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Dry Bulk Shipping Industry Analysis

While I was working on my recent article[1] on dry bulk shipping enterprise Golden Ocean Group (GOGL[2]), it occurred to me that many readers might like to see an analysis of the industry itself to support some of the claims being made by Golden Ocean and Ship Finance International (SFL[3]). Basically, both of these companies have been claiming that the dry bulk shipping industry has been showing signs of recovery, which has been having positive effects on shipping freight rates. This should by extension have a positive effect on the revenues and profits of those companies participating in the industry.

It does indeed appear that a recovery in the industry is underway, which will be shown in this article.

About The Dry Bulk Shipping Industry

A bulk carrier is a seagoing vessel that is specially designed to transport unpackaged bulk cargo such as grains, coal, ore, and cement in its cargo holds. A dry bulk shipping company such as Golden Ocean Group simply owns a fleet of these ships that it then uses to transport bulk cargo for a customer in exchange for money. As these shipping firms effect the transport of large quantities of these goods across the oceans and between different companies, they are critical to international trade.

There are two primary ways in which dry bulk shippers are compensated for the use of their ships: time charter rate and voyage rate.

A time charter is when a customer will reserve the ship for the transport of its cargo for an extended period of time at a specified rate per day. This is useful for those customers that need to transport cargo constantly and desire protection for the constantly changing pricing environment in the spot market. Conversely, voyage charter rate, also known as spot rate, is where a customer will hire a ship to make a single trip, carrying bulk cargo from its source to its destination.

This is a good method for a customer to use if it has a one-off shipment but in most cases time charter is the way to go if a company is a frequent shipper.

Charter Prices

As I mentioned in my article on Golden Ocean Group (linked above), the company did see its average time charter rates decline quarter-over-quarter from the fourth quarter to the first quarter of 2018. With that said though, rates were broadly higher than in the first quarter of last year:

Source: Golden Ocean Group

As shown here, Capesize vessels saw by far the steepest quarter-over-quarter decline in rates. The other classes ship saw their rates hold up much better.

Capesize ships are far larger than both of the other two classes. In fact, Capesize ships are so large that they cannot traverse the Panama Canal and must travel the whole way around Cape Horn to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Due to this limitation, these ships are generally only used for carrying heavy cargoes that are not time-sensitive such as coal or iron ore.

Therefore, we may be able to conclude that this price drop was caused by a reduction in the volume of these shipments. However, that does not appear to be the case for coal:

Dry Bulk Shipping Industry Analysis Source: Maritime Analytics, Commodore Research, Golden Ocean Group

As we can see, coal shipments were up significantly in the first quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017. Furthermore, they were also higher than in the first quarter of 2017.

So the cause of this rate decline is likely not due entirely to coal. However, it could be due to iron ore, which is the other primary product shipped by Capesize ships. Well, here are the volumes for that commodity:

Dry Bulk Shipping Industry Analysis

Source: Maritime Analytics, Stormgeo, Nena Analytics, Golden Ocean Group

While iron ore shipments from Brazil may have fallen slightly in the first quarter from the fourth, for the most part shipments were higher quarter-over-quarter and relatively flat year-over-year.

So it does not appear that a decrease in demand for iron ore shipping services was the cause of the decline in Capesize charter rate pricing in the most recent quarter.

So what was the cause? Well, one answer could be that the number of Capesize ships in the global fleet increased from the fourth quarter. For example, Golden Ocean Group alone took delivery of five newbuild Capesize vessels during the first quarter.

When we consider that there has been virtually no scrapping activity across the global fleet, these deliveries will increase the supply of ships and cause charter rates to decline, all else being equal. Fortunately though, the global fleet is not expected to grow much either in 2018 or in the next few years, as shown here:

Dry Bulk Shipping Industry Analysis Source: SSY, Golden Ocean Group

Although supply growth is expected to be very low going forward, it will still exert a negative impact on pricing in the absence of a rise in shipping volumes, which is something that we should keep an eye on going forward. This could be particularly relevant given the current political climate in the United States, which appears to favor tariffs on imported goods.

Grain Shipments

We have been seeing some signs that the industry’s customers have been responding to the tariffs, which is admittedly quite expected.

Many of the nations around the world that have imposed retaliatory tariffs against the United States have specifically targeted agricultural products. As we can see here, exports of both grain and soybeans surged during the first quarter in an attempt to ship as much product as possible before the bulk of these tariffs take effect.

