WB readies for rebound

Western Bulk continues to prepare for an upturn in the dry cargo market despite delayed expectations of a rebound, its chief executive says.

An improvement which was hoped for in the second quarter is now predicted to occur in the second half of the year, Jens Ismar says.

Speaking after Western Bulk reported a profitable first quarter yesterday, Ismar explains the optionality in the company’s charter book means any improvement in the market will result in it making money.

“I don’t think we are in for a boom right now,” Ismar said. “What we have said is we expect this year to be better than last year. We may see some peaks higher than now and the average will be higher.”

Oslo-listed Western Bulk yesterday booked a gain of $5.5m in the opening three months of 2014 to overturn a loss of $1.5m at the start of last year.

Western Bulk was deliberately long of ships at the beginning of the second quarter, with coverage for 66 of its 112 vessels. Additional vessels and contracts are being added to reach a target of 165 to 180 vessels in the short term. 

Ismar said: “We are well prepared for an improving market.”

This year Western Bulk took delivery of the 61,400-dwt Western Hakata, on which it has a long term charter with purchase options.

Ismar says the vessel has performed better than expected.

While he declines to offer specific details of its showing so far, he explained: “Japanese designs tend to perform better than the yards have declared.”

The vessel is one of a dozen Imabari will build for the company.