Season starts badly

Euronav’s weak fourth quarter numbers appear to spell bad news for other listed crude tanker owners in what was never expected to be a happy earnings season for the sector.

The Belgian owner reported a net loss of $31.0m, or $0.62 per share, for the final leg of 2012 versus $50.6m worth of red ink 12 months ago.

Its adjusted core operating profit hit the tape at $24m, a long way from the $38m consensus. 

Erik Nikolai Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities, said: “Euronav Q4 does not bode well for tankers earnings season.”

Euronav saw its VLCCs haul in $12,800 daily in the period, while its suezmaxes commanded just $8,500 daily.

Applying the same numbers to John Fredriksen’s Frontline would see the owner log a core operating profit of $18.9m, less than the $22.5m Stavseth had been looking for.

“Our notes show that VLCC earnings averaged $16,000 per day in 4Q12 and we suspect Euronav’s VLCC pool Tankers International may have underperformed peers, hence we won’t change our expectations for other tanker peers,” analysts at RS Platou Markets said.

However, they added: “Euronav has sailed in $22,300 per day when 46% of the available spot days have been fixed.

“The VLCC earnings compare well with our notes that show $22,700 per day so far in the quarter.”