Dry Bulk Shipping Industry Analysis Source: FearnResearch, Golden Ocean Group

My expectation is that these two commodities will see their transported volumes decline in the coming quarters as the new tariffs around the world take full effect. Thus, the first quarter surge is most likely a one-off event.

Nevertheless, shipping companies can benefit from the extra business while it lasts.


Overall, global trade volumes are up, barring some weakness late in the first quarter. This weakness is seasonal however and so does not appear to be anything to worry about. The industry does appear to be quite stable right now, but the growing trade disputes around the world are certainly going to prove to be a wildcard over the next few quarters.

This is unfortunate as international trade volumes will need to continue to grow going forward in order to absorb even the mild expected fleet growth in the coming years. Investors would be wise to keep an eye on these trends going forward.

Disclosure: I am/we are long SFL.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha).

I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.


  1. ^ recent article (seekingalpha.com)
  2. ^ Golden Ocean Group Limited (seekingalpha.com)
  3. ^ Ship Finance International Limited (seekingalpha.com)

A Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage Sectors

What is Happening Along the Links of the Global Supply Chain UK – We start the week’s journey through some of the stories from freight and logistics which didn’t quite make the headlines with a reaction from the Road Haulage Association (RHA[1]) to the announcement from Leeds City Council[2] that, after a recent public consultation[3], as from January 2020, any pre-Euro VI lorries entering the city’s Clean Air Zone will be liable to a toll of GBP50.

This represents a reduction from the original proposal of GBP100 per truck with the Council seeking help from the government’s Clean Air Fund[4]. Whilst accepting the need for clean air the RHA says it is ‘outraged’ by the plan with chief executive, Richard Burnett, calling for an intelligent, phased approach to support local business, saying: “These plans will be disastrous for the many operators who are unable to absorb or recover the costs of entering the zone.

This is an industry that has to make every penny count. GBP50 per day equates to an additional annual cost of GBP13,000 which will inevitably place many operators in an untenable situation. “Road hauliers play a key role in delivering and maintaining the Leeds economy.

The City Council should support them with measures which give them time to upgrade their trucks so they can keep delivering the goods the city relies on. These charges will make vehicle replacement almost impossible.” Since drafting this item the RHA has taken a similar line regarding the proposed Low Emission Zone (LEZ) for Glasgow which will see pre-Euro VI lorries banned from the city centre by the end of 2022.

The RHA says such cut-off date will be ‘disastrous’ and has called for more clarity of what is proposed saying the timescale is ‘completely unrealistic’. UK – The problems experienced[5] at the Port of Felixstowe[6] last week after the new port management system software was introduced, have largely subsided. Certainly the long queues and extreme waiting times have disappeared but our contacts within the port report that some drivers are still experiencing lengthy delays and extra time should be allowed, with customers informed of potential problems.

Reaction to the delays however included container line Hamburg Sud switching ports on some services to Southampton, reportedly for a five week stint whilst the situation is resolved. Some vessels were forced to discharge then leave without reloading in order to stay on schedule, doubtless adding to the problems for shippers. Similar actions to depart without reloading were announced by Seago a feeder line, and like Hamburg Sud a Maersk subsidiary.

UK – Most companies selling, importing or manufacturing goods find at some stage the need to promote them at trade shows and the like. So how does one go about it when one has little or no experience? This was the question which prompted Berkshire-based Walker Logistics[7] to investigate extending its services into the events field, supporting its clients that take part in trade shows and other temporary promotional events with a new bespoke point-of-sale fulfilment service.

Sales Director William Walker, explains: “Throughout the year a number of our clients take stands at events such as the Hampton Court Flower show and other high profile sports and music festivals and sell their products directly to the public. We can help them by not only picking, packing and delivering the stock that they need for a temporary sales outlet, but also by providing, for example, assistance with building the stand, general set-up and on-demand replenishment if they want us to.

“Of course, at the end of an event we’ll take any unsold goods back in to stock, break down the stand and dispose of any rubbish in any environmentally-friendly way. There are many ways in which logistics service providers can create extra value for a client and we see this as one of them. There is no such thing as a ‘normal contract’ any more.

You simply have to offer more than simple warehousing and distribution if you want to have an edge in this business.” UK – Nestle[8], the world’s largest food and drink company, and XPO Logistics[9], are co-creating a 638,000 square foot distribution centre at the new SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park[10] in Leicestershire, UK. The facility, a digital warehouse of the future, will be occupied predominantly by Nestle for its consumer packaged goods and will function as a test bed environment for XPO technology prototypes prior to global release.

