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Buy ships now before prices rise: Stopford

Now is the time to delve into the S&P market before prices start to creap up, the world’s most famous shipping analyst, Dr Martin Stopford, told delegates attending a conference in Shanghai today. The president of Clarkson Platou Research Services noted how many owners he had been speaking with in the past couple of weeks had been saying they were waiting until early next year to make investments. Stopford advised executives attending the Senior Maritime Forum at Marintec China that this was a mistake.

“Prices today are very competitive, and there are ships on the market too,” Stopford said. Five-year-old aframaxes are priced at $37m now and similarly aged panamax bulkers are going for $15m, the author of Maritime Economics said.

Stopford discussed the dry bulk trades, dismissing some who compare today’s markets with the depths of the bear markets of the 1980s.
“The 1980s was a much more aggressive market than we have today,” Stopford said, suggesting the average earnings level today is more like the 1990s: “Difficult but not life threatening”.

Turning to China, Stopford noted that this year the republic’s seaborne imports and exports will peak out, the first time there has been a decline since 1998.

Concluding, Stopford looked at the shipbuilding sector, and warned that tough times are likely to continue for the sector, with the analyst suggesting there was as much as a 45% overcapacity in shipyards.

“Overcapacity is likely to create commercial pressures,” Stopford warned.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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