Star Bulk: Back in the big time


Athens: The remarkable turnaround in fortunes in Greece’s Star Bulk Carriers Corp is set to unleash a period of fleet expansion. Led by Spyros Capralos, the New York-listed firm has undergone debt restructuring and is now raising capital. Its market cap has gone from a low of just $30m to its current healthy standing of $200m, a figure that is likely to rise if the current nascent capesize bullrun continues, something Capralos is cautiously confident it will.

“The cape rally came faster than people expected,” Capralos admits, cautioning however that this ship segment is notoriously volatile. The current uptick that has seen capes trading for more than $40,000 this week is down to China restocking, he says. 

The fundamentals of the sector are better, he reckons. “Oversupply is over and demand continues to be healthy. The fundamentals are there for a healthy market but there is a risk owners will start ordering,” he says. 

In the summer Star Bulk ordered two capes at Shanghai Waigaoqiao Shipbuilding and two ultramaxes in Japan. “We will continue our fleet expansion programme,” Capralos confirms. 

Other reasons for optimism, according to Capralos, are that there are fewer banks around so less easy money. 

“It is also good that owners today are reluctant to place orders at second rate yards,” he adds. 

He concludes by noting how scrapping is down and predicts that slow steaming is likely to go. 

NEED TO KNOW:  Star Bulk Carriers Corp
New York-listed Greek entity with 13 ships on the water and four newbuilds to deliver in 2015/16. Fleet a mix of capesizes, supramaxes and ultramaxes. Also manages nine third party vessels. Managed fleet could reach 31 ships by 2015.

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