The custom-designed distribution centre, scheduled to complete in 2020, will feature advanced sorting systems and robotics alongside state-of-the-art automation co-developed with Swisslog Logistics Automation[11]. The site’s digital ecosystem will integrate predictive data and intelligent machines with the intention of giving consumers faster, more efficient access to Nestle products. UK – PIE[12], which produces mapping aids for the disabled, motorcyclists and truckers, has released an app to guide lorry drivers around London, ensuring they do not transgress the new wave of parking and navigational restrictions.

PIE says the LLRA app is the only HGV route planning & navigation service compliant with the strict requirements of the London Lorry Control Scheme. The app can be used as evidence to London Councils’ Lorry Control proving a route was authorised prior to the journey. The routing calculations consider a number of factors including vehicle dimensions, London Lorry Control Scheme etc. with integrated turn by turn instructions.

Details can be found here[13]. UK – Contact Attachments[14], which designs and manufactures an extensive range of forklift attachments from its base in Mid Wales, is helping customers to handle long and/or awkward loads through providing additional reach to their existing equipment with a range of jibs to fit fork lifts, telehandlers and loaders. The jibs also support users in effectively lifting loads which are unable to be palletised.

Dave Manuel, Technical Sales Director at Contact Attachments, explained: “Our range of jibs includes fixed length, raised-height and articulating jibs, as well as telescopic jibs for even greater height. Each of our jibs can be supplied as either fork-mounted or carriage-mounted, depending on the precise handling requirements.

In addition to our standard range, we can also custom-design jibs to a customer’s precise specification if required, and recently produced a 12 metre long jib designed to handle 10,000kgs for use within a marine environment. “Ensuring optimum handling safety is always paramount, and using our special jib rating chart, we’re able to rate each of our jibs in line with the capacity of the forklift being used – ensuring a precise match each and every time, and offering peace of mind to the operator that they’ll never overload their equipment. All the jibs in our range have been fully tested and adhere to the strictest health and safety guidelines, as well as ISO 9001 quality procedures.”

US – Crowley Maritime Corporation[15] recently received a Humanitarian Award from Seamen’s Church Institute (SCI[16]) for its relief efforts in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. The award, which was accepted on the behalf of the company’s Puerto Rico employees by Tom Crowley, chairman and CEO, and Jose Nazario, director of finance in San Juan, was presented during the 41st annual Silver Bell Awards Dinner, which is attended by over 700 members from the shipping industry and associated companies. In the aftermath of the September storm, Crowley’s liner services and logistics teams, working with government and commercial customers, played an integral role in the recovery.

The company’s more than 300 union and administrative employees resumed services and reopened company facilities, including a warehouse and the Isla Grande terminal, just two days after the storm passed, and began discharging government and commercial cargo from vessels to support relief efforts on the island within hours of the US Coast Guard reopening the harbour in San Juan. ITALY – Freight forwarder Bollore Logistics[17], which has six facilities across the country, has been awarded TAPA FSR A certification for its Milan-Pantigliate logistics platform. The Transport Asset Protection Association (TAPA) FSR Level A is awarded to sites with the highest degree of security requirements in storage services.

The site, which specialises in fashion and luxury sectors, has therefore satisfied the requirements and now meets all the conditions of protection of goods against acts of theft and crime related to freight. To achieve the standard required a security cage was constructed within the warehouse and a guard post now provides access control. Identification passes with nominated individual access rights are also supported by enhanced video protection and anti-intrusion technology.

WORLDWIDE – The dangers posed by the seemingly inevitable spread of plastics around the globe and putting life itself at risk are finally becoming more widely acknowledged and have been highlighted throughout the press[18] of late. Whilst inevitably a marketing tool for its ‘sustainable swimwear’, SLO Active[19] has recently published a comprehensive review[20] of the horrendous impact of the insidious spread of plastics throughout our oceans, outlined what we might consider doing about it and provided a variety of sources and links which will help those committed to changing the way we shape the future. SPAIN – Following on from last week’s demonstrations[21] across Europe and at the XPO Logistics[22] European AGM in France, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has issued a report supporting its previous allegations of gender bias at the company’s Alovera II warehouse, Guadalajara, Spain which handles goods for distribution on behalf of ecommerce giant Amazon.

