Diana Containerships' CEO Discusses Q4 2013 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Feb.17.14 | About: Diana Containerships (DCIX)

Diana Containerships, Inc. (NASDAQ:DCIX)

Q4 2013 Earnings Conference Call

February 17, 2014 9:00 AM ET


Ed Nebb – IR

Symeon Palios – Chairman and CEO

Anastasios Margaronis – President

Andreas Michalopoulos – CFO

Ioannis Zafirakis – COO


Mike Webber – Wells Fargo


Greetings, and welcome to the Diana Containerships Inc., Fourth Quarter 2013 conference call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. A brief question-and-answer session will follow the formal presentation. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

I will now like to turn the conference over to your host, Ed Nebb, Investor Relations for Diana Containerships. Thank you, Mr. Nebb, you may begin.

Ed Nebb

Well, thank you, Kevin, and greetings to all. Welcome to the Diana Containerships Inc., 2013 fourth quarter and year-end conference call. The members of the management team who are with us today include; Mr. Symeon Palios, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer; Mr. Anastasios Margaronis, President; Mr. Andreas Michalopoulos, Chief Financial Officer; Mr. Ioannis Zafirakis, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary; and Ms. Eleni Leontari, Chief Accounting Officer.

Before management begins their remarks, let me briefly summarize the Safe Harbor notice. Certain statements made during this conference call which are not historical fact are forward-looking statements under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

Our forward-looking statements are based on assumptions, expectations and beliefs as to future events that may not prove to be accurate. For a description of the risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause future results to differ from the forward-looking statements, please refer to the company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

And now with that, let me turn the call over to Mr. Symeon Palios, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Diana Containerships.

Symeon Palios

Thank you, Ed. Good morning, and thank you for joining us. It is my pleasure to report to you on the performance of Diana Containerships Inc. for the fourth quarter and full-year 2013.

During the past year, we took a number of actions to position the company to benefit from the long-term opportunities that we see in the containership market. In particular, we reconfigured our fleet with a primary emphasis on adding more modern vessels. In this regard, we acquired three container vessels during 2013; the motor vessel Hanjin Malta, the motor vessel Puelo, and the motor vessel Pucon.

In addition, we sold four vessels for demolition in 2013, and recently announced an additional sale. The orders of the scrap vessels were 24-years old. These vessel sales were primarily intended to eliminate further tonnage that could not be operated economically, while also generating cash for eventual reinvestment in more desirable vessels.

With all of the above sales completed, we will have a fleet of eight vessels. Our fleet is time chartered to some of the industry’s leading container lines for more than 86% of the days in 2014 and approximately 25% of the days in 2015, providing a stable revenue stream. The contracted gross revenue of the fleet for 2014 onwards is approximately $81.2 million.

Now to summarize our financial results. Time charter revenues, net of prepaid charter revenues amortization for the 2013 fourth quarter were $15.5 million, an increase from $14.6 million for the same period of 2012. Time charter revenues for all of 2013 totaled $54 million compared to $56.6 million for the year of 2012.

The company recorded a net loss of $19.8 million for the 2013 fourth quarter. However, the fourth quarter loss was mainly the result of the impairment charges for the vessel Sardonyx, and direct sale and other charges associated with disposal of the vessels Spinel. Excluding surcharges, the result for 2013 fourth quarter would have been net income of $2.1 million or earnings per share of $0.06.

Net loss for the full-year of 2013 amounted to $57.3 million. This was mainly the result of impairment charges and direct sales and other charges for the vessel vessels Madrid, Malacca, Merlion, Spinel and Sardonyx. Excluding surcharges, the results for the year would have been net income of $1.5 million, or earnings per share of $0.04.

We have continued to maintain an attractive and prudent dividend policy. Today, we announced that the Board of Directors has declared a dividend of $0.15 payable on or about March 19, 2014 to all shareholders of record as at March 4, 2014.

Our balance sheet remains to show substantial strength. At the end of the 2013, the company had approximately $20 million of available cash, approximately $10 million of restricted cash and shareholders’ equity of more than $164 million. We have continued to take advantage of the opportunity to issue shares through our previously announced at-the-market equity offering.

