2017: A stronger market with more volatility

After the all-time low market in 2016, expectations for 2017 were cautious. But the dry bulk market turned out much stronger than our forecast. The market during the first quarter of 2017 was higher than expected. The Baltic Supra Index (BSI), which was average USD 6,601 per day in 2016 (down 5% from 2015), increased to USD 9,760 per day by end of March 2017 – ending the first quarter at average USD 8,103 per day. Second quarter improved to USD 8,785 per day and third quarter to USD 9,549 per day before a strong grain season brought some further improvements in the final quarter of 2017 which ended at average USD 11,021 per day. This helped the overall average for 2017 to end at USD 9,345 per day representing a 41% increase compared to 2016.

The Ultrabulk African Services was established during the second quarter 2017 with the opening of the Cape Town office in order to strengthen the presence on the African continent and develop the trading routes to and from Africa. The activity had a good start and clients have received it in a positive way. Ultrabulk Parcel Service and the specialised MPP Service which focuses on the Europe/Africa/Europe trades have likewise had a good development. These additional services provide clients with an even more diversified product range, and have resulted in cross segment synergies and opportunities.

In 2017, Ultrabulk continued the Pop-Up Office concept with several new Pop-Up Offices around the world, incl. Buenos Aires, London, Geneva, Dubai, