Baltic Trading narrows loss

US bulker operator Baltic Trading failed to turn a profit in the first quarter despite rising freight rates and a surge in revenue.

New York-quoted Baltic reported a loss of $3.5m for the three months to 31 March, against a deficit of $5.1m in the first-quarter of last year.

The company said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) stood at $3.1m, versus negative $0.4m in the first leg of 2013.

Revenue rose to $13.1m from $6.0m year-on-year thanks to a larger fleet and increase in time charter equivalent rates, which grew to $11,229 per day from $6,685 on average but were still lower than it had hoped.

“During the first quarter of 2014, additional iron ore capacity coupled with a mild wet season in Australia led to a 19% increase of Chinese iron ore imports,” Baltic told investors Wednesday.

“However, the impact of incremental Australian ore was partially offset by the seasonal drop in Brazilian iron ore cargoes, Indonesia's mineral ore ban and the delayed onset of South American grain season.

“Furthermore, the continued delivery of newbuilding tonnage and the tightening of credit availability for Chinese commodity importers all contributed to negatively influence freight rates during the quarter.”

While fleet expansion helped boost earnings it also led to higher operating expenses, which rose to $15.1m from $10.1m year-on-year, while vessel operating expenses increased to $6.6m from $3.9m.