessels.

We report a net loss of 4.6 million, which includes non-cash items, such as a loss of 0.9 million, which relates to the reversal of unamortized fair value of an above market acquired time charter on a vessel due to an early delivery date, and net revenue of 0.3 million, representing amortization of fair value of below/above market acquired time charters.

Excluding these items, net income for the fourth quarter 2009, would have amounted to a loss of $3.8 million representing a loss of $0.6 per share basic and diluted of which $0.02 or $1.4 million represents loss on derivative instruments. Our first call consensus for the fourth quarter was a loss of $0.03 per share.

Adjusted EBITDA for the fourth quarter 2009 was $11 million while the average daily operating expenses were $6,318 per vessel. The time charter equivalence for the fourth quarter of 2009 was $23,012 per day.

For the year ended December 31, 2009 we achieved gross revenue of $142.4 million. Net loss for the 12-month period amounted to $58.4 million excluding non-cash items such as $75.2 million impairment loss in connection with the sale of the vessel Star Alpha. Amortization of fair value below and above market acquired time charters, and the amortization of stock based compensation, net income would have amounted to $13 million representing $0.21 per share basic and diluted or $15.1 million representing $0.25 per share basic and diluted, if derivative instruments are excluded.

Adjusted EBITDA for non-cash items was $80.4 million, while the average daily operating expenses were $6,888 per vessel. The time charter equivalent rate for the 12-month period was $29,450 per day. Our CFO, George Syllantavos, will of course discuss our financials in more detail later on in our presentation.

Now turning to slide six. This slide illustrates our fleet employment chart and counterparties which is also available on our website. I won’t go into further details as I believe it is self-explanatory. I would just like to reiterate that we agreed to sell the Star Beta in January 2010, which is expected to be delivered to its new owners in the second quarter of 2010 upon its re-delivery from the current time charter.

Also, we assigned the Star Epsilon to our Contract of Affreightment or COE with a Brazilian mining company VALE which effectively provide full-time employment for a Cape-sized vessel for two years. That contract gives us the option to service either by our own or by chartered-in vessels.

Moving to slide seven. This graph shows our contracted operating base as well as our revenue visibility. Our long-term coverage continues to provide us with stable and visible cash flows in this current volatile market. Daily volatility of the dry bulk index does not currently affect our revenue generation value very much. Our contracted coverage is now 92% for 2010, and 53% for 2011.

If you turn to slide eight, you will see graphically Star Bulk's high contract coverage, in fact one of the highest.

Please turn to the next slide, where Mr. Syllantavos, our CFO will discuss our financials. George?

George Syllantavos

Thank you, Akis. Good morning to everyone. Let us now move slide 10 for an overview of our balance sheet as of December 31, 2009. Our current assets were $60.8 million, while our fixed assets amounted to $668.7 million and total assets amounted to $760.6 million. Current liabilities were $71.1 million, non-current liabilities amounted to $190.3 million, and stockholders’ equity was at $499.3 million. Total liabilities and stockholders’ equity totaled $760.6 million.

We can now turn to slide 11, to discuss the fourth quarter 2009 income statement. The fourth quarter 2009 results include non-cash items amounting to $0.8 million, and adjusted figures is to exclude these non-cash items. For the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2009, total revenues amounted to $31.2 million and our operating loss amounted to $2.8 million.

The net loss for the fourth quarter '09 was $4.6 million, representing a $0.07 loss per share calculated on 61,049,760 weighted average number of shares basic and diluted. Excluding non-cash items, net income for the fourth quarter of 2009 amounts to a loss of $3.8 million or minus $0.06 per share calculated on 61,049,760 weighted average number of shares basic and diluted. I want to add that tighter cost controls contributed to decreased G&A per vessel by a substantial margin compared to the same period of last year.

Please turn to slide 12 now, to discuss our yearend December 31, 2009 numbers. For the 12 months in 2009, total revenues amounted to $142.4 million; operating loss was $49.3 million. The net loss for the 12 months 2009 was $58.4 million, representing a loss of $0.96 per share calculated on 60,873,421 weighted average number of shares, basic and diluted.

