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The maritime sector is hot. It's been hot for a couple of years now, but as world trade continues to grow, profits continue to grow. Greek shipping giant Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd (NYSE:TNP) now has 53 tankers, out of which 23 ice-class tankers.

True, there might not be much ice in Greek waters, but there certainly is a growing demand for ice-class tankers in Northern waters. Especially North and East of Russia at least for the coming ten years the demand for ships to transport oil & oil products will grow substantially. With an average vessel age of five years and a bit, Tsakos Energy Navigation [TEN] certainly is well-equipped for this period of growth.

With a fleet that's more than doubled in five years and with net income having increased fifty times, one might argue that TEN is already too far in its growth cycle. But the opposite is true. Let's have a look at the stock's valuation. At a current share price of USD 63.50, TEN trades at a little over six times last year's earnings. This is already very low compared to the industry average of 16, but especially when considering that its 5-year EPS growth rate is almost double that of the industry, one has to come to the conclusion that this is a chance of a lifetime.

Critics are sceptical as ice class tonnage has increased rapidly during the past five years and some are afraid of overtonnage. Charter rates are therefore expected to be somewhat lower in the coming years until supply and demand are in balance again. It must be said though that TEN has built up a reputation of being one of the leaders in ice-class and also of knowing how to keep costs under control.

I think that the fears are overrated and that at the current valuation, the potential rewards outweigh the company's risk profile and I therefore consider this stock a very attractive one. I add Tsakos Energy Navigation to my list of stock picks at a price of USD 63.50 with a one-year price target of USD 90.

Full Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author did not have a position in the above-mentioned stock.

TNP 1-yr. chart:

TNP Investment

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