StealthGas, Inc. (GASS)

Q3 2010 Earnings Call Transcript

November 16, 2010 11:00 am ET

Executives

Harry Vafias – President and CEO

Andrew Simmons – CFO

Analysts

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

David Wheeler [ph] – Mantaro

Bill Frazier – Greenhill Capital

Jay Weinstein – Oak Forest Investment Management

Presentation

Operator

Good day and welcome to the StealthGas Inc. third quarter and nine months 2010 results conference call. For your information, today's conference is being recorded. At this time, I would like to turn the conference over to Mr. Harry Vafias, President and Chief Executive Officer. Please go ahead.

Harry Vafias

Thank you and good morning, everyone. Welcome to our conference call and webcast to discuss the results for the third quarter and nine months ended September 30, 2010. I am Harry Vafias, the CEO of StealthGas and will like to remind you that please I will be discussing forward-looking statements in today's conference call and presentation. Regarding the Safe Harbor language, I would like you to refer to slide number one of this presentation, as well to our press release in our third-quarter and nine months 2010 results.

With me today is Andrew Simmons, our CFO, and if you need any further information, please contact Andrew or myself.

Let’s begin from slide number two. We continue to operate a highly efficient and modern fleet primarily in the Handy Size LPG segment on secured employment contract with first-class charters that serve a very specific niche market. During the third quarter of 2010 we completed the purchase of one Aframax crude oil tanker which has been declared in the five-year bareboat charter. We were able to obtain this vessel at an attractive price, for value has already increased since the purchase, and we immediately (inaudible) secured long-term bareboat charter thereby providing favorable stable cash flow to the company going forward.

We continue to look to sell some of the older and less productive LPG tonnage as we make way for the five brand new ships that are slated to join this fleet in February of next year. Moving them from the fleet, I believe will improve the overall performance of the company going forward. Already, the exports we have made this year and last have resulted in improvement on the average time chart equivalent rate achieved by the fleet compared to the third quarter in first nine months of last year. These measures coupled with the 12 period charters we announced recently at and average rate flows being $1000 per day more than the current diverse TC rate per day of $7017 per day for a fleet should result in an improving outlook for financial performance for the company going forward.

We have no further scheduled deliveries of ships until the first quarter of 2011 and as we have previously highlighted the circa of $11 million of States payments during 2010 for the five LPG new buildings we have in Norway would be made comfortably from our internally generated cash flows. After taking into consideration the total fleet of 38 ships at the end of third quarter 2010, our net debt-to-capitalization ratio stood at 45% which coupled with our employment profile I have just highlighted an overall quality of our charters continue to underpin the financial stability of our company.

We continue to (inaudible) secure and visible revenue stream with stable and predictable cash flows. The charts we have announced recently have enhanced our profile both in terms of days now fixed and the improved rates being obtained I have just discussed.

At the moment system governance for the remainder of 2010 stands at 78% for this year with about 60% already covered for 2011 and above 35% already fixed for 2012. We have announced a number of attractive pay-off [ph] features in the last few weeks which should enhance our performance going into 2011.

As you have seen from our results our time-charter equivalent rate was $7040 per vessel per day compared to $6,564 in the corresponding course of last year which represents an increase of about 7.3% on a year-to-year basis albeit to the smaller fleet (inaudible) rate per day at $7,017 compared to $6840 per day at the end of Q3 2009.

While these improvements are both welcome and encouraging we continue to face challenges in the near term from a trading standpoint as we continue to have high number of vessels trading at the spot market as was the case particularly between 2005 and 2008.

We have also again included in our adjusted time-charter equivalent on a blending basis in our slide presentation for both the LPG vessels and all the tankers as if none of these vessels were on bareboat charters. This not only gives you a more realistic figure in terms of the average time-charter equivalent achieved by the fleet but we also have adjusted the vessel operating expense line later in the presentation as if it were to be responsible for the operating expenses of all the vessels in the fleet.

On this basis, the daily PC was $7792 in Q3 2010 against $7802 for the same time last year. The third quarter of each year is traditionally the shortest one for our company in terms of the seasonal trade and therefore it’s encouraging to see a little bit of stability in the average rates achieved by the fleet for the third quarter on a year-to-year basis.

I am also pleased to report that yet again we continue to remain comfortably above our net income breakeven level as we will discuss later in the presentation.

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