Diana Containerships' (DCIX) CEO Symeon Palios on Q1 2014 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

May.13.14 | About: Diana Containerships (DCIX)

Diana Containerships, Inc. (NASDAQ:DCIX)

Q1 2014 Results Earnings Conference Call

May 13, 2014 09:00 AM ET


Ed Nebb - Investor Relations Advisor

Symeon Palios - Chairman and CEO

Anastasios Margaronis - President

Andreas Michalopoulos - Chief Financial Officer

Eleni Leontari - Chief Accounting Officer


Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Kevin Sterling - BB&T


Greetings, and welcome to the Diana Containerships, Inc. First Quarter 2014 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.

It is now my pleasure to introduce your host Ed Nebb, Investor Relations Advisor. Thank you sir, you may begin.

Ed Nebb

Thank you very much. And thanks to all of you for joining the Diana Containerships, Inc. 2014 first quarter conference call. The members of the Diana Containerships’ management team who are with us today are 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 statements of historical fact are forward-looking statements under the Safe Harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act.

Such forward-looking statements are based on assumptions, expectations, projections, intentions and beliefs about 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 SEC.

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

Symeon Palios

Thanks Ed. Good morning, and thank you for joining us to discuss the 2014 first quarter results of Diana Containerships. We have continued to take a long-term view in our efforts to position the company to capitalize on the eventual recovery in the container market and to operate our business in a prudent and financially some [manner].

In this regard, after carefully considering the current containership charter markets and vessel acquisition opportunities, the Board of Directors, the timing to reduce the cash dividend payable with respect to the first quarter to $0.05 per share. We believe this action is in the best interest of the company and its shareholders and is consistent with the long-term strategy of maintaining a strong balance sheet and pursuing attractive vessel purchase opportunities as they arise.

In taking this action, the company expects to deploy its available cash to purchase additional containership vessels at currently attractive prices that will further enhance the company’s position to capitalize on the eventual recovery in the container market.

We believe this use of our financial capacity will enhance long-term shareholder value and will eventually -- and will evaluate future dividend decisions in light of the prevailing market position. The cash dividend of $0.05 per share will be payable on or around June 11, 2014 to all shareholders of record as at May 28, 2014.

In other strategic action during the first quarter, we sold for demolition a 1995-built vessel, the Sardonyx for a price of approximately $10 million before commission. This sale also was consistent with our efforts to modernize the fleet and position the company for future improvements in the containership market.

Now to summarize our financial results, time charter revenues for the 2014 first quarter were $13.5 million compared to $15.1 million for the same period of 2013. The company reported net income of $0.3 million for the 2014 first quarter compared to net loss of $31.8 million for the same period of 2013. During the first quarter of 2014, the company incurred losses arising from the disposal of the vessel Sardonyx, amounting to $0.7 million. Excluding these losses, net income for the first quarter of 2014 would have been $1 million and the earnings per share basic and diluted would have been [$0.03 million] for the quarter.

Our fleet time chartered to some of the industry’s leading container lines for more than 88% 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 including the first quarter 2014 is approximately US$81.6 million. Our balance sheet remains solid. At March 31, 2014 the company had approximately US$33 million of available cash and approximately US$10 million of restricted cash on the balance sheet and stockholders’ equity of nearly US$164 million.

During the quarter ended March 31, 2014 and up to this date, the company has shown an aggregate of 1,92,596 common shares through our market equity offering at a weighted average sales price of US$4.03. The company received total net proceeds of US$4.3 million in connection with these shares.

In summary, the results of Diana Containerships for the first quarter of 2014 reflected our continued effort to position the company financially and operationally to deliver performance and shareholder value for the long-term.

Now I will turn the call over to our president, Stacey Margaronis for a perspective on industry conditions. He will then 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 quarterly conference call. Let’s start with quarterly health check -- by looking at the financial health of the liner company, on which (inaudible) designed for employment of their container vessel. According to Alphaliner, average operating margins for container carriers remains under pressure during 2013, the aggregate operating income turn positive for the first time since 2010.

The combined operating income of main carrier survey by Alphaliner reached the US$247 million, although only 6 out of the 19 liner operator surveys reported positive operating margins for 2013.

The positive combined result is due to the strong performance of Maersk and CMA CGM who reported core operating profit of US$1.524 billion and US$756 million respectively. The remaining 17 carriers accumulated operating losses totaling US$2.023 billion. It is noteworthy though that the second largest liner operator MSC is not included in the survey and it does not publish any financial results.