During the quarter ended December 31, 2013 and back to this day, the company has sold an aggregate of 1,351,890 common shares through the ATM offering at a weighted average selling price of $3.91. The company received total net proceeds of $5.2 million. We have approximately $25.7 million remaining to be sold through the ATM offering.

In summary, the performance of Diana Containerships for 2013 reflected our strategic actions to reconfigure our fleet, strengthen our financial capacity to support continue growth and deliver shareholder value in the form of cash dividend.

Going forward, we will continue to pursue the strategy that has driven our progress today and we remain continue to deliver shareholders value through our dividend policy.

Now I will turn the call over to our President, Stacey Margaronis, for a perspective on industry conditions. He will then be followed by our Chief Financial Officer, Andreas Michalopoulos, who will provide a more detailed financial overview. Thank you.

Anastasios Margaronis

Thank you, Symeon, and welcome to all the participants in this morning’s conference call by Diana Containerships.

Macroeconomic developments around the globe are always a good place to start when looking at the present and future state of the containership market. The IMF revised its forecast of global growth in 2014 as growth in the United States and the United Kingdom accelerated during the year. The global economy is projected to grow 3.7% in 2014, compared to an estimate of 3.6% given in October 2013.

The United States economy is expected to expand 2.8% this year. For the container business, the all-important U.S. retail sales figures came out better than expected in December 2013 as 0.2% month-on-month increase. The U.K. economy is expected to grow by 2.4% this year.

As for China, is expected to grow by 7.5% in 2014. Chinese GDP reported to grew by 7.7% year-on-year in the fourth quarter of 2013, which was marginally slower than the 7.8% year-on-year rate of growth registered during the third quarter of last year. In the signs of domestic demand in some sectors is still very strong, sales of new homes in China grew by 21% year-on-year to $1.1 trillion last year in 2013, despite the government’s efforts to cool down the cost property market.

The euro area is expected to grow by 1% this year and 1.4% in 2015, which indicates that finally recovery will materialize in the sectors of the euro zone. According to Maersk Broker, economic activity in the euro area in January expanded a bit faster pace in 13 months, as the manufacturing index increased to 53.9% from 52.7% in the prior months.

With regards to the container business, Maersk Broker reports that private consumption in the euro area is looking positive. This was reflected in high car sales figures and positive results from major retailers. In November 2013, the retail trade grew 1.4% month-on-month, which was the biggest monthly rise according to Braemar Seascope since November 2001.

Let’s look at the liner company development. According to Alphaliner on January 22 of this year, Hapag-Lloyd and CSAV signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding to merge their container shipping business. If this deal goes through, it will create the fourth largest liner shipping company in the world, with a combined fleet of just under one million TEU and the global market share of 5.6%.

For charter owners, the benefit from such rationalization is that it would improve the financial strength of liner companies and introduce some controls over the so-far unchecked rate for market share that all major liner companies have been engaging in to-date through ordering more and more large container vessels.

Let’s turn to container trade growth. As we have mentioned in the past, demand for container transportation is a function of world GDP growth. RS Platou reminds us that from 2001 to 2012, average GDP growth stood at 3.8% per annum and container demand increased by 8.1% per annum. This implies that the multiplier for that period was about 2.1.

Going forward, if GDP growth in the Europe and the United States picks up over the medium term, with high multipliers there with container demand growth, would easily bring the average multiplier up to 2.5. Under this scenario, a 4% growth in world GDP could raise demand growth for container transportation to 10% per annum. If this materializes, then the so-called gloom projections which are today prevalent in the containership market will have to change dramatically for the better.

According to Clarksons, global container trade is currently projected to grow by 6% in 2014 after expanding by 5% during 2013. Global container capable supply requirements is expected to increase by 4.8% this year. If this materializes, it will be slightly outpaced by global demand growth. However, as a degree of structural oversupply undoubtedly persists, freight rates on individual routes will according to Clarksons continue to be determined by capacity management with a speed and magnitude of the cascade effect remaining crucial.

