StealthGas' CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

StealthGas, Inc. (GASS)

Q1 2012 Results Earnings Call

May 23, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Executives

Harry Vafias – Chief Executive Officer

Konstantinos Sistovaris – Chief Financial Officer

Analysts

Jeff Geygan – Milwaukee

George Berman – JP Turner & Co.

Presentation

Operator

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for standing by. And welcome to the StealthGas First Quarter 2012 Results Conference Call. 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 the conference is being recorded today on Wednesday the 23 of May, 2012. And I would now like to hand over to your speaker today, Mr. Harry Vafias, [CFO]. 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 of 2012. I’m Harry Vafias, the CEO of StealthGas, and I would like to remind you that we will be discussing forward-looking statements in today’s call and presentation. 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 first quarter results.

With me today is Mr. Sistovaris, our CFO, and if you need any further information on the conference call or the presentation, please contact to Konstantinos or myself.

Before I start with the slides I would like to comment on the results we released yesterday. These are the best results we had over the last 24 months. Our bottom line income of $0.36 a share or $0.25 a share, excluding the gain on the vessel sale and hedging showed a significant improvement in the LPG market filtering down to our earnings.

This is in contrast with the continuing difficult environment for more shipping companies, whereby fuel our reporting earnings at all. As a result of our focus on the initial LPG market we continue to operate profitability and we have laid solid foundations for the company avoiding any difficult financial position as far many other shipping companies are already in.

Slide number two. As we have said in the past, our medium-term goal is to renew our fleet, buying new vessels and selling older ones. During 2011, we took delivery of the three newbuilding vessels which we then fixed on long-term time-charters.

We also proceeded with the sale of four older ships with an average age of 16 years. During 2012, so far we have sold two vessels, the Gas Tiny in January and Gas Kalogeros in this month, and we have also taken delivery of one newbuilding, the Gas Husky in January and within next month, we will take delivery of our last newbuilding the Gas Esco.

We wish to keep the averages of our fleet low and get rid of the older vessels that operate in the spot markets, so that we improve our contract coverage and operational efficiencies. In terms of leverage, we have always been cautious to maintain more leverage and not to overburden the company.

At the end of the first quarter of 2012, our net debt to capitalization ratio stood at 43% similar to the previous quarter. Our gross debt stood at above $363 million at the end of the quarter, we do not expected to increase any further.

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 80% with almost 60% fixed for 2013.

We have extending the forward coverage of our revenues by entering to a number of long-term charters. Just to remind you that the equivalent forward coverage numbers in the same quarter last year was 63% and 40%, respectively.

Our first goal has been to own and operate a modern fleet of gas carriers and in this respect the average age as of today is about 10 years, not including our three modern product tankers and the one Aframax crude oil tanker, which is rather young compared to the industry average. By focusing on the modern fleet we have manage to maintain the average age of our fleet to about 10 years for the past five years at least.

We continue to believe that within our cost factors this gives us a competitive advantage as younger ships have less operating expenses, consume less bunkers and are more appealing to put charters and that -- and this factor will be very important as we move forward into this year and beyond.

We’ll continue to have strong charters, which lowers our counterparty risk. This is key for any shipping company’s performance in any segment, especially in the kind of environment where you very often hear of charters defaulting on their commitments especially in the dry bulk segment.

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. If LPG rates continue to strengthen and we did have a charter default, we would expect to be able to find a new charter at even higher rates.

Now in terms of the cost efficiency of our operation, I’m pleased to report yet another good performance in the first quarter. Our net income break-even level per vessel per day excluding losses on derivatives was $5,847 per ship per day, compared to $5,750 in the previous quarter and $5,975 in the same quarter of last year which puts us comfortably in the profit making territory.

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