The report can be seen in full here[23] and is based on a variety of sources, principally evidence from the trade union representing the majority of XPO Logistics workers at the facility, the Federacion de Servicios para la Movilidad y el Consumo (FeSMC) of the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT). The company conducts the majority of its European operations through its subsidiary, XPO Logistics Europe SA, in which it holds an 86.25% controlling interest. YEMEN – Latest reports we have from the country indicate that, despite local forces backed by the Saudi led coalition taking Hodeidah airport en route to the city’s port, this vital maritime artery for food and supplies entering the country still remains open for business and under the control of opposing forces.

Despite the Houthi backed opposition coming under attack at the port, reportedly by land, sea and air in the ‘Battle of Al Hudaydah[24]‘ , they have stated they are confident they will maintain control of facilities which handle 70+% of the country’s vital imports. Lisa Grande, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Yemen said this week there is no other option to maintain the flow of essential aid entering Yemen saying ‘everything depends on that port’. Three years of war have put upward of 3 million people at risk of starvation if the food supplies dry up for only a few days.

Photo: Hodeidah receives the bulk of the country’s food stocks.

A Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage SectorsA Weekly Look at Some Stories from the Freight Forwarding, Logistics and Road Haulage Sectors


  1. ^ RHA (www.rha.uk.net)
  2. ^ Leeds City Council (www.leeds.gov.uk)
  3. ^ recent public consultation (www.leeds.gov.uk)
  4. ^ Clean Air Fund (www.gov.uk)
  5. ^ problems experienced (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  6. ^ Port of Felixstowe (www.portoffelixstowe.co.uk)
  7. ^ Walker Logistics (www.walkerlogistics.com)
  8. ^ Nestle (www.nestle.co.uk)
  9. ^ XPO Logistics (www.xpo.com)
  10. ^ SEGRO East Midlands Gateway Logistics Park (slp-emg.com)
  11. ^ Swisslog Logistics Automation (www.swisslog.com)
  12. ^ PIE (www.thepieguide.com)
  13. ^ can be found here (www.londonlorryrouteapprover.com)
  14. ^ Contact Attachments (www.forklift-attachments.co.uk)
  15. ^ Crowley Maritime Corporation (www.crowley.com)
  16. ^ SCI (seamenschurch.org)
  17. ^ Bollore Logistics (www.bollore-logistics.com)
  18. ^ throughout the press (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  19. ^ SLO Active (sloactive.com)
  20. ^ comprehensive review (sloactive.com)
  21. ^ last week’s demonstrations (www.handyshippingguide.com)
  22. ^ XPO Logistics (www.xpo.com)
  23. ^ seen in full here (www.itfglobal.org)
  24. ^ Battle of Al Hudaydah (en.wikipedia.org)

From Road Haulage to Shipping and Freight Forwarding

Staff Changes Announced Throughout the Industry DENMARK – The weekly look at staff moves in the shipping, forwarding and logistics sectors start with a major appointment at the largest of the container lines with Carolina Dybeck Happe named to assume responsibility as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of AP Moller – Maersk A/S[1], effective no later than January 1, 2019, when she will also join the company’s Executive Board.

GERMANY – The Supervisory Board of Jungheinrich[2] has made several changes to the responsibilities of the Management Board. The new Board Member for Marketing and Sales will be Christian Erlach, taking over from Dr Lars Brzoska, who becomes the Board Member for Technology. Both effective September 1.

Brzoska is set to take over as Chairman of the Board from during 2019, succeeding Hans-Georg Frey who is planning to stand for election to the supervisory Board next year. Current Supervisory Board Chairman, Jurgen Peddinghaus, will resign his seat in 2019. Frey will succeed him in this position, in accordance with the wishes of the shareholder families Wolf and Lange.

GERMANY – Ceva Logistics[3] has announced Niels Weithe to the newly created position of Global Head of eCommerce. Based in Germany, Weithe will report directly to Chief Operating Officer of Contract Logistics, Brett Bissell. He joins the company from Arvato where he was President of its consumer products division.

