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Call Start: 11:00

Call End: 11:39

StealthGas (GASS)

Q2 2011 Results

August 25, 2011 11:00 a.m. ET


Harry Vafias – President and CEO

Konstantinos Sistovaris – CFO


Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Jeff Geygan – Milwaukee Private Wealth Management

George Berman - JP Turner

Jay Weinstein - Highline



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Welcome to the StealthGas Inc. second quarter 2011 results conference call. [Operator instructions.] I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Harry Vafias. Please go ahead sir.

Harry Vafias

Thank you and good morning everyone. Welcome to our conference call and webcast to discuss the results for our second quarter ended June 2011. I’m Harry Vafias, the CEO of StealthGas, and I’d like to remind you that we will be discussing forward-looking statements in today’s conference call.

Regarding the Safe Harbor language, I would like you to refer to slide number one of this presentation as well as to our press release and our second quarter results. With me today is Konstantinos Sistovaris, our CFO, and if you need any further information on the conference call or the presentation, please contact Konstantinos or myself.

Let’s start with slide number two to review how we are implementing our business strategy. As previously announced, our medium-term goal is to renew our fleet for the delivery of five newbuilding gas carriers.

In February and April, we took delivery of the first two vessels, the 5,000 CBM Gas Elixir and Gas Cerberus, which we then fixed on long term time charters. Then, in the second quarter, we also proceeded with the sale of four older vessels. The average age of the four older vessels sold was 16 years, and three of them were operating in the spot market. We successfully delivered three of these vessels to their new buyers during the same quarter and the fourth was delivered in July.

We wish to maintain a strong focus on our operation side, and that is the reason behind the sale of these four older vessels. We believe that by removing them from the fleet and replacing them with brand new larger and higher specification ships, we will improve the overall performance of the company going forward.

As far as our newbuilding program is concerned, we have three more vessels to take delivery of. One is scheduled to be delivered next month. A second is scheduled for January 2012, and the last one is scheduled to be delivered in May.

After taking into consideration the total fleet of 37 ships, at the end of the second quarter 2011 our net debt to capitalization stood at only 44.8%, similar to the previous quarter. And taking into consideration the scheduled vessel deliveries, we estimate that we will continue to have a moderate ratio of below 50%. Our gross debt, which stood at approximately $350 million at the end of the quarter, will peak at about $370 million in the second quarter of 2012.

With the sale of the older vessels, we received, after repaying the debt outstanding on three of the four vessels, about $17 million that has further strengthened our balance sheet and liquidity. We look at the sale, from an operation side, as a good opportunity to enhance our liquidity and remove from the fleet these vessels that, due to their age and condition, it was difficult to trade them profitably. We replaced them with new vessels we can charter out at much higher rates with significantly less cost.

On the flip side, we had to [write up the close] on these sales as we have already said, approximately $5.6 million for the second quarter of 2011. We continue to strive to obtain a secure and visible revenue stream with stable and predictable cash flows.

At the moment, fixed employment for the fleet for the remainder of the year is 75%. We have almost 50% fixed for 2012, while the equivalent fall coverage numbers are the same as last year, 75% and 35% respectively. Our [unintelligible] goal has been to own and operate a modern fleet of LPGs, and in this respect the average age as of today is 11 years, not including the four tankers, which is rather young compared to the industry average.

Last quarter, the average age of our LPG fleet was 12 years. Including the product tankers, the Aframax tankers, and the newbuilding vessels, we estimate that at the end of 2011, our fleet will have an average age of 10.5 years. We continue to believe that, within our core segment, this gives us a competitive advantage, as younger vessels have less operating expenses, consume less [unintelligible] and are more appealing to blue chip charters and that this fact will be important as we move forward into 2012 and beyond.

Our next objective has been to maintain close customer relations. The quality of our customer relationship is exemplified by the quality of our charters, which also lowers our counterparty risk. Out a fleet of 37 vessels that we previously announced, we had one incident whereby we agreed to a rate reduction of only 10%. Because of the strength of the LPG market and the participation of more established names in it, we don’t expect to have any issues with our counterparties.

Our sixth goal has been to maintain cost efficient operations. I’m pleased to report yet another good performance in the second quarter. Our net income breakeven level per vessel per day, excluding losses on derivatives, was $6,161 per vessel per day, compared to $6,426 in the first quarter and $6,183 per day per vessel in the fourth quarter last year.

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