The collapse in oil prices may be crushing energy companies, but it has been a boon for the refined product tanker space. Unfortunately, the stock market is failing to recognize that fact, said Anthony Gurnee, CEO of Ardmore Shipping (ASC) .
"Low crude prices means higher throughput at refineries," said Gurnee. "Those larger volumes of refined products need to be moved at sea, and that has caused rates to rise significantly."
Still, shares of Ardmore have dropped 23% year to date. Gurnee said Ardmore's business is actually inversely correlated to the price of oil, yet investors are throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water as they sell anything related to energy.
Not every market participant is literally and figuratively missing the boat, however. Gurnee said the splintering and effective dissolution of OPEC has meant that oil prices have been consistently volatile, which creates opportunities for oil traders, who use Ardmore's highly flexible mid-sized ships to pursue arbitrage opportunities around the world.
Furthermore, he said the end of the U.S. crude oil export ban has further strengthened the market for product tankers. Some of the larger ships that serve as swing capacity between refined products or crude oil will be used to move U.S. crude exports, which effectively reduces the supply of ships moving refined products, he said.
"The supply of the order book for our type of vessels is going to be at 20-year lows probably within the next quarter," said Gurnee.
Gurnee said Ardmore's fleet growth and cost controls are enabling it to realize maximum benefit from a very strong market environment. The shipper currently pays a 9.65% dividend. Gurnee said this represents a payment of 60% of earnings from continuing operations.
"As our earnings fluctuate, so will the dividend," said Gurnee. "We believe though that it's going to continue to have a very attractive yield. In other words, like a floating REIT."