Monday, December 27, 2004

Boat Gambling

For the past two years ocean shippers have had the wind behind them. Their vessels will carry 4.6 billion tons of oil and dry bulk cargo (iron, coal and so on) this year, up 10% since 2002, while container traffic will increase 23% over 2002 levels, says Clarkson Research Studies. All categories are expected to keep growing in 2005.

Given the inflexibility, at least in the short term, in the supply of ships, that uptick in demand translates into a huge gain in profitability for shipowners. This year's net income at shipowner OMICorp. should be up better than tenfold from two years ago. Share prices are
up, too, although not as steeply. Standard & Poor's index of maritime stocks has risen 83% since 2002 versus 29% for the S&P 500.

The party isn't over, says Mark Coffelt, chief investment officer at First Austin Capital Management. He began buying tanker stocks a year ago for his $43 million Texas Capital Value Fund. He isn't about to jettison his holdings.

Full story at Forbes.com