This is extremely good news for the entire route hierarchy according to Clarksons, as it is likely to ease the supply pressures, which we have been witnessing across the board for a while now. In north-south trades, which grew by 4.3% in 2013, are estimated to grow by 5.6% this year. Intra-regional trade is expected to grow by 6.9% in 2014.

Record scrapping levels, which we will mention in greater detail below and the small sub-8,000 TEU order book, together with the potential slowdown of the cascade, should act as supporting factor in the charter markets over the medium term.

Let’s look at the new building order book now. According to figures gathered by Clarksons Research, at the beginning of this year, the containership order book consisted of 474 vessels capable of carrying 3,692,400 TEU, which represented 21.6% of the existing fleet. This total consists of a 103 vessels of 12,000 plus TEU, out of an existing fleet of 151 vessels. And 150 vessels of between 8,000 and 12,000 TEU carrying capacity out of an existing fleet of 400 such vessels.

There are 95 post-Panamax ships on order, smaller than 8,000 TEU, representing 13% of the existing fleet. And finally, near 10-Panamax of over 3,000 TEU capacity. The later representing 0.9% of the existing Panamax fleet. Clarksons’ believe that it is possible for the 8,000 to 10,000 TEU vessels to soon become the workhorses in a number of transpacific and large north-south trades.

However, they also believe that basically trends of non-ordering continues, the rebounce of the shortage of goods specification Panamax vessels to service the smaller north-south trade and the intra-regional trades which have been growing quickly every year.

New building deliveries now. According to Clarksons, during 2013, 201 boxes of the combined carrying capacity of 1.34 million TEU was delivered. Large vessels of over 8,000 TEU accounted for nearly 70% of this delivered capacity. In contrast, a mere 700,000 TEU of capacity was delivered in the shrinking sub-3,000 TEU sector.

As for slippage. It is interesting to note that according to RS Platou in 2012, 79% of the order book was actually delivered. In 2013, this number had dropped slightly to 73% of the order book. As of the end of January 2014, admittedly a very small time period, 96% of the vessels scheduled for delivery were actually delivered.

During 2014, the scheduled deliveries stand at 1,775,921 TEU. For 2015, scheduled deliveries stand at 1,537,485 TEU. From these ships 80% are above the 7,000 TEU size range for 2014, while this percentage rises to an impressive 85% in 2015.

As per new building ordering, during 2013, a total of 223 ships with a combined carrying capacity of 1.82 million TEU were ordered for delivery from 2015 onwards. A staggering 88% of all these orders were for ships able to carrying more than 8,000 TEU. At the same time, there has been a relatively little investments in smaller vessels.

The 3,000 TEU to 8,000 TEU capacity on order have fallen to its lowest levels since 1999 according to Clarksons.

Let’s go to freight rates. So far in 2014, the average Asia to Europe freight rates are up by 9% year-on-year and stand at approximately $1,500 per TEU. Transpacific rates are up by much less and stand at around $1,100 per TEU. As for intra-Asia, freight rates, they have remained flat so far this year at around $720 per box. As for the laid-up tonnage, according to Alphaliner, in the middle of January this year, the total containership capacity in lay-up stood at 681,800 TEU. These 223 ideal ships accounted for 3.9% of the overall containership fleet.

Most of these vessels are small, but the average size of laid-up tonnage stands now at just over 3,000 TEU.

Scrapping now. Demolition during 2013 reached a record of 187 vessels or 428,765 TEU. Of the vessels scrapped last year, 66 were in the 3,000 plus TEU Panamax sector, accounting for 55% of the capacity demolished. As a result of the scrapping, the Panamax fleet shrank by 4.3% over the course of 2013.

The fact that earnings remains soft for these ships, is a result of the cascade effect which took away from the besides routes than the new routes they were able to enter into on the north-south trade and the Asian intra-regional routes. The average age of ships scrapped in 2013 was 22.5 years, one year younger with the average age of vessels scrapped in 2012.

Let’s look at the cascade effect. The devastating effect of the cascade and trade upsizing to the earnings of medium and smaller-sized container vessels have been discussed to exhaustion during the past three years or so.

For example, at the start of the last quarter of 2013, 39% of capacity in transpacific trade was provided by 8,000 plus TEU vessels, while 60% was provided by smaller ships down to 3,000 TEUs.

The carrying capacity provided by the very large container carriers in this trade have quadrupled since late 2009, which illustrates a dramatic effect of upsizing. Similar upsizing has been taken place in the Far East to Europe trade routes.

However, we agree with Clarksons that at some point there should be a limit to be cascade. Going forward, the absorption of the majority of cascadable tonnage and/or the demands from cumulative trade growth will eventually slow down, and so will be cascading. Thus slowing in the cascade combined with a very thin order book in the small and medium sizes and high rates of demolition should tighten the supply of suitable capacity for many trades.

Let’s finally turn to the outlook for our trade. According to Maersk Broker, developments in 2014 should mirror what happened in 2013, that is steady improvement in the earnings of fee to tonnage and continued challenges for Panamax tonnage until the point has been reached where demolition has removed a surplus tonnage. Proposed Panamax ships, they predict continued good demand with seasonal weakness during the first and the fourth quarter.

The infamous cascading will – according to Maersk Broker continues to be an issue in 2014. There will be continued push to utilize the largest possible tonnage in every trade.

According to Maersk, charterers’ appetite modern wide-beam 9,000 TEU ships will continue unabated during this year. Five-year charters for these ships were recently negotiated at around 40,000 per day. In contrast, the time charter rates for 5,500 TEU vessels came under pressure late in 2013 and early this year, with just below 11,000 per day offered for periods of up to 12 months.

According to Maersk Broker, the outlook for the 4,000 TEU to 5,000 TEU tonnage is still bleak except for modern wide-beam vessels which is the result of the desire by liner operators to achieve cost savings due to the fuel efficiency of these vessels.

As mentioned earlier on, Maersk Broker believes that the Panamax market to improve, additional tonnage will have to be removed from the market this year. This is a trend that Maersk is confident will be developed in 2014 as owners and liner operators are active sellers for demolition of such tonnage.

The outlook for ships between 2,000 TEU and 4,000 TEU this year will, according to Maersk, more positive as there will be negative fleet growth in 2014 and positive momentum should develop during the second and third quarters for 2014.

As we go through this year, we will continue to manage the fleet and its employment, as we have been doing over the last three years. The recent trends of scrapping older ships as they come off high and profitable charters may continue depending on their future employment prospects.

Gradually, these will be replaced by more modern and larger ships. This would support and enhance the visibility of our dividend payments to our shareholders. It is little doubt that we are getting closer to a recovery in rates across the medium and small sized ranges. For some time now, market forces have been at worse, which has traditionally helped shipping market to recover from their lows.

We should not underestimate the beneficial cumulative effects of high scrapping, low ordering and extremely negative psychology, which has prevailed in the containership markets over the past three years or so. Indeed if it were not for the larger vessel new building order book and the income of cascade effects, things would have improved dramatically much sooner.

However as I mentioned above, cascades do not last forever in any trade, and as soon as this upsize, market participant and investors will realize the huge supply shortage which will have developed through the years in the medium and small sized container vessels. And at that time, the earnings of these ships will probably be moving higher and higher.

I will now pass the call to our CFO, Andreas Michalopoulos, who will provide us with the financial highlights of the last quarter and whole year 2013. Thank you.

Andreas Michalopoulos

Thank you, Stacey, and good morning. I am pleased to be discussing today with you, Diana Containerships Inc. operational results for the fourth quarter of 2013 and the year-ended December 31, 2013.

Fourth quarter of 2013, net loss of Diana Containerships Inc. amounted to $19.8 million and the loss per share amounted to $0.58. Time charter revenues, net of prepaid charter revenue amortization amounted to $15.5 million compared to $14.6 million in 2012. The increase in time charter revenues was due to increased average time charter rates at ships during the quarter compared with the same period of last year, and the contribution of revenues of the vessels APL Garnet in November 2012, and Hanjin Malta, Puelo and Pucon in March, August and September 2013 respectively, partly offset by the disposal of the vessels Madrid, Malacca, Merlion and Spinel in May, June and December 2013 respectively.