Excluding non-cash items, impairment loss of $75.2 million in connection with the sale of the vessel Star Alpha, net income of $5.7 million, representing amortization of fair value of below and above market acquired time charters, and expenses of $1.8 million relating to stock-based compensation, our net income for the 12 months 2009 was $13 million, representing $0.21 earnings per share calculated on the 60,873,421 weighted average number of shares, basic and diluted.

In closing I’d like to iterate something that Akis mention in the beginning. During the quarter we had almost $8 million of voyage expenses out of a total of $15 million for the whole year. This is mostly attributed to cost of chartering in a vessel to perform the fourth cargo shipment in the 2008 COA contract in order to allow the Star Alpha to meet the delivery dates to its new owners.

I would now like to pass the floor back to Akis for the continuation of the presentation.

Akis Tsirigakis

Thank you. I would like to make some market related comments now, particularly on supply and demand for dry bulk shipping. So, please if you would turn to slide 14 for a quick update on the supply of vessels and newbuilding deliveries.

According to recent statistics, only 60% of newbuilding orders with a scheduled delivery within 2009 were actually delivered. The remaining 40% were either delayed or cancelled. The breakdown of this delays and cancellations by segment is shown in the top right graph. This phenomenon is expected to worsen as leading broking houses like ICAP and Platou were recently quoted saying in lately that they expect delays and/or cancellations to reach 50% in 2010 and these include those vessels that were flow over for 2009.

Port congestions has risen again close to its historical highs effectively reducing the dry bulk trading fleet by about 38 million deadweight tons, a level comparable to the 62.6 [ph] million deadweight tons of total dry bulk deliveries in 2009. What is what pointing out is a recent unexpected trend with spot time charter rate, rifting and vessel values rising. We believe that this is indicative of the market optimism for the future of dry bulk shipping.

Let us now turn to slide 15 for a look at iron ore demand. As we have mentioned about three months ago on our third quarter earnings call, world iron ore trade has recorded – has reached record high levels again. On the top right graph you can see that while Chinese iron ore imports have remained fairly flat, import from the rest of the world have increased quite substantially. Current export iron ore price levels of around $120 per ton indicate that once again iron ore trade is constrained by supply and not that China demand has stopped growing.

On the contrary, as you can see on the two charts on the bottom of the slide, China’s domestic production has been rising slightly while iron ore stockpiles have dropped below the recent highs. In general, global iron ore demand seems to be very healthy and it is expected to continue to provide a substantial source of demand for dry bulk shipping.

In slide 16, I wish to comment on recently led trend, substantial Chinese coal imports. On the top right graph, you can see China’s monthly coal imports and their spectacular year-on-year growth which reached 400% for the last quarter of 2009. It is worth mentioning that coal imports for the whole year increased by more than 200% compared to 2008.

China has traditionally been a coal exporter in the Asian region, but has now turned into a major importer due to both increased competitiveness from other coal exporting countries combined with China’s growing demand for electricity and coal and its centralized effort to consolidate its coal mining sector.

As you can see in the bottom right graph, imported coal is often cheaper than domestic coal. That indicates a price sensitive behavior, which in turn implies large growth potential as China’s annual coal consumption is in the order of $3 billion. This is illustrated in the bottom left chart, where you can see Chinese apparent coking coal production versus net imports, which are only small fraction of the total consumption. Thermal coal consumption versus imports, which gets a similar graph, a potential where therefore is really substantial.

Turning to slide 17, illustrates the reason behind the dry bulk market strength. In a year when most countries were in the recession, both charts on this slide show the spectacular growth in Chinese dry bulk imports in 2009. Actually this number reached the unpredicted level of 60%. It exhibits most expectations. That was making it more impressive, is the fact that during 2009 most countries were significantly reducing dry bulk imports. Iron ore imports were 184 metric tons or 41% higher in 2009, and China’s dependence on imported iron ore is not likely to change. Since Chinese iron ore is of very low quality, making imported iron ore more competitive in terms of quality and price.

