Diana Containerships' (DCIX) CEO Symeon Palios on Q2 2015 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

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Diana Containerships Inc. (NASDAQ:DCIX) Q2 2016 Earnings Conference Call July 27, 2016 9:00 AM ET


Ed Nebb - IR Advisor

Symeon Palios - Chairman & CEO

Anastasios Margaronis - President

Andreas Michalopoulos - CFO

Ioannis Zafirakis - COO & Secretary


Kevin Sterling - BB&T Capital Markets


Greetings, and welcome to the Diana Containerships Incorporated 2016 Second Quarter Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] As a reminder, this conference is being recorded.

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

Ed Nebb

Thank you Donna, and thanks to all of you for joining us on the Diana Containerships second quarter conference call. The members of the management team who are with us 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.

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 and beliefs as to future events that may or 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 to review the performance of Diana Containerships, Inc. for the second quarter of 2016. The extremely difficult conditions in the container shipping market persisted during the additional quarter. Our Stewarts or our shareholders investment in the company, we have continued to manage our operations and financial resources in a prudent manner during this period.

To review our financial results, the company reported a net loss of $8 million for the second quarter of 2016, this compares to a net income of $49 million for the respective period of 2015. Time charter revenues net of prepaid charter revenues amortizations were $8 million for the second quarter of 2016 compared to $17.3 million for the same period of 2015. The difference was mainly due to reduced employment opportunities and lower time charter rates, partly offset by an increase in ownership days resulting from the enlargement of our fleet.

At June 30, 2016 the company had approximately $28 million in available and research forecast and nearly $226 million in stockholders equity on its balance sheet. Our fleet is time chartered to some of the industry's leading container lines with coverage for approximately 57% of the days in 2016 and approximately 3% of the days in 2017 providing a stable revenue stream. The contracted growth revenue of the fleets including the first six months of 2016 and onwards is approximately $31.7 million.

The company completed a reverse stock split of its common shares at a ratio of 1.48 effective as of the opening of trading on June 9, 2016. As I noted earlier, we believe it is important to be a good stewards of our shareholders investment and of our financial resources. In this regard the Board of Directors has determined that based on the current container vessel charter market it will suspend the quarterly confusion on the common share effectively the quarter ended June 30, 2016. This decision reflects the determination that it is in the best long-term interest of the company and the shareholders to aggressively preserve liquidity to manage current market conditions and be in a position to benefit from an eventual sector recovery.

Now I would 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 good morning to all the participants of this mid-summer conference call of Diana Containerships. There is no doubt as mentioned earlier by our Chairman and CEO that the containership market has been very weak during the first half of 2016. Even after the beginning of the container hi-feed charter rates did not react as expected due to the large number of ships which were in layout and were reactivated as a result of increased inquiry.

Starting with the macroeconomic news, according to Maersk Broker, data released in June by China indicate that the Chinese economy is stabilizing as investor production for May rose 6% year-over-year while retail sales increased 10% year-over-year in May. Chinese exports have been affected by a number of measures taken in countries overseas to support domestic markets. The Chinese government has taken action during 2016 to stimulate activity in China's economy and trade status that it will continue to implement policies in order to further support Chinese trade.

In the United States, the Commerce Department announced that the GDP growth an annual rate of 1.1% during the first quarter of 2016, up from an earlier estimate of 0.8% per annum. According to Braemar ACM, economist currently expects the second quarter growth in 2016 to be close to 2.4% per annum. The Commerce Department also announced that U.S. retail sales went up by 0.5% in May of this year after increasing by 1.3% in April. According to Maersk Broker, recent data for the euro area indicated some improvement; consumer confidence increased in May compared to April, and business confidence increased from 0.15 in April to 0.26 in May. The retail PMI jumped from 47.9 in April to 50.6 in May.

According to an Alphaliner, Brexit is not expected to have a direct impact on the containership industry. Britain's market share of global container volumes is only 1.4%. The UK's share of European container throughput has declined during the last 15 years from 13.9% to 8.9% in 2015. In the short-term, UK imports are expected to be negatively affected by the strong depreciation of the British pound against other major currencies. This will mainly affect imports from Asia and it will put additional pressure on the fragile recovery of the Asia to Europe trade.

Let's turn to tonnage supply now. According to Clarkson Plateau, strong demolition levels and limited deliveries have restricted fleet growth in terms of capacity to just point 0.9% year-to-date through the end of May. Full year containership fleet growth is projected to reach just 3.9% in 2016 compared to 8.1% in 2015. Alphaliner provides a slightly lower full projected year growth figure of 3.6%. The mid-size fleet of container vessels continues to shrink.

