Bulkers are a “screaming buy” and now is one of the best-ever times to start acquiring them – but expect the market crisis to wipe out some of shipping’s most famous names, Leon Patitsas, founder and CEO of Atlas Maritime, said today.
“In order to succeed in shipping, you need to buy low,” Patitsas told the Marine Money conference in London. “That’s the only rule, which unfortunately has been violated by many, especially by public companies.”
“Private equity guys are running for the exits – so it’s a good time to buy when everybody wants to sell,” he said.
Owners with lots of liquidity and as little leverage as possible will be best placed to buy vessels at the bottom of the market cycle and profit from the eventual upswing in rates and asset values, Patitsas told delegates. Privately owned companies, such as his own, will have the flexibility to do so, he said.
“When we were buying [aframax tankers] in 2012, everybody thought we were crazy,” he said of Atlas’ previous acquisitions, made at a time when dry shipping markets were stronger than those for tankers and most newbuilding orders were for bulkers.
But the crisis will have its casualties, he continued. The shipping crisis of the 1980s saw many of Greece’s top 10 names in shipping replaced by new players and entities, which still prevail today. Patitsas expects history to repeat itself if bulker freight rates remain unsustainably low.