StealthGas' CEO Discusses Q4 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

StealthGas Inc. ( GASS)

Q4 2011 Earnings Call

February 23, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Harry Vafias – CEO

Konstantinos Sistovaris – CFO

Analysts

Natasha Boyden – Cantor Fitzgerald

Jeff Geygan – Milwaukee Private

Presentation

Operator

Thank you for standing by and welcome to the StealthGas Inc. Fourth Quarter 2011 Results Conference Call. (Operator Instructions). I must advise you that this conference is being recorded today Thursday the 23 of February 2012. I would now like to hand the conference over to your first 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 the fourth quarter and full year 2011. I’m Harry Vafias, the CEO of StealthGas, and I would like to remind you please that we will be discussing forward-looking statements in today’s call. And regarding the Safe Harbor language, I would like you to refer to slide number one of this presentation as well to our Press Release on our fourth quarter results. With me today is Konstantinos Sistovaris, our CFO, and if you need any further information on the call or the presentation, please contact Konstantinos or myself.

Before I start with the slides I would like to comment on the results we released this morning. I am pleased with the results we announced today. Not only did we post profits for the quarter and the full year but our bottom line shows an improvement quarter-on-quarter and year-on-year in operations.

We announced earnings per share of $0.22 for the quarter and $0.41 for the year. These include some non-recurring and non-cash items related to the swaps and the fair values of our swaps and foreign exchange and book losses on the sales of our vessels in the second quarter.

Excluding these our fourth quarter earnings per share was $0.17 and full year were $0.66 compared to $0.41 last year. I believe that we have started seeing the improvement in the LPG market filtering down to our earnings. This is a very difficult environment for shipping companies and few are reporting earnings at all and as a result of our focus on the LPG market we continue to operate profitably and have laid solid foundations for the company, avoiding any difficult financial position that so many other shipping companies are already in.

So let’s start with slide number two. Our midterm goal is to renew our fleet with the delivery of five new building gas ships. During the first three quarters of 2011 we took delivery of the first three ships, which we then fixed on long term time charters. We also proceeded with the sale of four older vessels.

The average age of the four vessels sold was 16 years and three of them were operating in the spot market. Last month we sold Gas Tiny the smallest vessel in our fleet also operating in the spot market and this month we agreed to sell the Gas Kalogeros, also operating in the spot market.

From the sale of Gas Kalogeros we expect to book a small profit in the second quarter, voyage deliveries due. During January of this year we took delivery from a yard of for first 7,500cbm new building, the Gas Husky, which were immediately deployed on a five year bareboat charters to a Middle Eastern state oil company.

As I have said in the past, we used to keep the average rate of our fleet low and get rid of the older ships that operate in the spot markets, so that we improve our contract coverage and operational efficiencies and that is the reason behind the sale of the five older ships.

As far as our new building program is concerned we have one more vessel to take delivery off. The vessel is being built in Japan and has already been launched in the water and delivery to us is scheduled for May.

After taking in to consideration the total fleet of 37 vessels at the end of the fourth quarter ‘11 our net debt to capitalization stood at 43.2%, similar to the previous quarter and taken into consideration the last vessel delivery, we estimate 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 $360 million in the second quarter of 2012. So, we do not expect any significant increase in our debt level from the delivery of the last new building.

We continue to strive to obtain a secure and visible revenue stream with stable and predictable cash flows. At the moment fixed employment for our fleet for 2012 stands at 75%, with almost 40% already fixed for 2013.

Just to remind you within our previous presentation I had said that by the end of the first quarter 2012 we are aiming to have around 70% of our fleet fixed whereas we managed to already have 75% fixed already.

Our first goal has been to own and operate a modern fleet of gas carriers and in this respect the average age of today is 11 years, not including our tankers, which is rather young compared to the industry average.

Including the product tankers and the Aframax and the new buildings of our fleet, the average age falls to 10.5 years. We continue to believe that within our core sector this gives us a competitive advantage, as younger ships have less operating expenses, consume less bunkers and are more appealing to blue chip charters, and that is a factor would be very important as we move forward into 2012 and beyond.

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