According to Braemar ACM in 2015 the fleet of 3,000 to 4,000 TEU vessel decreased by 0.1% and the current order book represents only 7.5% of the current capacity in service. The fleet of 4,000 to 5,100 TEU ships in service decreased from 0.6% during the same period and the order book represents an insignificant 0.8% of the current capacity in service. In the 5,100 to 7,500 TEU sized bracket, the fleet grew by only 1.4% in 2015 and the current order book is a mere 2.2% of the current capacity in service. The problems starts creeping in the statistics with the 7,500 to 10,000 TEU vessels where the fleet increased by 16.9% last year but at least the order book is a very modest 5.6% of the existing fleet.

As we will mention later on, Braemar's estimate is lower, the difference is probably due to the way optional orders are treated. Needless to say the big problem comes in the 10,000 plus size range where the fleet grew by a massive 24.3% last year and the order book stands at just under 65% of the existing fleet. This anomaly created exclusively by the large liner operators has been haunting the containership markets for the last three years and will unfortunately be with us for a while longer but let's look at demand now. According to Clarkson's following a considerable slowdown in global container trade growth in 2015 trade volumes are expected to expand 3.8% in the full year 2016.

Peak leg container trade on the Asia to Europe route is currently projected to grow by 3.4% in 2016. On the Trans Pacific route, peak leg box volumes are expected to continue growing at a rate of 4.6% this year. Overall, main lane trade is projected to increase 3.3% in 2016 and reach 53 million TEU. Non-main lane box trade which grew at an estimated 3.1% in 2015 is expected to grow by 4% in 2016 and reach a total of 128.9 million TEU. Growth in intra-regional trade was limited by turbulence in the Chinese economy and negative trends in other Asian countries last year. This is expected to pick up to 4% in 2016 following growth of just 3% in 2015.

Let's look at scrapping now. According to Braemar ACM during the first two quarters of 2016 106,000 TEU worth of container vessel capacity in the 5,100 to 7,500 TEU sized brackets were sold for scrap. And then another 107,000 TEU in the 4,000 to 5,100 TEU size bracket also headed for the breakers. According to Braemar ACM again, during the first quarter of 2016 the average size of vessel sold for demolition went up from 2,200 TEU during the whole of 2015 to 3,400 TEU while the average age dropped from 22.8 years to 19.4 years. The estimate at around 480,000 TEU could exit the fleet this year presenting fleet reduction of 2.4% of the trading fleet as of January 1, 2016.

According to Maersk Broker, a higher number of about 590,000 TEU's expected to be sold for demolition this year and a further 420,000 TEU in 2017. These numbers if they materialize will certainly go a long way and restoring some sort of balance between supply and demand going forward.

Let's look at this possible balance. According to Clarkson, as mentioned earlier in 2016 the rate of fleet expansion is expected to slow and approximately match the rate of demand growth. This more even supply demand balance could ease some of the pressure on the rates. Nevertheless, market conditions are expected to remain challenging. This is the first step in the restoration of a balanced market and if this trend continues or intensifies the return to the balanced market might not be so far away after all.

Turning to idle capacity; according to Alphaliner, on the May 30 there were 256 ships with an aggregate capacity of 1,37,467 TEU laid up representing 5.1% of the existing fleet. This is still relatively high but is significantly lower than the same statistic in late March of this year when over 7% of the fleet was in lay-up.

Looking at freight rates now; in 2016 freight rates are expected to remain under pressures with developments on individual routes partly dependent on how operators manage capacity. The Singapore composite container freight index was down 4% during the first quarter this year compared to the last quarter of 2015. The Shanghai to north Europe freight rate averaged a dismal $422 per TEU during the first quarter of this year. In early June however this rate had recovered somewhat to $680 per TEU.

Freight rates on the Shanghai U.S. West Coast and Shanghai U.S. East Coast routes were amongst the lowest on record during March and April this year at around $725 per TEU and $1,448 per TEU respectively. Unfortunately these rates have not recovered significantly to-date. Alphaliner point out that so far this year the classic over Panamax segment of 5,000 to 7,500 TEU charter rate have failed to progress even though the number of spots vessel has halved from around 46 units in mid-April of this year to only 23 vessels as of July 1 this year again.

Turning to the Panama Canal, according to Clarksons Plateau, the new Panama Canal locks will eventually allow container ship size upto 13,500 TEU to trend the Panama Canal. Much of the existing 0.8 million TEU of Panamax capacity deployed on the Trans Pacific trade is expected to be gradually upside. However, the full upsizing of Panama services is expected to be a gradual process. One of the reasons is that only three U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports currently have channels with the 50 foot depth that these larger Post-Panamax vessels require.

Other dredging and infrastructure projects such as the raising of the value on bridge are a year or more from completion. So far Alphaliner reports six enhanced all water-loops connecting Asia to the U.S. East Coast by the Panama Canal have gotten underway. These loops used over Panamax and neo-Panamax ship are between 6,000 and 10,000 TEU. These six enhanced services replaced 9 current strings which so far used classic Panamax ships in the size class of 4,000 to 5,100 TEU.

Let's look at the new building order book. According to Braemar ACM ship broking, the current order book consists of 436 ships with a total capacity of 3.57 million TEU. This represents 17.9% of the current raising fleet in terms of capacity. According to Alphaliner there are 72 ships between 10,000 and 13,300 TEU on order representing 34.2% of the existing fleet. This year 28 such ships are scheduled to be delivered while in 2017 a further 32 such units are expected to join the trading fleet and a further 19 in 2018.

For the next size down of 7,500 to 10,000 TEU there are only 14 ships on order representing a mere 3.2% of the existing fleet. This year 24 ships are scheduled for delivery and a further two next years, there are no scheduled deliveries in 2018 and beyond. As for small post Panamax vessels between 5,100 and 7,500 TEU, there are only 15 ships on order representing 2.8% of the existing fleet; single unit is scheduled for delivery this year, six units for each of the following two years plus two later in 2019. As of Panamax advantage between 4,000 and 5,100 TEU there are only six units on order representing an insignificant 0.7% of the existing Panamax fleet. Three ships are scheduled for delivery this year followed by another four in 2017 and none beyond that year.

Let's look at current newbuilding ordering. According to Braemar ACM during the first five months of 2016 about 18 vessels have been ordered with a combined carrying capacity of 95,000 TEU equivalent to an average vessel capacity of 5,300 TEU. In the corresponding period in 2015, contracts for 67 newbuilding were placed with an average capacity of 9,900 TEU. Most of the ships ordered so far this year have been in 1,400 to 2,900 TEU size range. According to Maersk Broker ordering this year will not exceed 550,000 TEU and will not exceed 1,000,000 in 2017.

A quick look at slow seeming; according to Clarksons, slow steaming continues to be a key feature of the containership sector. Despite the relatively low bunker price environment there has been in significant increase in vessel speeds. The rock bottom freight rates have no doubt played a role in this. As for second hand tonnage, according to top-tier transport ship values have been declining steadily this year as there are generally more ships for sell than buyers. Top-tier expects prices to remain low for some time. The only positive sign here is that many liner companies appear as active buyers in the market, particularly for feeder vessels. This shows that fundamentally the liner operators think that ships are cheap and that in the medium and long-term they are a good investment. This is probably correct but time will tell.

Turning finally to the outlook for the industry; according to Clarksons research, overall supply growth on the Trans Pacific trade is expected to outpace demand in 2016. In 2017, deliveries of 8,000 to 12,000 TEU units are expected to slow while the chasing [ph] of the Far East to Europe trade may also ease provided that Trans Pacific trade remains firm, the supply-demand balance may improve in 2017.

According to Maersk Broker, after its charter rates should improve grow as fleet growth for the remainder of the year will almost certainly be negative. At the same time cargo volume growth should keep increasing. However, they do point out but there are quite a large number of vital vessels that will have to be fixed before charter rates improve significantly. Maersk Broker expects that the new alliances should have a positive effect on the market as more and larger corporations should mean upgrades of various feeder services in Asia in order to accommodate all the partners cargo volumes carried in the very large units.

It is certainly a very challenging business environment to operate container ships in. We are Diana Containerships ships, we try our best to navigate safely through the next few quarters by using the strength of our balance sheet and taking advantage of the attractive characteristics of our relatively modern fleet. The late winter low season will hopefully be followed by a summer and autumn season which may see fewer laid up vessels and the restructuring of routes by the new alliance as referred to above that will take greater advantage of the flexibility offered by the mid-sized sector vessels that are in the Diana Containerships fleet.

Eventually values should increase and we hope to be able to further grow the fleet before values move up significantly. Our efforts to maintain good relationships with the largest liner operators should bear fruit when the market starts recovering and liner companies start looking at longer charter periods at much more attractive charter rates than today.

I will now pass the call to our CFO, Andreas Michalopoulos who will provide you with the second quarter and first half financial highlights. 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 second quarter of 2016 and the six months ended June 30, 2016.

Second quarter of 2016 net loss of Diana Containerships Inc. amounted to $8 million and the loss per share amounted to $0.88. Time Charter revenues net of prepared charter revenue amortization amounted to $8 million compared to $17.3 million in 2015, the decrease in net time charter revenues was mainly due to decreased time charter rates and increased of higher days compared to the same period of 2015. Ownership days were 1,183 for the quarter compared to 1,153 in the same period of 2015.

Fleet utilization was 67.4% for the quarter compared to 98.7% for 2015 and the daily time charter equivalent rate was $5,979 compared to $14,992 in the second quarter of 2015. Voyage expenses were $0.9 million for the quarter compared to $0.4 million in the respective period of 2015. The increase is mainly attributable to bunkers costs we incurred while certain of our vessels were up higher during the second quarter of 2016. Vessel operating expenses amounted to $7.9 million in the second quarter of 2016 compared to $9.7 million for the same quarter of 2015. The decrease was attributable to the decrease of the average stores, spares and crew costs and was partly offset by the slight increase in the ownership days.

Daily operating expenses were $6,616 for the second quarter of 2016 compared to $8,381 in 2015. Depreciation and amortization of deferred charges amounted to $3.6 million for the quarter. General and administrative expenses were $1.9 million in the second quarter of 2016 compared to $1.4 million in respective period of 2015 mainly due to increased competition costs on restricted stock awards and brokerage fees. Interest and finance costs for the second quarter of 2016 amounted to $1.7 million, the same with respective period of 2015, mainly due to the increase of our average debt and simultaneous decrease in average interest rates after our loan refinance with RBS and the amendment of the VSI loan agreement in September 2015.

Turning now to the six months ended June 30, 2016. Net loss of Diana Containerships Inc. amounted to $13.8 million and the loss per share amounted to $1.51. Time charter revenues, net of prepaid charter revenue amortization amounted to $19.8 million compared to $31.2 million in 2015. The net time charter revenues decreased mainly due to the decreased time charter rates and increased of higher days, partly offset by the decreased prepaid charter revenue amortizations.

Ownership days were 2,434 in 2016 compared to 2,143 in 2015. Fleet utilization was 73.3% compared to 99.1% in 2015 and the daily time charter equivalent rate was $7,456 for the period compared to $14,727 for the same period of 2015. Voyage expenses were $2 million. Vessel operating expenses for the six months ended June 30, 2015 amounted to $16.8 million compared $18 million for the same period of 2015. This decrease was attributable to the decrease of the average stores and spares, and partly offset by increased taxes. Daily operating expenses were $6,893 for 2016 compared to $8,397 in the prior period. Depreciation and amortization of the surcharges amounted to $7.1 million.

General and administrative expenses amounted to $3.7 million. Loss on vessel sales amounted to $0.5 million and relates to the sale of the vessel [indiscernible] during 2016. Interest and finance costs amounted to $3.5 million for 2016 compared to $3.3 million for 2015. In 2016 we had increased average debt outstanding debt compared to 2015 and simultaneous decrease in average interest rates after our loan refinance with RBS and the amendment of the VSI loan agreement in September 2015.

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

Question-and-Answer Session


[Operator Instructions] Our first question is coming from Kevin Sterling of BB&T Capital Markets. Please proceed with your questions.

Kevin Sterling

Thank you, good afternoon. How many harder days did you have in the quarter and how many total vassals were off higher in the quarter?

Andreas Michalopoulos

We had the following vessels that were basically higher for a period during the quarter. So I can go through them if you want that I think it will be useful. For the entire quarter you had motor vessel March [ph] that was higher from April 1 until the April 11, you had motor vessel Domingo that was of higher. From April 1 to May 31 you had motor vessel Hamburg that was a higher. We can send you that information. From April 1 to May 17, Quelo [ph] was higher. For the entire quarter Pemina was higher. Then Pucorn [ph] was from June 1 to June 30 and that's for the quarter. Rotterdam was for a few days from April 15 to April 27 and motor vessel Great was from May 18 to June 30. So overall, we had 385 days of higher.

Kevin Sterling

Got you. Thank you, Andreas. That seems kind of high to me, is that -- am I reading that right? It seems maybe a little bit atypical of the number of all higher days for you guys in a quarter. Am I reading that right? Is that normal?

Andreas Michalopoulos

Yes, that's high. This is due to the market conditions and to the very difficult market we're going through, and you can see that in the fleet utilization numbers as well.

Symeon Palios

This is Symeon speaking. By looking at our website and the fleet employment table and the bar chart you can see the existing time charter rates and also the ones that are without the charter.