Let's look at the recent developments around the containership industry. Freight rates according to Clarksons struggled across the board during 2013. However, rates did start improving at the beginning of this year especially on the all important hires of the U.S. West Coast route, has seasonal capacity reduction, allow carriers to drive up rates from the December 2013 loss.

During 2013, (inaudible) capacity exerted among other factors, downward pressure on the charter markets (inaudible) self sufficient to bring design charter markets under intense pressure during last year.

Benchmark rate for 4,400 TEU Panamaxes came under severe pressure down to just US$7,500 per day at the end of 2013. In the larger sizes, the [3G] of benchmark rate 49,000 TEU vessels and that the year that’s around US$39,000 per day. On the Northern Mainland Group, the pressure came from the (inaudible) capacities throughout last year.

Now the trade outlook. According to Clarksons Research global container trade projected to grow by 6% in 2014 and by 7% in 2015 having expanded by about 5% last year. Growth of trade along the Mainland is projected to be around 5% this year after showing sluggish growth during 2013. The Far East to Europe volumes are expected to increase by 5.1% this year, while the trans-Pacific east-bound trades are expected to grow by 5.2% in 2014.

According to a senior IMF economist, recovering the Eurozone is strengthening and risks of a return to recession are receiving. European container import volumes are project according to Clarksons to grow by 4.7% in 2014, up from 3.7% growth in 2013. This is an impressive multiple of the anemic rate of GDP growth of about 1.2% expected this year for the Eurozone, it also helped us estimate the higher rate of container input growth we could witness in 2015 if Eurozone growth accelerates even modest.

So in United States container input growth is expected to come in at 4.7% in 2014 after growing only 3.6% last year and the economy as a whole is expected to grow by 2.8% in 2014 according to the IMF. It is another economic zone with higher [DTG] container import multiple as well as well sized relative volumes. Most importantly according to Maersk Broker, U.S. consumer confidence rose more than expected in March this year climbing to its highest level since January 2008. The positive consumer confidence data in the United States was backed by the flagship PMI as data of economic sentiment for March which came in at 65.5 indicating further expansion in the economy.

Intra-regional trade is expected to grow by 6.9% this year driven by strong intra-Asian trade growth. The volumes of north-south trades are expected to grow by 5.6% in 2014 driven by strong demand from the Southern Hemisphere. According to [Bray Martisco] in China even though during the first quarter of this year the economy expanded by 7.4% retail sales in March spiked by 12.2% compared to the same month last year underscoring China’s efforts to boost economic growth through increased consumption at home. If this continues the effects on the inbound container trade could be very positive.

Let’s turn to supply. According to Clarksons at the beginning of March this year the containership fleet numbered 5,115 vessels having combined carrying capacity of 17.13 million TEU. The new building order book consisted of 468 vessels having a combined carrying capacity of 3.654 billion TEU which is equivalent to 21.1% of the current global containership fleet capacity.

From these ships comprising the new building order book only 10 are Panamaxes, 95 are post Panamaxes under 8,000 TEU, a 150 post Panamaxes between 8,000 and 12,000 TEU and 103 are very large containerships larger than 12,000 TEU. The general upsizing in several trade routes has lead to the increase of the average vessel size in the trans-Atlantic trades from 2,986 TEU at the start of 2012 to 3,554 TEU at the beginning of this year.

In the trans-Pacific trade, upsizing has been more pronounce. At the start of 2014 there were 141 very large containerships deployed in those trades, representing 42% of capacity while a year earlier that percentage was a much lower 32%. At the beginning of this year there were still 134 post Panamaxes under 8,000 TEU and another 197 Panamaxes trading trans-Pacific which according to Clarkson demonstrates that there is still further scope for more cascading in future.

This will obviously be limited though by other factors such as port handling facilities and trade volumes on specific routes. Much less scope of cascading exists however in the Far East to Europe trade where already 82% of the trade is loaded in ships capable of carrying more than 8,000 TEU, this percentage was only 52% at the beginning of 2009.

Let’s turn to new building deliveries now. In 2014 Clarkson estimate that 1.3 million TEU containership capacity will be delivered, 79% of which will consist of [6] largers and 8,000 TEUs. This proportion is expected to increase further next year when it is estimated to reach 86% of the total 1.51 million TEU deliverable capacity.

