Stolt-Nielsen, the listed London-based chemical tanker, tank terminal, and tank containers group, has reported a higher profit for both the third quarter of 2015 and the first nine months of its financial year, largely attributed to the lower bunker costs of its 150 strong chemical tanker fleet.
Group net profit rose to USD30.3 million in the three months to 31 August from USD14.6 million in the same period last year. Revenues fell to USD500.7 million from USD545.4 million.
In the first nine months of its financial year the group reported a rise in net profit to USD111.9 million from USD64.4 million. Revenues decreased again, to USD1.48 billion from USD1.61 billion.
Commenting on the results, CEO Niels G Stolt-Nielsen said, “The continued improvements we see in Stolt Tankers were not because of increased cargo volumes and freight rates but because bunker costs were lower combined with a strong US dollar.
“Volumes from our contract customers remained flat for the quarter but we have been able to pick up additional volumes in the spot market. While bunker prices have fallen, spot rates have remained flat. We suspect the current spot rates reflect the strength of the product market, which has kept swing tonnage away from our niche markets.”
Stolt Tankers, the group’s chemical carrier unit, reported a rise in operating profit to USD3.7 million in the latest quarter from USD8.4 million a year earlier, lifted by a fall in bunker price, although the price of bunkers had stabilised on the levels of the second quarter of the current financial year.
“Deepsea revenue was up slightly in the third quarter, as a marginal decline in freight revenue was offset by higher demurrage, mainly due to billing delays in the prior quarter. In addition, reimbursements to contract customers from COA (contract of affreightment) bunker surcharge clauses declined to USD9.9 million in the third quarter, from USD11.2 million in the second quarter,” the company said.
Average freight rates were essentially unchanged in the quarter. “Regional fleet revenue rose by 8.1% in the third quarter. Higher revenue in the intra-European fleet reflected the addition of the three Odfjell ships to that fleet during the quarter, along with an uptick in overall utilisation,” it added.
European barging revenue was also up, as low water on the Rhine prevented barges from being fully loaded, resulting in a shortage of tonnage.
Stolt Terminals, the tank terminal unit, reported a fall in operating profit to USD6.4 million in the latest quarter from USD16.2 million a year earlier on lower capacity utilisation, while the figure for the tank container business fell slightly, to USD15.6 million from USD17.6 million.