According to Clarkson Research, global trade growth is projected to reach around 6.0 percent in 2014 as compared to 4.9 percent growth in 2013, yet with a significant amount of new containerships expected to hit the water this year, contributing to a fleet capacity growth of 3.9 percent (according to Clarksons), Singapore-based container shipper Rickmers Maritime notes demand is still unlikely to be in favor of container shippers until at least 2015.
After gaining charter contracts with Maersk Line signed recently for two of their 3,450 TEU panamax containerships as well as a contract extension with MSC, Rickmers reports in their first quarter earnings that their fleet is 98 percent covered with charter contracts in 2014.
Mr Thomas Preben Hansen, Rickmers’ Chief Executive Officer, commented,
“Whilst the charter market remains under pressure as a result of the persistent over-supply of container ships in the market, Rickmers Maritime’s performance has been consistent due to its existing charter agreements with reputable counter parties. As a result of our recent chartering activities, we have succeeded in locking in 98% of our tonnage exposure for 2014, bringing our secured revenue between 31 March 2014 and the expiry of our last charter party contract in 2019 to a total of US$311.3 million. With a number of our existing charter agreements expiring during 4Q2014 and 2015, the uncertainty surrounding the timing of a charter market recovery poses a risk to the earnings and cash flows of the Trust. To this end, we will continue our chartering activities to ensure the best possible future employment for our fleet of quality vessels.”
Clarksons projects trade growth to continue to rise in 2015 to around 6.8 percent, which is good news for Rickmers as eight of the company’s vessels, representing 50 percent of the company’s fleet, has expiring charter contracts that year.