As we explained in the previous slide, coal imports have enormous growth potential due to the huge coal consumption of around 3 billion tons. However, what is most exciting about this potential is that in the event of an appreciation of the Chinese currency, imported iron ore, coal and all dry bulk commodities will become even more competitive than they already are.

Please turn to slide 19 for a conclusion of our presentation, and I would like to reiterate that we believe Star Bulk to be one of the most financially sound companies in the dry bulk sector. Further I wish to point that we have taken steps toward filtering new oil [ph] by agreeing to acquire a Capesize vessel. We have reinstated our quarterly dividend program; we have one of the lowest leverages of our peer group.

We are well positioned in this economic climate with a healthy cash balance of about 65 million. Our high contract coverage limits our exposure to the volatility we are seeing in the shipping market. We don’t have exposure to newbuildings. We have a healthy balance sheet and a low debt to total asset ratio. We’ll continue to have our shelf registration for up to 250 million in securities in place, although unused to present. All those factors translate to our company being financially healthy and well positioned going forward.

I will not take any more of your time. Thank you and I will now pass the floor over to the operator. If you have any questions, both myself and George will be happy to answer them.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your first question comes from George Pickral from Stephens, Inc. Please ask your question.

George Pickral – Stephens

Good afternoon, Akis and George.

George Syllantavos

Hi, George.

George Pickral – Stephens

Akis, let me ask the first question to you. You’ve sold the Alpha and you have sold the Beta, but you still got two more Capes that are relatively old. How are you thinking about those vessels going forward? And then you also mentioned being well capitalized and having the balance sheet to buy additional vessels, so should we think about additional vessels replacing these or do you think you could replace and add to our capsize fleet over the next 12 to 24 months?

Akis Tsirigakis

Understood, George, hi, I would like to say that while we have agreed to sell also the Beta, we have only replaced the Alpha so far or agreed to replace the Alpha. We are not currently thinking of disposing the two vessels, the Epsilon and the Star Sigma. However, yes, we are looking to replace the Beta and expand the fleet as well.

George Pickral – Stephens

Okay. And then Akis, you also briefly mentioned in your opening remarks the impact of voyage expenses from the COA. Can you tell me exactly how much that was in the quarter? And then, a follow-up to that, will there be any negative impact in Q1?

Akis Tsirigakis

That was to the tune of $6 million in the fourth quarter 2009.

George Pickral – Stephens

Okay.

Akis Tsirigakis

Yes.

George Pickral – Stephens

So taking that out, we are at about 1.8 of voyage expenses, is that a good run rate to use going forward, and then also is there going to be any impact to Q1?

George Syllantavos

There is going to be about $1 million impact on Q1 from that same exercise, George.

George Pickral – Stephens

Okay.

George Syllantavos

And, but the point is that as I mentioned in my note, out of the total of $15 million, the $8 million for the year, the $8 million were part of just of Q4 and almost six out of those 8 are related to those – beginning to that vessel having to be chartered in order to meet the delivery dates of the Alpha. Therefore, the $2.5 million level for the quarter on voyage expenses is a reasonable number excluding the one-time –this one-time item. Okay?

George Pickral – Stephens

Okay. Thank you, George. And then one more quick question for you on the vessel operating expenses down about $0.5 million sequentially for Q3 to Q4, should we expect a similar decline in Q1 when you have the full implementation of taking the management in-house? I guess the question is how should we – can you give any guidance or color on how we should think about the quarterly run-rate for vessel operating expenses in 2010?

George Syllantavos

I would not like to provide a number. We are expecting that we will further reducing because we are taking steps towards that thing, but don’t call me down to a number, George.

George Pickral – Stephens

Okay. Fair enough. Thanks for the guidance [ph].

Operator

Your next question comes from Natasha Boyden from Cantor Fitzgerald. Please ask your question.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Thank you, operator. Good morning, Akis and George. How are you?

Akis Tsirigakis

Hi, Natasha. How are you?

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Good. Thank you. I think, George covered most of questions, but I was curious as to whether or not you have had any further counterparty issues with any of your charters, particularly on the vessels like the Zeta, Omicron, Cosmo and Gamma, which have some – still have some very attractive charges attached to them?