Ownership days were 908 for the quarter, compared to 871 in the same period of 2012. Fleet utilization was 99.6% for the quarter, compared to 99.9% for 2012, and the daily time charter equivalent rate was $16,878 compared to $16,374 in 2012. Voyage expenses were $0.2 million for the quarter.

Operating expenses decreased by $1.5 million or 17% to $7.3 million in 2013, compared to $8.8 million for the same quarter of 2012. Operating expenses in the fourth quarter of 2013 decreased despite the increase in ownership days in the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to 2012.

On average, operating expenses decreased mainly due to decreased spares, repairs and maintenance costs. And this decrease was partially offset by increased insurance expenses. Daily operating expenses were $8,054 for the fourth quarter of 2013 compared to $10,114 in 2012.

Depreciation amounted to $3 million for the quarter. General and administrative expenses were $1.2 million, compared to $0.8 million in the fourth quarter of 2012. The increase was mainly attributable to the establishment of Unitized Ocean Transport Limited, or UOT, our wholly-owned subsidiary to act as a fleet manager effective March 1, 2013, and was partially offset by decreased compensation costs on restricted stock awards.

Impairment losses amounted to $9.7 million and represents non-cash impairment charges recorded during the fourth quarter of 2013 for the vessel Sardonyx. Loss on vessel sales amounted to $12.2 million, and relates to the sale of the vessel Spinel in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Interest and finance costs for the fourth quarter of 2013 amounted to $1.7 compared to $0.8 million for the same quarter of 2012. The increase was a result of increased average debt after the drawdown of $15 million from our loan agreement with Diana Shipping Inc. and $6 million from our credit facility with RBS in 2013.

Net loss of Diana Containerships Inc. amounted to $67.3 million and a loss per share amounted to $1.73. Time charter revenues, net of prepaid charter revenue of amortization amounted to $54 million compared to $56.6 million in 2012. Time charter revenues decreased due to decreased average time charter rates achieved in 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, partly offset by the increasingly ownership date in 2013 compared to the same period of 2012.

Ownership days were 3,516 in 2013 compared to 3,156 in 2012. Fleet utilization was 97.9% compared to 99.8% in 2012, and the daily time charter equivalent rate was $15,162 for the period compared to $17,499 for the same period of 2012. Voyage expenses were $0.7 million.

Operating expenses for the year amounted to $30.9 million compared to $29 million for the same period of 2012. Increase in operating expenses was due to increase in ownership days and also due to increased crew costs, insurances and tax expenses, partially offset by decreased spares, repairs and maintenance costs. Daily operating expenses were $8,780 for the year ended December 31, 2013, compared to $9,179 in the prior period.

Depreciation amounted to $11.1 million. Management fees amounted to $0.3 million and represented the fees paid to Diana Shipping Services up to February 28, 2013. Effective March 1, 2013, UOT provides us with management services similar to those previously provided by Diana Shipping Services. The fees payable to UOT are eliminated upon consolidation as inter-company transactions.

General and administrative expenses amounted to $5.1 million compared to $3.5 million for the same period in 2012. The increase was mainly attributable to the establishment of UOT to act as our fleet manager effective March 1, 2013, and was partly offset by decreased company promotion expenses and compensation costs on restricted stock awards.

Impairment losses amounted to $42.3 million and represents non-cash impairment charges recorded during the first quarter of 2013 for the vessels Madrid, Malacca and Merlion and during the fourth quarter for the vessel Sardonyx. Loss on vessel sales amounted to $16.5 million, and relates to the sale of the vessels Madrid, Malacca and Merlion in the second quarter of 2013 and Spinel in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Interest and finance costs were $4.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2013, compared to $3.1 million for the same period in 2012. As mentioned earlier, in 2013, we had increased average debt outstanding compared to 2012, as well as increased average interest rates.

Turning to dividend policy, for the fourth quarter of 2013, the Board of Directors has decided to declare a dividend of $0.15 per share.

Thank you for your attention. We would be pleased to respond to your questions now, and I would turn the call to the operator who will instruct you as to the procedure for asking questions. Thank you.

Question-and-Answer Session


Thank you. At this time, we’ll be conducting a question and answer session. (Operator Instructions) Our first question today is coming from Mike Webber from Wells Fargo. Please proceed with your question.

Mike Webber – Wells Fargo

Good morning guys. How are you?

Symeon Palios

Good morning.

Andreas Michalopoulos

Hi Mike.

Mike Webber – Wells Fargo

Hi. Happy Presidents’ Day. Just a couple of quick questions for you. In thinking about the model longer-term and the $60 million loss put-up this year in terms of the sale on vessels that were acquired primarily due to their charter cover. Is it still kind of the, I guess the focus going forward in terms of acquiring assets that have a significant amount of residual value risk that have significant charters on them as well, of course basically buying cashless [ph] streams and option value. And if that is the case, what makes you confident that the next year to 18 months is when we’re going to see some of that option value really kind of come into the money?

Ioannis Zafirakis

Hi Mike, this is Ioannis. Yes, we are in a position now, the size of the company is such that we can concentrate on better assets that have less risk on the residual value as you said. And from the moment that we can ensure that there is a certain visibility on our earnings capacity for the next 18 months or so as you said, we think that we are in a very good situation waiting for the market to pick-up.

We feel that development in the next 18 months are going to be very critical for the market and most probably we are going to see market improvement, but at the same time we have to see what we would be able to do in between – during that period and whether we can extend it for a little longer if necessary by doing something similar to what we have done up to now.

The long story short, we have managed to keep the balance sheet very healthy and still be in a position to wait for the market to pick-up, where value is going to be created for our shareholders. We strongly feel that today is a good opportunity for someone to get invested in the containership sector, and based on the volatility that we have seen in the past, that maybe – the one that are going to do so, they are going to place themselves in a very good position to make very nice returns within the next two to three years.

Mike Webber – Wells Fargo

Great, right. Now that makes sense. They are expensive options to keep extending. So within that context, when you think about returns over the next two to three years, and that you guys have an active ATM right now and you think about your equity needs going forward. Does the ATM at this point, assuming you can go ahead and fulfill it – does that kind of satisfy the equity component of your growth needs you think for the near and the intermediate term?

Ioannis Zafirakis

Well, as you know Mike, the ATM is in place. We have declared that we are going to use it opportunistically as it fits ours needs in our growth prospects. We’re going to continue to do that. Now, we’re always on the lookout for what is available and will continue to be so in terms of equity, debt, what have you, all the insurance that are available to us, but for the moment, the ATMs would fit us well.

Mike Webber – Wells Fargo

Okay, fair enough. And then one more for me, just around the distribution. Just based on what you’re seeing right now, I know you’re not yet hitting a timeframe on a recovery yet but based on what you’re seeing now, how much longer do you think you can sustain the current dividend?

Symeon Palios

You can clearly see based on our existing charters and based on the charters we have aside, that the $0.15 dividend can be sustained for at least the next 18 months looking at – as I said earlier, looking at the existing charters and also at the cash available.

Now the cash available can be used in two ways. The one is to buy something that is going to be adding to the visibility and sustainability of this $0.15, or can be set aside to support this $0.15 dividend. Either way, I think that you as an analyst and as our management of the Diana Containerships, we should try and pass this message across better, because anyone that can look at our numbers on our balance sheet and we have existing charters, can see the sustainability of this $0.15 for the next 18 months as I said earlier.

This is something that we have not managed to pass across as a message, and I think we should use everyone to look at the numbers better and see that the $0.15 is something that – it looks sustainable.

Mike Webber – Wells Fargo

Right, okay. All right guys. Thanks for the time.

Symeon Palios

Thank you, Mike.


Thank you. (Operator Instructions) One moment please while we poll for further questions. We have reached the end of our question and answer session. I’d like to turn the floor back over to management for any further closing comments.

Symeon Palios

Thank you again for your interest in and support of Diana Containerships. We look forward to speak with you in the months ahead. Thank you.


Thank you. This concludes today’s teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time and have a wonderful day. We thank you for your participation today.

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