Kevin Sterling

Thank you, Symeon. Let me touch on the suspension dividend, obviously things have been challenged for some time but in the broader context of the charter market, do you feel like the cycle is getting pushed further and further out? Is that while the suspension of the dividend or just things keep getting pushed further out. Am I thinking about that right? Maybe just a quick thought of how you guys are thinking about that with the suspension of the dividend.

Symeon Palios

If we were paying substantial dividend and meaningful dividend upto now, that way of thinking would have been correct but the dividend that we were paying upto now was minimal and it was there just to satisfy very few shareholders that we cannot invest in companies that don't pay any dividend at all. Basically, we have not been paying the last years or so, the dividend was minimal. So another reason why we have suspended the dividend -- you can easily see that in the effort to save money in all respect this is the easier way of saving some money also. And that's why we have done it.

Kevin Sterling

Now that makes a lot of sense in this environment. Thank you. And kind of sticking with the broader industry macro, we're seeing some consolidation, alliance reconfigurations; how are you guys thinking about this in terms of potential impact to the charter industry? In other words, how would you weigh the pending capacity realignment against the current backdrop of what we all know is overcapacity and weak demand?

Anastasios Margaronis

Well, let's put things in perspective. Demand today starting from your last point is stronger than we have seen it over the last 12 to 18 months. So it is weaker -- growth in demand is weaker than it was few years back. But it's much better, considerably better than it was in 2015. So we are not concerned that much with the demand growth. We are slightly more optimistic than we were about that aspect but as we all know, the main problem lies with supply. So these consolidation as we are witnessing in the liner industry are effectively showing us that liner companies might have eventually reached to the point where other than fighting indiscriminantly on market share by ordering more and more large ships they may have realized that it would be best if they start rationalizing their tonnage by creating alliances or merging companies in the sense that they will finally stop ordering these large ships, try and make the best out of a very bad situation as regards the over tonnaging of large ships and by that I mean ships in excess of 13,000 TEU.

And move their cargoes in the most efficient way; and by that we mean -- we do not mean rather moving 8,000 containers in 13,000 TEU vessel but using 8,000 TEU ships to carry as close to 8,000 TEU cargo as possible which means that they are going to make a deficient use as possible of the tonnage that they have or they can charter in rather than just use whatever is available. Now the more companies create -- the more companies are in a group to better the usage of the tonnage and the smaller the irrational cascading as we have come to call it now of tonnage down the size ranges. In other words, it should be beneficial rather long winded way of expressing my view, to independent operators and charter owners as we are called rather than a continuation of what we have been witnessing up to now.

Kevin Sterling

Thank you, Stacey. I really do appreciate that viewpoint. Last question here, with the opening of the Panama Canal we've been hearing increasing concerns of surplus of traditional Panamax vassals 3,000 to 4,500 TEUs. But in your discussions with charters are you finding demand is generally shifting to larger Post-Panamax vessels or it's just still relatively healthy appetite in the region or into Asia trades for smaller Panamax tonnage?

Anastasios Margaronis

No, for the time being the classic Panamax tonnage as opposed to new Panamax that I referred to earlier which is in excess of 6,000 TEU are suffering, there is no doubt about it. And the reason they are suffering is that demand has been picking up and the idle ships have been fewer and fewer in the size ranges below and above the old Panamax sizes. In other words, we're seeing good demand in the 1,500 upto 2,500 to 3,000 TEU tonnage, especially with gear of course. And then we are seeing relatively decent demand for the new Panamax size from 6,000, 7,000 upwards which leaves the other ships in the middle wondering what to do.

Now as happened in every occasion where a major event like the opening of a canal or the closing of a canal in reverse takes place, the ships that are most directly affected by this event initially suffer most, and these are the Panamax's. What we feel is going to happen over the next few quarters is that these ships will eventually be either scrapped or redeployed by the liner companies but that might take a little bit of time because there are some Panamax ships which are fine and they are not technically obsolete just because the Panama Canal grew in size and take larger ships but they have to find the routes in which they can offer liner operators a good and profitable service and this will take a little of time.

Kevin Sterling

Thank you, Stacey. That's all I had. Gentlemen, thanks for your time today, and best of luck to you navigating these conditions. Take care.

Anastasios Margaronis

Thanks, Kevin.


[Operator Instructions] At this time I'd like to turn the floor back over to management for any additional or closing comments.

Symeon Palios

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


Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your participation. This concludes today's teleconference. You may now disconnect your lines at this time and have a wonderful day.

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