Akis Tsirigakis

Not at all. None whatsoever.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Okay. And any that you have had in the past, can you please update on those on arbitration or anything?

Akis Tsirigakis

We have – to tell you truth some positive development. I am not really at liberty to discuss them but we do have some positive developments on several of the claims.

George Syllantavos

As you understand these procedures are confidential, Natasha, apologies that we can't say anything more. We are just happy on how these cases are progressing, and I guess that's what we can say at this juncture.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Okay. Now I understand. Thank you. I appreciate that. Just looking at your fleet on the charter strategy, it looks like you have the Theta coming out for new – just really wanted to see what kind of talks you are fielding, what kind of rates you might be looking at, any kind of insight would be helpful.

Akis Tsirigakis

Renewal at this environment one could be looking at $17,000 range, $16,000 to $17,000 range.

George Syllantavos

For a – but together in about a two year plus. But Natasha, listen, I mean, this is at a relatively lower rate to where the market is right now, and so it will be attracted and would be a substantial improvement and –

Akis Tsirigakis

I wanted to point out that this vessel because it is – it has a period, an optional period, it will likely not be delivered the earliest time that the charter parties allows. In May it is more likely to run into July, that is the one comment that I want to make.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Is that because of a – it's relatively low on it so the charter is going to keep a hold of it?

Akis Tsirigakis

Fair, that is the exact point. And then we have some time to actually charter her forward, it will depend if we chose to take a longer or a shorter period. It could be in the $20,000 per day, depending on the period that we chose to charter. I would say 17 to 20.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Okay. So that either way we can pretty much look at hopefully a higher rate than it's already trading at?

Akis Tsirigakis

That is a definite yes.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Okay, that’s helpful. And then just lastly, this is just a line item question but, the derivative that you had, the $1.35 million loss you had there, what was that associated with, was that an interest rate related on FFA?

Akis Tsirigakis

No, it's – as you understand – as we have always said, we use FFAs to cover for the open days of the foreign cape days that we have one year forward. That’s always been the strategy. Now, at the end of the year, we had not sold the Star Beta yet, therefore, the Star Beta was looking at an opening of about a few months, nine months in 2010. Therefore, we had 240 cape days, right, at an average rate of about 27.750. Now, as you understand, if you look how the FFA is traded at the last five, six days of the year, their rate ended above 53,000 at the end of the year.

Therefore, for those five, six last days of the year we recorded a mark-to-market loss of 240 days times about $5,000, which comes to about $1.2 million to $1.3 million. Post January 6 or 7, if you look at the chart their rates started coming down again in the FFAs, so we started gaining backend- up the value. But fortunately on Norden you see we have to make a cut-off at December 31. So, at the December 31 cut-off this is the type of mark-to-market type of situation where we’re looking at for those days.

Now, it seems we entered into January and we made an agreement to shelve the Beta, we don’t have as many days. So, in the mean time we have traded out improving our position here. We have traded out of half of the days and now we only have 120 days in 2010, and I am making this is the only explanations so – so everybody can understand how we use that instrument for hedging and how the specific cut-off in the financials at the end of every quarter makes us take a value on that specific snapshot of the value of that specific junction.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

And this was a cash offer, is that correct?

George Syllantavos

No it’s a non-cash item.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Non-cash?

George Syllantavos

It’s a mark-to-market thing. So that 1.3 million is just a value of the derivative at the end of the year. As I said since then we have been improving that because the rates have moved in the right direction and we have traded out of half of that position. So it continues –

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Okay.

George Syllantavos

But it's a non-cash item.

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

It's a non-cash item. Okay, well that’s very helpful. Thank you very much.

George Syllantavos

Thank you, Natasha.

Akis Tsirigakis

Thank you.

Operator

Your next question comes from Rob MacKenzie from FBR Capital Markets. Please ask your question.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Good afternoon, guys.

George Syllantavos

Hi, Bob. How are you?

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Good. Actually I want to follow-up on Natasha’s question a bit. So, since you’ve sold out half of the effective FFA days, you know, this quarter will kind of gain, I guess, in terms of cash – even a cash gain potentially we’ll be looking at 1Q at this point?

George Syllantavos

Listen, we will take again the snapshot at March 31 and will – the position will be improved. I understand that there is much interest in this thing in this quarter. There wasn’t so much interest in the previous quarter where we gained 3 million, but this is something we do to hedge our forward K position and I think we do it very well, and it just so happened that at the end of the quarter we have this valuation decreased, but it will get improved but I wouldn’t like to give a guidance right now, Robert since the rest of the positions are still trading and we will still be trading till the end of the quarter.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

So, I guess my question, I should have placed it better, that if you sold out half of the position, what would the cost basis be in the remainder of the position?

Akis Tsirigakis

If, not in case, obviously would be half. But of course since the market is moving we can not predict how it will go, it may move in our favor or the opposite. And that could be – if that’s not so will be taken on March 31, of course.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Got you.

Akis Tsirigakis

But the exposure is much less and in fact if it was the same like last quarter the effect would be half of it.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Okay. Thank you. That’s great. On the Aurora, how are you all thinking about contracting that when it's delivered?

Akis Tsirigakis

We will probably try to contract her before she is delivered, contract her forward. That is interesting period charter presently. So we'll be moving in that direction soon.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Strategically, are you guys – are you bearish enough on the dry bulk market that you would look to in terming out for a multi-year period or based on your comments earlier, it seems like you’re in the bullish camp and might want to keep it short-term. How are you thinking on the duration and how you might contract that?

Akis Tsirigakis

It will be a time charter but a shorter one. It will not be like, we will not keep her in a spot, it will on time charter, but maximum three years I would say or less rather than the longer time charter.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Okay, great. Now, also in terms of replacing the Beta and growing the fleet, how would you characterize what you're seeing today in the S&P market, obviously where others like Diana out there looking to buy assets. Can you give us an update on how you see or what you view as the changes in the S&P market over the past month or so?

Akis Tsirigakis

I'll be glad to. There is a lack of secondhand tonnage to be bought. There is a definite lack. People are not selling their secondhand tonnage, especially in cape sizes. It is also the case with supermarkets. That can be viewed that an IPO ambition was pulled back due to difficulties in locating sufficient number of tonnages; you might have heard that in the market. The point is that we might see new vessels changing hands meaning new buildings or resales. This we see and we see quite a few opportunities in that front. On used vessels there is very big drought of secondhand tonnage.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

With that being the case, would it not make sense to perhaps look at – perhaps in exploring the sale of the Ypsilon, and perhaps even shifting the COA under the Aurora later this year?

George Syllantavos

It depends around what we can do better; I mean it's always a tit for tat type of exercise, right. So if our view takes us, our comparison takes us to see which vessel is better to share which contract and what opportunities for long-term employment exists for one type of delivery or earlier for the Ypsilon or later for the Aurora, then we’ll make that determination at that time.

Akis Tsirigakis

Of course, you will appreciate that the stigma has – is under long period charter, and we’re happy with the performance technical and otherwise of the vessel. Same thing with Ypsilon, despite the age in a very, very good shape vessels, I mean, they can – as long as they earn their earning potential does not really get restricted any substantially then there is no problem on the cost side, and they are very good performers. So that has to be taken into consideration, of course, in making the replacement decision and of course what you can replace them with, as I just mentioned.

George Syllantavos

Both these vessels have been their age; have obtained the highest rating, you know, markings out there for dry bulk vessels. So they are extremely good operators.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Great, thank you. My final question relates to the dividend. George, how are you guys thinking about potentially raising the dividend in future quarters?

George Syllantavos

Well, at this point I wouldn’t like to say that we are thinking of raising or not raising or whatever. We have a view what – you know the dividend is. We believe it in the current levels it provides attractive 7% yield, and we also, as you see, we made a move in acquiring tonnage, so it might be wanting to use some cash for replacing the Beta as Akis mentioned or expanding a little. So all these thoughts have to go in and the Board will make a determination as we move forward here.

Rob MacKenzie – FBR Capital Markets

Okay. Thank you very much.

