StealthGas, Inc. (GASS)

Q1 2011 Earnings Call

May 16, 2011 11:00 am ET


Harry Vafias – President and CEO

Konstantinos Sistovaris – CFO


David Cohen

Bruce Berger

Tom McKay

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

George Berman

Jeff Geygan – Milwaukee Wealth Management



Thanks for standing by. Welcome to the StealthGas First Quarter 2011 Financial Results Conference. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. There will be a presentation followed by question-and-answer session. (Operator Instructions) I must advise you this conference is being recorded today, Monday, the 16th of May, 2011. I would now like to hand the conference over to your first speaker for 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 the first quarter ended March 31, 2011. I'm Harry Vafias, CEO of StealthGas and I would like to remind you that we'll be discussing forward-looking statements in this conference call 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 and our first quarter results. With me today is Konstantinos Sistovaris, our CFO. If you need any further info on the call or the presentation, please contact myself or Konstantinos.

Slide number two, we have added this slide because we get a lot of investor enquiries regarding our business. So while most of you are familiar with our company, let me briefly discuss what we do for those participants that are joining for the first time.

We own a large fleet of ocean going vessels transporting a number of different cargos on behalf of our charters. All our vessels are 100% owned and we do not charter any vessels owned by others that we may then relet to third parties.

The main focus of our company is in transportation of liquefied petroleum gas. We own 35 vessels between the sizes of 3,000 and 8,000 cubic meters that is a smaller Handy Size segment of the LPG market.

In that segment, we are by far the largest owner of such vessels in the world. Our vessels carry liquefied petroleum gas, LPG, which is different from natural gas, LNG. By LPG, I refer to a number of different gasses as you can see on this slide, which are liquefied through pressure or low temperatures in order to be carried safely and in bigger volumes.

In addition to the LPG ships, we own three modern medium-range product tankers. These vessels are much larger than the LPG vessels. They have a carrying capacity of about 45,000 dead weight and they carry byproducts of petroleum refining like these large jet fuel and naphtha. We also own one Aframax crude oil tanker with carrying capacity of 115,000 dead weight.

The core product we carry, LPG, is a byproduct of natural gas and crude oil. About 10% of the natural gas that is extracted is LPG that has been methane. About 60% of LPG comes from natural gas extraction and 40% comes from crude oil refining.

These gas products whose more common names are propane, butane and ethane, may be further processed as a feedstock in petrochemical production in order to produce other gases which are more commonly called petrochemical gases also carried in our ships. There is a wide variety of uses for LPG products as you can see further down on the slide.

About half of the LPG produced is used directly by consumers and the other half by the petrochemical industry. And to close this business review, I'd just like to add that LPG used to help protect the environment since it's lower carbon content and the fact that it burns much cleaner than petro can reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving to slide number three, to review how we’re implementing our business strategy. As previously announced our medium-term goal is to renew our fleet with the delivery of five-year building gas ships. In February, we took delivery of the first vessel to Gas Elixir. For the remainder of the first quarter, we did not engage in any other S&P activity.

Then at the end of April, we took delivery of the second new building Gas Exelero and various regulatory to show for our older vessels in our existing fleet. We wish to maintain a strong focus on our operational side and that's the reason behind the sale of these four older vessels. We believe that removing them from fleet and replacing them with brand new larger and higher specification vessels will improve the overall performance of the company going forward.

As far as our new building program is concerned, we have three more vessels to take delivery of. One is scheduled for July this year; second was scheduled for the end of November, but we moved the delivery by one month to January 2012 in order for the vessel to be classed as a 2012 build instead of 2011 build. And the last one is scheduled to be delivered in May 2012.

After taking the consideration, the total fleet of 39 ships at the end of the first quarter 2011, our net debt-to-capitalization ratio stood at 45.6% similar to the previous quarter, and taking in consideration the scheduled vessel deliveries, we still will continue to have a moderation of below mid 50s by the end of the year.

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