In 2015 Alphaliner estimates that about 67 containerships, larger than 10,000 TEU will join the team with the number of polling to around 34 in 2016. In addition to the above, Alphaliner estimates that [56] in excess of 7,500 TEU and smaller than 10,000 TEU carrying capacity will be delivered in 2015 and the further 24 vessels in 2016.

In contrast with the above numbers and near14 ships between 4,000 TEU and 7,500 TEU carrying capacity joined the fleet in 2015 and only one so far is scheduled for delivery in 2016. These figures provide a clear indication of the [enormous] difference is among the various sizes of ships in the existing quarter.

As regard to slippage, this can be calculated if we take into account the fact that in 2014 the schedule delivery order book is 1.69 million TEU and only 1.3 million TEU are expected to be actually delivered. From the 1.64 million TEU schedule for deliveries in 2015 Clarkson’s estimates that that at most about 1.51 million TEU will be delivered.

Demolition now, we think the most important check on supply growth from 2013 onwards has been demolition activity. During 2013, 187 vessels capable of carrying 430,000 TEU were sold for scrap, the biggest ever annual total.

This number will be comfortably exceeded this year according to Braemar Seascope who point out that 60 cellular containerships were sold for scrap during the first quarter of this year, with a combined carrying capacity of 210,000 TEU. This represents a 95% year-on-year increase in terms of cargo carrying capacity.

The average age of containers that sold for scrap so far this year is approximately 21 years compared to 22.7 years in 2013. As regard to the average size, this has gone up from 2,280 TEU in 2013 to 3,377 TEU this year. Clarksons expect that at least 0.49 million TEU worth of container capacity will be scrapped this year; if it materializes, this will be a new all time record. We expect a further 370,000 TEU to be scrapped in 2015. However, we consider this to be a very sensitive estimate as it is far too early to make any credible fracing predictions for next year.

According to Maersk Broker, demolition activity appears to finally be having an impact on the reduction of tonnage availability, specifically in the 3,000 to 5,000 TEU segment; the ideal tonnage that comes down from 80 ships at the beginning of this year to currently around 50 units. Maersk Broker continues that some of these ships will require several weeks to be reactivated and other tonnage is not really available for further grading, as it is in the process of being sold for scrap.

On the back of increasing demand, Maersk therefore expects the smaller post-Panamax tonnage becoming available during this year to be quickly absorbed to fill in the supply shortage created by the lack of ships in the immediately smaller-sized segment.

As far as idle capacity is concerned, according to Alphaliner, during the third week of April, there were 185 ships in lay-up capable of carrying 513,000 TEU which represented around 3% of the containership fleet. The number of idle ships is expected to fall further over the next 3 months as demand is expected to pick up for the summer peak season with the start of new services hopefully absorbing most of the 20 vessels above 5,100 TEU which are currently idle.

Let's turn to new building contracts. According to Clarkson this year, there have been about 44 new building contracts signed against the total number of 241 for the whole of last year. At this stage, new building contracts will be about 34% down on last year’s total. There have been no new building contracts signed or ships between 3,000 and 8,000 TEU since November of last year.

According to Braemar Seascope, during March of this year new building contracting slowed down significantly with only 9 units reported as new orders. However, Maersk Broker points out that there are several operators evaluating their future requirements and the expectation is still that orders may start to appear later this year but at the slower phase than seen last year. Maersk maintains their full year forecast for contracting at 1.5 million TEU compared to about 1.9 million TEU in 2013.

On the supply demand balance now, Clarksons predicted that projected supply growth this year of 4% will be outpaced by demand growth of 6%, although a degree of structural oversupply will remain in the market. For 2016, Clarksons predict demand growth of 7%, the supply increasing up 5% and structural oversupply weakening this time.

In the Panamax by sector according to Maersk Broker, (inaudible) efforts referred to earlier tonnage lay-up and the number of contract extension have reduced the availability of tonnage this year. In addition, various services were upgraded from 2,800 TEU to Panamax tonnage and now finally have the choice in terms of the employment of their vessel.

Braemar Seascope reports that there has recently been growth in the deployment of Panamax vessel on intra-Asia routes furthermore delays in the completion of the Panamax (inaudible) despite the Panamax sector, as new building deliveries are extremely low and (inaudible). Maersk expects that the level of activity to continue to improve for this type segment. However how much rates can improve remains to be seen, but currently tonnage appears to be fixed at an increasing pace as some charterers have decided to move quickly to secure Panamax tonnage at attractive rates.

