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Bermudian tanker operator posts narrow loss

Fluctuating fortunes: the average daily spot rate for Suezmax oil tankers was below $30,000 in 2016. Nordic American Tankers has cash break-even rate below $11,000 per ship

Nordic American Tankers made a $1.8 million loss in the fourth-quarter. That equates to a loss of two cents per share.

Five analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research had estimated the Bermudian-based company would post a break-even result.

For the last three months of 2016 the company recorded revenue of $52.2 million, down from $77.3 million in the same period of 2015.

The full-year profit was $32.9 million, or 36 cents per share, down from $114.6 million, or $1.29 per share, in 2015.

Revenue for the year was $236.8 million.

The oil tanker sector has faced challenges in the last few years. The yearly average spot rate of Suezmax vessels, the only size of vessel in Nordic American’s 30-strong fleet, dropped below $20,000 per day from 2011 to 2013, and was below $30,000 last year.

However, the company has a cash break-even rate below $11,000 per day per ship, and it has reported a rise in TCE, or time charter earnings, in the fourth quarter, up from $16,700 during the third-quarter to $21,600 in the final three months of the year.

The company said that level has risen to $25,000 so far this year.

Nordic American has ordered the construction of three new Suezmax tankers, to be delivered in the second half of 2018. It plans to pay for those ships mostly from the successful issuing of an additional $120 million of shares last September, but also from cash from operations and with debt.

Later this month the company will pay a common share dividend of 20 cents, the 78th time it has paid a dividend since 1997.

In a statement, the company said that with TCE rising, it was “reaping the benefits of increasing our fleet over the last few years”.

The company is engaged in the transportation of crude oil and has no investments in the dry cargo or container sectors.

Nordic American stated: “In addition to paying a quarterly dividend, we wish to continue building a cash position in order to keep the low debt level when we grow our fleet.”

The company’s adjusted net operating earnings were $28.2 million for the fourth quarter, up from $21.7 million in the third quarter.

Nordic American has a credit facility of $500 million, which matures in December 2020.

Commenting on the world economy and tanker market, the company said: “The development of the world economy affects the tanker industry. A low oil price is stimulating the world economy, which is positive for the tanker market.”

Nordic American’s shares yesterday closed up 33 cents at $8.68 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Disclosure: the writer of this article owns shares in Nordic American Tankers.