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StealthGas CEO Discusses Q2 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

StealthGas CEO Discusses Q2 2010 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

StealthGas (GASS)

Q2 2010 Earnings Call

August 23, 2010 11:00 a.m. ET


Harry Vafias – President and CEO

Andrew Simmons – CFO


Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Jeff Geygan - Milwaukee Private Wealth Management

Jason Selch - Providence Capital

Sean Milligan - Johnson & Rice


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Good day and welcome to the StealthGas Inc. second quarter and first six months 2010 financial results conference call. Today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to your host today, Mr. Harry Vafias, president and chief executive officer. Please go ahead sir.

Harry Vafias

Thank you and good morning everyone. Welcome to our conference call and web cast to discuss the results for the second quarter and six months ended June 30, 2010. I'm Harry Vafias, CEO of StealthGas, and I would like to remind you please that we'll be discussing forward-looking statements in today's conference call and presentation. Regarding the Safe Harbor language, I would like to refer you to slide number one of this presentation, as well as to our press release on our second quarter and six months 2010 results. With me today is Andrew Simmons, our CFO. If you need any further info on the conference call or the presentation, please contact Andrew or myself.

Slide number two. Our primary objective continues to run a highly efficient and modern fleet on secure employment contracts with first class charters that serve a very specific niche market. Our core LPG fleet has no correlation whatsoever to most other shipping sectors, so we continue to be both disappointed and surprised that our stock seems to continue to trade in tandem with the share movements of companies whose vessels trade in sectors completely unrelated to ours.

During the second quarter of 2010, we completed the sale of the final three of the five older gas carriers in our fleet that we have contracted to sell by May of this year. I am pleased to confirm that the majority of these sales were concluded at prices very close to the vessels' book values. These vessels have made our fleet more efficient, thus as several of these vessels may have operated for this year at least, in what continues to be a relatively soft spot market, by moving them from the fleet I believe it will improve the overall performance of the company. And as we have seen, their removal has already resulted in improvement in the average time charter equivalent rate achieved by the fleet, compared to the second quarter and first half of last year.

We have no further scheduled deliveries of ships until the first quarter of '11 and as we have previously highlighted, the circa $11 million of states payments during 2010 for the five Handysize LPG carriers we have on order we will meet comfortably from our internally generated cash flows.

After taking into consideration the total fleet of 37 ships, at the end of the second quarter 2010 our net debt to capitalization ratio stood at 43%, which [unintelligible] our employment charter profile and overall quality of our charters continue to underpin the financial stability of the company.

Our third objective has been to secure and maintain a visible revenue stream with stable and predictable cash flows. At the moment, fixed employment for our fleet for 2010 stands at about 70% of available days. We have about 35% already covered for '11.

As we have announced during both the first and second quarters, we have secured some attractive period business for our fleet. We are in the final stages of securing some medium term charters for three more of our vessels. Although we would really prefer to have more vessels fixed at attractive rates on a period basis, in some sectors, particularly in regard to our [unintelligible] of ships this remains challenging. We are hopeful, though, that the period market will tighten and therefore we prefer to keep some of our vessels in the spot market so we can take advantage of improved time and available charter rates if they materialize later in the year.

As you will have seen from our results for Q2 our time charter equivalent rate was about $7,000 per vessel, per day, compared to about $6,600 in the corresponding quarter last year, which represents an increase of about 5%. While this improvement was both welcome and encouraging, we continue to face challenges in the near term from a trading standpoint, as we have a higher number of vessels trading in the spot market than was the case between 2005 and 2008.

We have also again included an adjusted time chart equivalent on a blended basis in our slide presentation for both the gas carriers and the product tankers, as none of our vessels were on [available] charter. This not only gives you a more realistic figure in terms of the average time charter equivalent achieved by our fleet, but has also adjusted the vessel operating expense line [unintelligible] in the presentation as if we were to be responsible for the operating expenses of all the vessels in our fleet. On this basis, the daily TCE was $7,835 in Q2 2010 against $7,857 at the same time last year, a reduction of only $22 a day, underlying the steadiness of this fleet.

The second and third quarters of each year are traditionally the two softer quarters for our company in terms of seasonal trade, and therefore it's encouraging to see the relative stability in the average rates achieved by the fleet for the second quarter on a year on year basis.

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