Furthermore, Clarksons points out that in the medium-term, the potential absorption of the feasibility or desirability of cascading may eventually lead to a supply deficit on freights that require small and medium size ships. This will come about at the same time as we combine effect of a same order book in these size ranges and the higher rates of demolition which we have been witnessing since the beginning of last year. There are indications, Clarksons continues that the cascade on to intra-Asian trade is slowing down Braemar Seascope before that the most positive news of all eliminates from the post Panamax sizes eight have been achieved higher than (inaudible) 6,000 TEU and 9,000 TEU segment. Supply at the end of the year target market appears to be low as lines have generally withdrawn re-let tonnage from the market to deploy in their own service networks.

Slow steaming now, in order to combat the structural over supply in the (inaudible) created by the 9% trade contraction of 2009, running capacity growth has been weighted by the widespread of the auction containership slow steaming. This according to Clarksons may have absorbed about 2 million TEU of nominal capacity from the market since the end of 2008. This is another factor that should be taken into account in the longer term as time charter rates increased across the five spectrums.

As regard to asset values, at the end of 2013, the containership second hand pricing moved up 37.1, which was 57% lower than at the end of 2010. Charter free tonnage could be both at very attractive prices on many occasions not much higher than the scrap value for ships around 15 years of age.

Our new building capacity according to Clarksons due to heavy new building contracting in other sectors of shipping, the yard capacity available for containership contraction beyond 2015 maybe reviewed. This could place the gap on possible future fleet expansions.

Finally we agree with the Maersk Broker that even though there may still be a way to go to achieve healthy supply demand equilibrium, there is hope that the market will come much closer to equilibrium later this year.

This had initially seen in the time charter rates and series of available proposed Panamax tonnage. However with the expected continuation of negative growth in the smaller size segment, there should be a room for improvement there as well especially for modern and fuel efficient tonnage.

I will now pass the call to our CFO, Andreas Michalopoulos, who will present you with the first quarter financial highlights of Diana Containerships Inc. Thank you.

Andreas Michalopoulos

Thank you, Stacey and good morning. I’m pleased to be discussing today with you Diana Containerships Inc. operational results for the first quarter of 2014. Net income of Diana Containerships Inc. amounted to $0.3 million and the earnings per share amounted to $0.01. Time charter revenues net of prepaid charter revenue amortization amounted to $13.5 million compared to $15.1 million in 2013.

The decrease in time charter revenues were mainly due to decreased ownership days after the disposal of five vessels for May 2015 to February 2014 partially offset by the acquisition of three vessels in March, August and September 2013 respectively. The decrease in time charter revenues were partially offset by increased average time charter rates achieved in 2014.

Ownership days were 771 for the quarter compared to 915 in the same period of 2013. Fleet utilization was 99% for the quarter compared to 100% for 2013 and the daily time charter equivalent rate of $17,337 compared to $16,203 in 2013.

Wage expenses were $0.1 million for the quarter. Operating expenses decreased by $1.6 million or 19% to $6.6 million in 2014 compared to $8.2 million for the same quarter of 2013. Operating expenses in the first quarter of 2014 mainly decreased due to the decrease in ownership days compared 2013.

In addition, average operating expenses decreased mainly due to decreased spares, repairs and maintenance costs. And this decrease was partially offset by increased insurance and tax expenses. Daily operating expenses were $8,598 for the first quarter of 2014 compared to $8,987 in 2013.

Depreciation amounted to $2.5 million for the quarter. General and administrative expenses were $1.7 million compared to $1.3 million for the first quarter of 2013. This increase was mainly attributable to the establishment of Unitized Ocean Transport Limited, our wholly-owned subsidiary to act as a fleet manager effective March 01, 2013 and was partially offset by decreased compensation costs on restricted stock awards.

Loss on vessel sales amounted to $0.7 million and relates to the sale of the vessel Sardonyx in the first quarter of 2014.

Interest and finance costs for the first quarter of 2014 amounted to $1.7 million compared to $0.8 million for the same quarter of 2013. The increase was a result of increased average debt after the drawdown of $50 million from our loan agreement with Diana Shipping Inc. and $6 million from our credit facility with RBS in August and September 2013 respectively and it's also attributable to increased average interest rate.

Turning to dividend policy for the first quarter of 2014, the Board of Directors have decided to declare dividends of $0.05 per share.

Thank you for your attention. We would be pleased to respond to your questions 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. We will now be conducting a question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions). Our first question comes from the line of Donald McLee with Wells Fargo. Please proceed with your question.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Hey guys. How is it going?

