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Eagle Bulk Shipping Inc. (NASDAQ:EGLE)

Q2 2012 Earnings Call

August 9, 2012, 08:30 am ET

Executives

Sophocles Zoullas - Chairman & CEO

Adir Katzav - CFO

Analysts

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Natasha Boyden - Global Hunter

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

Urs Dur - Lazard Capital Markets

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Operator

Good day ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the Eagle Bulk Shipping Incorporated reports second quarter 2012 results conference call. My name is Ann and I will be your coordinator for today's call. As a reminder, this conference is being recorded for replay purposes. At this time, all participants are in listen-only mode. (Operator instructions) We will be facilitating a question-and-answer session following the presentation.

I would now like to turn the presentation over to your host for today’s call, Mr. Sophocles Zoullas, Chairman and CEO. Please proceed, sir.

Sophocles Zoullas

Thank you and good morning. I would like to welcome everyone to Eagle Bulk Shipping's second quarter 2012 earnings call. To supplement our remarks today, I encourage participants to access slide presentation that is available on our website at www.eagleships.com.

Please note that part of our discussion today will include forward-looking statements. These statements are not guarantees of future performance and are inherently subject to risk and uncertainties. You should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. We refer all of you to our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a more detailed discussion of the risks and uncertainties that may have a direct bearing on our operating results, our performance and our financial condition.

Please note on slide three the agenda for today’s call will be as follows: I will review our second quarter 2012 results and highlights. We’ll then proceed with an update of our commercial operations and finally present our current views on the market. Our CFO Adir will then give an overview of our financials before we open the call to questions.

Please turn to slide five for a review of our financial results and highlights. The dry bulk market remained in a depressed state during the second quarter with peak order book deliveries continuing unabated; weaker than expected demand in the period added further to the existing negative sentiment, as did the recently enacted export ban on minerals from Indonesia.

Newbuilding deliveries during the second quarter totaled a record 32 million deadweight tons or almost 390 vessels. This represents an increase of approximately 7% over the first quarter and almost 34% year-over-year.

On the demand side, lower global appetite for steel and in turn iron ore put a damper on the major bulks and overall short-term trade outlook. In May, Indonesia imposed a ban on mineral exports which effectively halted nickel ore and bauxite cargos.

Turning to Eagle Bulk, the company reported a net loss of $23.1 million or $1.46 per share for the second quarter of 2012. Earnings for the period were primarily impacted by the depressed spot market. Net revenue for the quarter was $48.5 million and EBITDA for the quarter amounted to $10 million and fleet utilization remained at an impressive level of close to 99.5%. Overall, the second quarter of 2012 remained extremely challenging for the dry bulk market as peak supply growth continued to heavily outweigh demand.

Finally, as we previously announced on June 20th, we reached a comprehensive agreement with our lenders which effectively amended the terms of our debt and has provided us with a greatly improved ability to navigate through the trough of the shipping cycle without compromising our ability to benefit when the market does emerge from the cyclical downturn.

Please turn to slide six for a summary of our amended loan terms. The $1.1 billion of debt outstanding under our previous facility has been amended into a term loan. In addition, we have secured a liquidity facility in the amount of $20 million. This amount is currently undrawn and available.

Maturity has been extended to December 2015 and subject to certain conditions, the company maintains the option to extend maturity by a further 18 months to June 2017. The amended loan contains a quarterly cash sweep on amounts above $20 million with no fixed amortization until maturity.

Cash interest margin over LIBOR is 350 basis points and the loan will also bear a non-cash PIK interest component of 250 basis points. The credit agreement allows for margin to be reduced with lower leverage.

In addition, the company issued warrants to lending group equal to 19.9% of shares outstanding. One-third of the warrants are exercisable immediately, one-third when the stock price reaches $10 and the last third exercisable when the stock reaches $12. All expenses relating to the transaction will be amortized over the life of loan.

To summarize, we are very pleased to have reached a favorable outcome with our lenders. We believe our amended loan gives us the required flexibility; low cash interest margin and no fixed amortization to help us better manage the current challenging freight market and position the company and its shareholders to benefit from the shipping cycle recovery. I would like to thank our lending group for their cooperation in reaching this new agreement and for their ongoing support of the company.

I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank Alan Ginsberg, our outgoing CFO for his efforts on getting this and many other deals done and seeing it through until completion. I also thank Alan for his dedication and devotion to the company over the last 7.5 years and wish him the best of luck in his new endeavors.

Please turn to slide eight for an update on our commercial operations. Eagle Bulk fleet currently stands 45 vessels, comprised of 43 Supermaxes and 2 Handymaxes and it considered one of the largest, most homogenous in the industry with an average age of only 5.2 years.

As we have explained in the past, we employ an opportunistic and dynamic approach to chartering, utilizing a mixture of long-term time charters, contract of affreightment or COAs, short-term voyages and index charters. Given the continued weak period market, we remain short in tenure until there is a further improvement in normalization in charter rates.

As of June 30, 2012, our current chartering position for the remainder of the year is as follows: 42% of our fleet is either fixed on Timecharter or currently performing COA business. 13% is indexed to the Baltic Supramax Index or BSI, and 45% is open.

On slide nine, we illustrate Eagle Bulk’s cargos for the second quarter. Our fleet carried $4.7 million tons of cargo during the quarter, up 26% year-on-year. Growth in cargos carried is primarily attributed to the increase in our vessel capacity over the previous year. We moved a record $1.6 million tons of coal during the period, representing 32 voyages and an increased of 50% sequentially. We primarily carried coal from Indonesia, destined for both China and India, but we also moved products from South Africa and the US Gulf.

Iron ore cargos were down 47% sequentially to total 270,000 tons. We attribute this decrease to recent weakness in steel demand and high iron ore inventories. In total, we carried over 20 different cargoes during the quarter, this can be attributed to the supermaxes’ known versatility and being able to load and discharge cargo using on board equipment, for being able to navigate in smaller ports and for its optimal size in matching cargo stamps.

We maintain that these attributes are the main reasons why the supermax continues to outperform larger asset classes during the weak market. Please turn to slide 11 for review of the industry fundamentals. Although the severe market weakness experienced during the first quarter has abated general trade weakness persist due to high supply of growth, decreased global steel demand and more recently worries over the US graph which has pushed commodity prices higher and led grain buyers of US product to hold back.

Supermax has continued to outperform in the depressed market with spot rates currently trading at $10,103 per day versus $6,921 per [Tandem] access and only $4,596 for Capesize. Supermax out-performance is attributed to its diversified trade and the study demand characteristics for minor box versus major box.

Although the global spot average for supermax is currently at over $10,000 per day; the spread between regions had widened over recent months. On the bottom right hand corner of slide 11, we depict the supermax spot north specific rate as represented by the [BSIS II] rate and its discount to the supermax global spot average as represented by the [BSI]. You will notice that the North specific rates fell in May with its discount to the global average widening.

This is attributed to Indonesia enacting an export ban on minerals in May. The all important nickel ore trade between Indonesia and China was using over 10 supermaxes a month. We believe it may take a little while until the geographic distribution of the global supermax fleet normalizes and in turn the Pacific rate discount shrinks.

On slide 12, we take a detailed look on current supply dynamics. As we just discussed earlier, new building supply growth remains at high levels with deliveries are peaking and the order book continues to shrink. New orders in dry book are down 61% year-on-year. The main reasons for this include the depressed rate environment and the relative attractiveness of second hand vessel prices.

A lack of financing also plays a big role. European banks which are the traditional lenders to the shipping industry continue to downsize their books and adopt stricter lending standards restricting credit availability. The order book as a percent of the fleet outstanding has come off over 70% since peaking in 2008 and will continue to run off significantly over the next two years.

Slippage and cancellations for the sub Capesize segment remain at 35 plus percent and we believe it will continue to run at these levels. It is rumored that many shipyards located in China are facing bankruptcy due to difficulty financing their current operations and booking new business.

Please turn to slide 13 for an update on vessel demolition. Approximately, 23 million deadweight tonnes have been scraped so far this year. Although, scrap prices have come off in recent months from almost $500 per lightweight ton at the end of 2011 to under $400 per ton today, following the decline in steel prices, we believe the depressed earnings environment will continue to drive owners of older tonnage to sell their ships for demolition.

Assuming the current scraping pace continues, we project that over 31 million deadweight tonnes will be scrapped this year which would make 2012 another record year.

There are approximately 1,400 vessels which are over 25 years of age. On the right hand side of the slide, we depict the current profile of the dry bulk fleet age by asset class. The sub Panamax segment is by far the oldest both in terms to number of vessels and as a percent of fleet which is just over 16%.

Please turn to slide 14 for a discussion of the short to medium term demand fundamentals for the dry bulk industry.

Factors which will hold back recovery in the short-term include a slowdown in Chinese and Indian growth, ongoing uncertainty surrounding the European sovereign debt crisis, stagnation in the US, higher iron ore inventories in China, which are currently hovering around 100 million tonnes, increased Chinese hydropower output, which alleviates the need to import seaborne coal, Indonesian export on raw materials and the US drought.

Catalyst which will positively affect demand include increased combination by central banks, spring global liquidity, a resolution in the euro zone which will improve investor and consumer confidence and commodity restocking driven by lower prices.

On slide 15, we discuss the long-term demand fundamental for coal and iron ore. Our thesis has not changed and we continue to view the fundamentals as strong especially for coal. Global urbanization as depicted in the top right hand corner chart is expected to drive increased long-term demand for dry bulk.

Minor bulks and agricultural trades are projected to grow at a respectable long-term average of 3% to 5%. Steel production is projected to increase 40% by 2020 leading to increased demand for both iron ore and metallurgical coal.

Over 370 gigawatts of new coal fire power capacity is expected to come on line by 2016. To put this in perspective, this equates to over 1.2 billion tonnes in incremental coal demand that will primarily be sourced from Indonesia and Australia. On the bottom right hand corner, we depict historical and projected Indian and Chinese coal imports; the scale of growth in this trade is massive. Combined imports are projected to reach almost 600 million tonnes by 2016.

To summarize, we believe that short to medium term fundamentals for dry bulk remain weak but we do see a gradual improvement occurring as net supply growth moderates and dry bulk demand fundamentals for the long-term are even better. I will now turn over the call to Adir who will review our financial performance.

Adir Katzav

Thank you, Soph. Please turn to slide 17. I would like to provide a summary on our second quarter results of operations. Our net revenues for the quarter were $48.5 million compared to $76.4 million for the second quarter of 2011. The year-to-year decline in revenue is primarily due to lower charter rates and a decrease in voyage chart revenues.

In addition, we did not charter in any vessel days during the quarter compared to 629 days during the second quarter of 2011. Our operating loss for the quarter was $11 million compared to operating income of $10.3 million in 2011. EBITDA as adjusted for exceptional items is [signing] out credit agreement was $10 million for the quarter compared to $28.8 million last year. Net loss for the quarter was $23.1 million or $1.46 per share.

Please turn to slide 18. Our cash at the end of the quarter was $17.1 million as Soph mentioned earlier in the call; the amended loan requires a quarterly cash sweep above $20 million.

Please turn to slide 19 for estimated cash breakeven. All the estimated are per ship vessel per day for the second half of 2012. Our projected daily vessels operating cost is estimated at $5,103. Our technical management fees paid to our vessel managers are estimated at $319. Our estimated G&A cash expenses for the second half of 2012 is $1,214. We estimated that our interest expenses, net of interest income is $3,026. This figure takes into consideration a margin of 3.5% over LIBOR.

Finally, we are focusing a (inaudible) cost of approximately $145. Our total expected cash costs for the second half of 2012 is $9,807 per vessel per day. This concludes our presentation. Now I will return the call to the operator to take your questions.

Question-and-Answer Session

Operator

Thank you. (Operator Instructions) And our first question comes from the line of Natasha Boyden with Global Hunter.

Natasha Boyden - Global Hunter

So obviously can't really understand why you have regarded the fleet on open charges right now and that makes a lot of sense, but what rate would you have to start paying to putting ships (inaudible).

Sophocles Zoullas

Natasha we couldn’t hear you very well. So I will just repeat the question to make sure I got it. Was the question what kind of rate do I need to see to want to put the ships on longer term charter?

Natasha Boyden - Global Hunter

Yeah, that's exactly it.

Sophocles Zoullas

Okay. Basically let me start by saying I think that we are in the trough of the cycle right now with Capes at $4,500 a day up to Supermax is doing somewhere between $7,000 and $12,000. I think we are I think we’re at the bottom. So being consistent with that, I think we want to wait until we see charter rates effectively double from where they are, which will still be about a third below what the ten-year average is for these assets.

So even if they double to say, 15,000 to 16,000, you're still running below $5,000 a day below their 10-year averages. So I think that’s the mark we're looking for.

Natasha Boyden - Global Hunter

Okay, so you gave a lot of sort of longer-term outlook in inflation in presentation which is great, but what is your kind of just your feeling based on your experience in your business as to when we could possibly see a turnaround in this industry? I mean is it late 2013, do we have to wait, kind of what are your views on that?

Sophocles Zoullas

I'll answer the question from a shipping perspective and then factors outside shipping. From a shipping perspective, if you look at supply and demand fundamentals, there should be a very meaningful recovery starting when the order book runs off effectively at about 12 months from now.

Demand is reasonable and we’ve passed the peak of the heavy supply and in a weak freight environment, there is no ordering and with tight financing, there is very little financing for new ordering even if there was demand to order new ships. Also second hand prices are low, so that there is the opportunity for owners to buy second hand rather than order new.

However, there are a couple of wildcards that could tell things to the positive or to the negative and these are, I would say, markers outside of shipping. So the markers that we identify are A, what happens in Europe with sovereign crisis in the euro zone, what will happen post US election in November here and what’s it impact will be on liquidity and global trade.

And thirdly what will happen in about six months time with the change of guard in the Chinese governance. So those three markers, all which I think will have better visibility on by the end of the year will ultimately give everyone the ability to fine-tune their projections on a dry bulk recovery.

Natasha Boyden - Global Hunter

Okay, great thank you. Just a couple more. What are your thoughts on the concerns that Chinese shipyard will continue to make dry bulk vessels to support the government and needs to keep employment high, can you just talk a little bit about that?

Sophocles Zoullas

Sure, that’s the same thesis I had heard that was batted around in the 1980s with Japan. It was done a little bit not really in great number; it was also the same thing I heard that Korean yards were going to do in the late 90s, that really never came to pass so much. Look we have been in effectively the downturn of the dry bulk market since Q4 of 2008.

So it’s been a protracted downturn, we had about a nine month hiatus when there was a liquidity infused recovery about a year after Q4 of 2008, but my view is shipyard prices in China have come down considerably, but also a number of shipyards have also gone bankrupt.

So we have not seen in -- call it a 3.5 years since this depression started in shipping the widespread Chinese governmental support for their shipyards that’s been rumored to happen, we have seen it happening. So I think it’s going to happen on a small-scale basis, but net, net I think you are going to see many more shipyards close or convert into other facilities rather than support for shipyards by the Chinese government.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Michael Webber with Wells Fargo.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

So just a couple of questions and the first one I wanted to follow up on one of Natasha’s, but maybe just kind of coming at it in a different way, with the cash we've been placed which is something that was probably to be expected given the length and kind of the encompassing nature of the refi package, does that change in anyway the way you guys think about potentially adding long-term employment. I mean if kind of your equity exposure to a recovery over the very near term is limited, does that impact the way you guys think about chartering assets in anyway?

Sophocles Zoullas

No, not at all. We try and keep the chartering as purely market driven by what we believe is the best and most opportunistic way to employ our ships to maximize dollars.

So I think the fact that we were seeing shortened tenure which we touched on a little bit with Natasha and also in the remarks during the slide presentation is that it’s a factor of how weak and how low charter rates are and that's really the only driver that makes decisions on how we deploy our fleet.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

So I didn't see in the decker in the release, but within the refi package, you can extend the maturity with a two-year conditional extension option. Have you guys given what the conditions are to that extension option or can you maybe provide some color to that and maybe there's something we are missing.

Adir Katzav

We have I would say one matured condition is loan to value of 80% by the end of 2015.

Sophocles Zoullas

Which we think is actually very reasonable. So that’s the marker.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

And then one more for me and I'll turn it over. You guys had a couple of filings hitting the wire earlier this month regarding some option grants. And A, I just wanted to check if those are split adjusted or not. And then it looks like they've got four separate vesting periods, one of which was in June and it doesn’t look like they hit your share count this quarter, just curious as to what we should expect for Q3?

Adir Katzav

Because one-fourth of the option is vested immediately, we recognized approximately 25% of the fair value of the option during this quarter. You will expect to get to have less during the next quarter. So, we approximately recognized $750,000 during this quarter and approximately you will have about 50% of that in the next quarter.

And you will have all those details in the 10-Q that we will publish after today after market hours.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

But are those split adjusted or no?

Adir Katzav

No, they are not.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

So that’s really, it's like 5.6 million shares.

Adir Katzav

No, no. The total is – you speak about the option or the warrants?

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

The options.

Adir Katzav

The options? It's 1.6 million.

Michael Webber - Wells Fargo

I think actually they are split adjusted to the split.

Sophocles Zoullas

Right.

Adir Katzav

Yes.

Operator

And our next question comes from the line of Urs Dur with Clarkson Capital Markets [Lazard Capital Markets]. Please proceed

Urs Dur - Lazard Capital Markets

I know you mentioned some on the call and in the presentation particularly the impact of the taxes in Indonesia which has been an interesting subject for number of months now. But it does apply if you look at your topline revenue in the 45 ships that looks so little bit below say published averages and I know there is a lot of tweaks in public averages. But can you discuss little bit about the positioning of your ships and were any ships caught out in poor locations over the quarter and can you expect the average rate for your ships to maybe adjust and improve now that things are a bit more normalized?

Sophocles Zoullas

Urs you have hit a very topical question for us this quarter and I am sure you noticed in the presentation we put a graph that clearly addresses that point that you raised. What we notice now in the Supramax market more than I have seen in a long, long time is the huge disparity in rates depending on where the ships are open; just I want to give people little bit of a background here so everyone can understand what I am talking about more than what was in the presentation.

Urs Dur - Lazard Capital Markets

I mean you are referring to slide 11 correct?

Sophocles Zoullas

Yes; if you have a ship that’s in Europe and you charter it for the Far East, she is worth about $20,000 today. If you have a ship that’s open in the US Gulf and wants to go to Europe, that’s worth about $14,000 a day. If you have a ship that’s open in East Coast India and is going to China, that’s worth only $5,500 a day. If you have a ship that's in the Far East and wants to go back to Europe, that's worth only $2,900 a day.

So your question is very topical to what's going on in the market. We probably have I would say over two-thirds of our ships right now in the Pacific, so they are getting Pacific rates and that's why its important when people try to understand the dry bulk market to not look necessarily at the BSI, the BPI for Panamaxes or the BCI for Capes, but to try and really understand how these things trade to get a better sense on, is the company performing relative to the market, because I think specifically with the Supermaxes the BSI skews people’s opinions that the ships are performing better than the market because you have really two out of say seven major traits primarily continent of Far East and US Gulf to Far East, it skews the average artificially high.

Urs Dur - Lazard Capital Markets

And I agree with that and I think it’s good for people to understand that. Just a rate disparity; typically when you have such an arbitrage like that markets tend to balance out a little bit?

Sophocles Zoullas

Yes, and that's what we expect usually when you get this kind of a disparity, we've noticed that the time lag to have a normalizing effect as long as the disparity continues which encourages owners to ballast into the better market or to take low paying cargoes to get into high paying areas, it usually takes about 60 to 90 days. So if a ship is open say in India or in China and the owner wants to just ballast her into say Argentina or Brazil that's like 30 day ballast just steaming her around with no revenue and figure that, that’s going to cost the owners somewhere between $600,000 to $750,000 to reposition the ship.

If you take a low paying cargo, the option would be something like I mentioned before, you take the cargo from the Far East and go to Europe but that’s going to be sort of 75 days at $2,900 a day. So take your choice of medicine. You know, you either get there faster and go a month with no revenues and expenses ballasting in fuel cost, or you take a low paying cargo but it takes you double the time to get there.

Urs Dur - Lazard Capital Markets

Just a little bit of housekeeping. I know that you mentioned per ship per day G&A. Overall, corporate G&A where we looking at going forward was there some G&A involved with all of the challenging work that you guys did on your debt restructure and can we expect a little bit of a drop in G&A going forward or should we just assume current run rate.

Sophocles Zoullas

The G&A wasn’t specific to the deal. I think it was more other factors that again normalize over the year but our G&A in line with our forecast and if you're excluding non-cash expenses, we’ve $1.9 million provisions for bad debt and $2.8 million non-cash amortization; you will be in line with forecast.

Operator

Your next question comes from the line of Chris Wetherbee with Citi. Please proceed.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Question about a little about the chartering strategy and how it kind of relates back to your expenses, I just wanted to get a sense I know you gave us the breakdown of what was time chart or what was the spot, what we was the [fee] away. I guess within that specifically can you give us an idea of what you are moving for your own account, I guess using your trading operations which you have built up over the last couple of years, it seems like there was decent amount of vessels at least on a per day basis deployed in that type of environment, I just want to get a sense of what that is and then within your overall chattering breakdown if you could give us that level of detail and then maybe how I think about the potential for voyage expenses relative to the cash breakeven costs you have given us to. Just trying to figure out how that employment strategy plays out in the cost structure?

Sophocles Zoullas

Sure, the cargos that we have typically moved in and out of in terms of our COA business have been sand and coal. But was your question also what kind of performance have those COAs generated?

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Well I guess you give us I think 42% time charter which I believe includes also your COAs. So I just want to get a sense of maybe what the breakdown within that is and is there any COA in the spot 45% as well when I look at the total employment of the fleet?

Sophocles Zoullas

No the COA is in the fix, the COA is in the fixed and basically I will give you a bandwidth somewhere say between 9,000 and 15,000 a day.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Okay and of the 42% that’s fixed is most of that COA at this point?

Sophocles Zoullas

No, it varies but we don’t give the exact breakout.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Okay, that’s helpful and as you think about how you will deploy your fleet using COAs is there some incremental costs that we can kind of assume when you think about your cash breakeven because clearly there is some voyage expense that you could incur in that type of business that would be I guess above and beyond may be vessel OpEx. I am just trying to get a sense of that relative to the 98.07 you gave us for your cash breakeven?

Sophocles Zoullas

The way to think about it is the number I gave you the sort of $9,000 to $15000 a day result on what the COAs generally generate, that is a TCE, so that nets out the expenses.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Okay so that’s helpful, so then we should still be thinking about that business in the same breakeven basis as the rest of your business.

Sophocles Zoullas

Yeah the only thing of course that I want point out to everyone is that COAs are different than time charters in that if there is congestion in the port or you know you are more subject to the vagaries of the voyage than if you are on time charter although you do get paid demurrage or you do have to pay dispatch if the ship runs long or runs late.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

Yes so it's not fully take or pay. There is some risk in there, but it is mitigated by demurrage or some of those potential fees.

Sophocles Zoullas

Exactly.

Chris Wetherbee - Citi

And then I just and I know you guys will file the Q later on today. I guess I just wanted to get a sense of how we should be thinking about the non-cash comp expense going forward? Can you just give us a little color on advances or how we should think about that going forward?

Adir Katzav

May be we can do it offline its details.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, with no further questions, this concludes today’s question-and-answer-session. I would now like to turn the call back over to Sophocles Zoullas for closing remarks.

Sophocles Zoullas

Then I would like to thank everyone again for joining us for our second quarter 2012 earnings call and we look forward to keeping you updated of new developments in the future.

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, we thank you for your participation in today's conference. This concludes the presentation and you may now disconnect. Have a good day.

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