SWEDEN – The Swedish Club[4] has announced five new Members to join its Board. Dr Zou Yingying, Deputy General Legal Counsel and General Manager of the Legal Department of China Merchants Energy Shipping; Gu Zhongdong, Deputy Managing Director of Cosco Shipping Lines; Captain Thanasis Beis, Managing Director of Costamare Shipping; Mikael Livijn, General Counsel Wallenius Lines, Wallenius Marine; Twinchok Tanthuwanit, Owner Representative of Regional Container Lines. UK – The board of David MacBrayne has confirmed Robbie Drummond as Managing Director of CalMac Ferries[5] role which he has served in an interim capacity since February.

UK – XL Catlin[6] has announced the appointment of Andrew Coutts to the position of Global Practice Leader for Cargo. Coutts joins XL Catlin from Brit Global Specialty, where he worked for nearly 10 years as Cargo Underwriter. He has more than 30 years’ experience in the marine cargo insurance industry and has held several positions within industry trade bodies, including the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) and the International Underwriting Association (IUA).

UK – Shipping agency software supplier Callisto Agency Systems[7] has appointed Travis Monson as its new Chief Executive Officer. Monson has spent the last 15 years with Monson Agencies Australia and over 26 years in the shipping agency business. UK – Martin Hay has been appointed to the position of Managing Director for Scania (Great Britain)[8], effective September 1.

He will succeed Claes Jacobsson, who is returning to Sweden to take up a role within Scania in Sodertalje. UK – Richard Wheeler has been named to lead the team at Rossetts Commercials[9], the Mercedes-Benz van dealer for Surrey, Sussex, and parts of Hampshire. Nick Thomas has alsp been named as the new Site Manager for the company’s Aldershot branch.

INDIA – ECU Worldwide[10], logistics solutions firm and part of India-based Allcargo Logistics, has appointed Ashish Mathur as Group Chief Information Officer. Mathur has over 28 years of experience across multi-national organisations and diverse industries, most recently working in a similar role at Maersk. US – Port Houston[11] has named John Moseley Chief Commercial Officer, succeeding Ricky Kunz who has elected to retire from the Port of Houston Authority.

Moseley served as Senior Director of Trade Development since 2010. US – Danielle Smith, Associate Vice President and Transportation Operations Manager at the Denver office of Michael Baker International, has been elected to the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS[12]) International Board of Directors as the Treasurer. US – CIT Group[13] has announced Randy Kaploe as its new Senior Vice President to lead the Rail division’s sales efforts along the US Gulf Coast, in Mexico and in Western Canada.

In addition, he assumes responsibility for managing sales involving the plastic hopper and tank car leasing platforms. Kaploe succeeds Jeff Lytle, who became President of the Rail unit in April. US – Titan International[14] has named David Martin to the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, effective since June 14.

He assumes the additional role of the company’s principal financial officer. Martin reports directly to President and Chief Executive Officer, Paul Reitz. Amy Evans has served as Titan’s Interim Chief Financial Officer since May 2.

Evans will continue in her role as Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer and will continue as the Company’s principal accounting officer. US – General Logistics Systems (GLS[15]) has appointed Ivan Hofmann as CEO of GLS US, effective immediately. He previously held the role of EVP and COO of FedEx Ground following the acquisition of Roadway Package Systems.

In his role, which will be part-time, Hofmann will report to Rico Back, CEO Royal Mail. CANADA – Kathy Fox has been reappointed to the Canadian Transportation Accident Investigation and Safety Board (TSB[16]). A Member of the Board since July 2007, Fox will continue to serve as Board Chair, a position to which she was first appointed in August 2014.

Her appointment to an additional five year term is effective August 21.

From Road Haulage to Shipping and Freight ForwardingFrom Road Haulage to Shipping and Freight Forwarding


  1. ^ AP Moller – Maersk A/S (maersk.com)
  2. ^ Jungheinrich (jungheinrich.com)
  3. ^ Ceva Logistics (cevalogistics.com)
  4. ^ The Swedish Club (www.swedishclub.com)
  5. ^ CalMac Ferries (calmac.co.uk)
  6. ^ XL Catlin (xlcatlin.com)
  7. ^ Callisto Agency Systems (my-a3.com)
  8. ^ Scania (Great Britain) (scania.com)
  9. ^ Rossetts Commercials (rossetts.co.uk)
  10. ^ ECU Worldwide (ecuworldwide.com)
  11. ^ Port Houston (porthouston.com)
  12. ^ WTS (wtsinternational.org)
  13. ^ CIT Group (cit.com)
  14. ^ Titan International (titan-intl.com)
  15. ^ GLS (gls-group.eu)
  16. ^ TSB (tsb.gc.ca)

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