Stealthgas hits record revenues despite soft market

Nov 27 2015

Harry Vafias’ Stealthgas reported that revenues for the first nine months of this year surpassed $100 mill for the first time in the company’s history and that the assets had passed $1 bill mark in value - also a record.

Revenues for the nine month period were $103.9 mill, an increase of $6.9 mill on the $97 mill recorded for the same period in 2014. This rise was mainly attributable to a higher number of vessels in the fleet. Adjusted EBITDA was $43.5 mill for the nine month period, compared to $46.3 mill in 2014.

In the third quarter of this year, Stealthgas took delivery of five eco LPG carriers, which pushed the company’s assets over the $1 bill mark. Also during 3Q15, the company claimed vessel utilisation of 94.4%, compared with 89.2% in 2Q15.

Some 77% of the fleet were on period charters for the remainder of this year, thus ensuring steady cash flows in a soft market environment, the company said. The company also managed to continuously reduce daily operations costs and the breakeven bottom line. 

Included in the first nine months of 2015 results were net losses from interest rate derivative instruments and foreign currency forward arrangements of $0.10 mill. Interest paid on interest rate swap arrangements amounted to $1.03 mill and gains from change in fair value of the same interest rate derivative instruments and foreign currency forward arrangements amounted to $0.93 mill.

The Company realised a $0.03 mill gain on sale of vessels in the first nine months of 2015 and also recorded an impairment loss of $3.6 mill in the period, as a result of accounting for the possibility of scrapping one of the oldest vessels by the end of this year.

As a result, Stealthgas reported a net income for the nine month period of $5.6 mill, compared to net income of $13.9 mill for the 2014 period. Adjusted net income was $9.1 mill, compared to $13 mill for the same period last year. EBITDA amounted to $39.9 mill.

As of 30th September, 2015, cash and cash equivalents amounted to $76.8 mill and the debt totalled $413.7 mill. During the nine month period, debt repayments were $44.5 mill.

CEO Harry Vafias commented “During the third quarter of 2015 our market remained weak. Since June 2015 to date, the price of oil declined from $60 to around $40 per barrel, a fact which did not help our segment, particularly the spot market activity. Nevertheless, StealthGas continued to implement and refine its strategy.

“Our performance was strong in terms of operations, but did not produce the desired results in terms of profitability. In more detail, we managed to achieve a 94.4% operational utilisation, increased in terms of the previous quarter by 5 percentage points. All vessels in our fleet were utilised to the maximum capacity that the market permitted, regardless of age.

“We concluded with success our 2015 expansion plan taking on the delivery of five eco modern LPG vessels within the third quarter, reaching a total of 10 new deliveries for the year. In spite of weak times, based on our experienced chartering policy, we managed to fix 90% of our new deliveries on period charters.

“We continued the implementation of technical and operational management policies being for yet one more quarter efficient, as we had only eight days of technical off-hire in a fleet of 55 operating vessels while our daily operational expenses decreased. Our asset base surpassed $1 bill and we maintained a moderate leverage of about 39% in spite of being in a capital intensive phase.

“Although we managed to increase our revenues, it is due to the weak rates particularly in the spot segment that we did not see our potential growth in our bottom line. Rates have decreased on an annual basis by more than 20% narrowing profitability margins. We strongly believe that our company is well managed and well positioned such that should rates mark even the slightest improvement this will be automatically reflected in our earnings.

“In terms of our stock performance, as we trade close to 1/3 of our NAV, we strongly see that all energy related stocks are driven by oil price fluctuation rather than company fundamentals. In this market environment, we continue at a dynamic pace our stock repurchase programme having spent about $18 mill from December, 2014 to date.

“Our sentiment for the year to come is that as scrapping in our segment has increased and as we feel we have reached the bottom of the market, we might see a slight improvement in rates and we are confident and well positioned to grasp this opportunity to the fullest,” he concluded. 

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