Symeon Palios

Hi, good morning.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

So just talk about the dividend, it looks like it was relatively secure over the next couple of quarters following some of your recent sale and purchase activity. How does that currently reflect your outlook for the container market say over the next 12 months?

Andreas Michalopoulos

Hi, this is Andreas speaking Donald. You see the ability of the company to pay that dividend, you correctly pointed out that it was secured for the next quarter. However, we have realized that the thought that we were yielding 16% was not something that the company considered to be a yield for our company. In other words, we were paying out lots of cuts to our shareholders. And such very big outflow cut considering that there are plenty of opportunities out there for vessels to be purchased at a very good price, but not being able to support this type of a dividend. We had to make this difficult decision and make sure that we have a necessary cut and be there to buy vessels that we consider to be very good active plays and then not trying to attract more and more capital, something more and more equity, something that we [failed] to do by having this handsome dividend. We think that by doing that, we will eventually create value for our shareholders having purchased nicely priced vessels and not just limiting our target group with expensive vessels with a very nice cash flow. Even that process has started becoming more and more difficult and we were not in a position to find really attractive vessels as a result of the cash flow that we’re producing.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Okay. That makes sense. And just I guess for some of the size range you’re targeting for the -- that you’re going to use the savings from the dividend, is there specific vessel site or a vessel size?

Symeon Palios

The vessels that we have said that we like they’re the medium type of vessels. We like the 5,000 plus TEU vessels and below 9,000 and this is going to be our main target.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Got you. And then additional question on the ATM, how much do you have outstanding on that?

Andreas Michalopoulos

On the ATM, we have about $22.3 million outstanding but of course you understand that we will reevaluate that ATM accordingly.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Got it. Yes and that was my second question, just would you look at potentially expanding that as you look to acquire additional vessels?

Andreas Michalopoulos

You see, it depends on the pricing of our stock. As we said earlier, we were not able to have the stock at the price that makes sense to raise more equity and we have to wait and see that before we will be in a position to comment on the ATM.

Donald McLee - Wells Fargo

Alright, thanks. That’s helpful. That’s all my questions guys.

Ed Nebb

Thanks, Donald.


(Operator Instructions). Our next question comes from the line of Kevin Sterling with BB&T. Please proceed with your question.

Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Thank you. Good afternoon gentlemen.

Symeon Palios

Hello Kevin. Good morning.

Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Hey, you guys you have been relatively quiet for the last month or so in terms of vessel acquisitions; is that a function of just waiting for the right opportunity, lack of opportunities in the market or maybe waiting for a better foothold in the recovery? And now with the dividend cut, it sounds like you’re looking -- it sounds like on the surface maybe you are looking to kind of unleash some of that cash to grow your fleet. How should we think about vessel acquisitions here in the near-term; are we getting close?

Symeon Palios

You are correct; we were not in a position to find vessels that were going to be supporting our [handsome] as I said earlier, dividend. And although we were looking very actively to find projects that were going to help the sustainability and visibility of the dividend and that proven to be almost impossible and this is why you should expect that now to come out in the market and try to find vessels as I said earlier have active results of their price and not their cash flow at the moment with big potentials of increasing their value as the market moves as Mr. Margaronis said earlier to that position.

Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Okay. Thank you, [Eleni]. And as I think about your strategy with the charter market, I believe you have one vessel that’s up for charter in the coming weeks. Were you being looking to secure something short-term or longer term for that vessel?

Eleni Leontari

I will say, we will go for a shorter term than anything else by charter maybe anything in between six and a year, six months and a year.

Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Okay. Thank you, Eleni. And then last question here; looks like you took a much smaller loss of a sale of a vessel this quarter compared to previous sales. Is this a sign that second hand market has strengthened or just more of a impairment charge maybe a lot lower?

Andreas Michalopoulos

No, I think it was the second function you have, we had already a good example with the previous vessel we had sold that was sort of similar vessel, so we managed to have that impairment charge better putting out on the fourth quarter of 2013.

Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Okay, got you Andreas. So it’s not necessarily strengthened second hand market just lower fair returns?

Andreas Michalopoulos


Kevin Sterling - BB&T

Okay. Thanks so much for your time today.

Andreas Michalopoulos

Thank you, Kevin.


We have reached the end of the question-and-answer session. I would now like to turn the floor back over to management for closing comments.

Symeon Palios

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


Ladies and gentlemen, this does conclude today’s teleconference. You may disconnect your lines at this time. Thank you for your participation. And have a wonderful day.

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