Akis Tsirigakis

Thank you.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your next question comes from (inaudible) from Morgan Stanley. Please ask your question.

Unidentified Analyst – Morgan Stanley

Hi, Akis; hi, George.

Akis Tsirigakis

Hi.

Unidentified Analyst – Morgan Stanley

I would like – can you give at least some guidance regarding the debt repayments related to the vessels that they will be sold or they have been sold?

George Syllantavos

Well, debt repayments – there were no debt repayment for the Alpha at all, so all that cash came into the company and our target would be not to make any debt repayments for the sale of the Beta either. And that really shows the great financial conditions that we find ourselves in.

Unidentified Analyst – Morgan Stanley

And also in relation to the same question, what is going to be the use of proceeds from this sale? Are you planning to buy any other vessel or is there anything in the horizon?

Akis Tsirigakis

Yes, from the Star Alpha, we have already announced a purchase. We are looking something similar in other words; let’s say possibly for the Star Beta. Yes, this is the type of proceeds we are looking at, use of proceeds, but we want to keep all our options open. I mean, there are more options as well.

George Syllantavos

40 million, I mean, our – to clear things for you when you make your calculations of general guidance is that equity and debt we apply in a kind of 60/40 type of level. Therefore, as you understand 20 million for that from the Alpha and 22 from the Beta allows us to have 42 million for those acquisitions. So, as you understand in a 40/60 split that would mean that excluding our existing cash, these sales can allow us to buy vessels of $105 million, $110 million – without needing to go back to our cash or raise extra equity or do anything like that and they loot people, so it's a very uncomfortable type of situation to be in.

Unidentified Analyst – Morgan Stanley

Okay. Thank you.

Operator

(Operator instructions) Your next question comes from (inaudible). Please ask your question.

Unidentified Analyst

Yes, good afternoon.

Akis Tsirigakis

Hi.

George Syllantavos

Good afternoon.

Unidentified Analyst

One quick question, a follow-up to some of the point raised earlier. When it comes to your vessel acquisition strategy, how do you feel the market is in terms of acquiring a vessel at a good price when they do not have a charter attached versus all that do have?

Akis Tsirigakis

Well, starting point is without a charter attached. That is the benchmark that is usually published historically. The numbers are for charter fleet vessels that exist in the databases. Now if a vessel has a charter attached, that is for the period that we are, let's say, considering, let's say it is three years, it is above the market level, that premium of the charter higher is to a certain degree, that sometimes reaches a 100% added to the charter fleet price of the vessel. So that is sometimes why you see different prices being reported if a charter is attached. Alternatively if the charter attached is below the current market levels, the value of the vessel may suffer a little bit because of it, but normally it is added and sometimes even out to 100%.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay. And then just one follow-up with the vessel that you announced that you are going to be acquiring later this year, given that this is a ten-year old vessel, is it subject to any special surveys once delivered or has it gone to anything recently that gives you confidence that it can be deployed reliably over the first couple of years of service?

Akis Tsirigakis

That is a good question, the vessel will be delivered to us with a special survey and dry docking passed already, and she is going to pass that now in June, July. The sellers will pass the special survey, so we will not have to make that expenditure.

Unidentified Analyst

So do you think you will wait until after that process is done before you’re able to seek out charters?

Akis Tsirigakis

No. As I mentioned a little earlier, we are going to be seeking charter very shortly. In fact we do not expect that we’ll have any difficulty finding forward charter as of the commencing as of the fourth quarter of 2010 when the vessel is expected to be delivered to us.

Unidentified Analyst

Okay, great. Thank you very much.

Akis Tsirigakis

Thanks.

Operator

There are no further questions.

Akis Tsirigakis

Yes, operator, is there any further questions?

Operator

There are no further questions, sir.

Akis Tsirigakis

Okay. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen. And we appreciate your attendance of our conference call. We look forward to speaking with you again when we discuss our first quarter 2010 financial results in about three-month's time. Thank you, again and goodbye.

Operator

Thank you. That does conclude our conference for today. Thank you for participating. You may all disconnect.

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Source: Star Bulk Carriers Corp. Q4 2009 Earnings Call Transcript
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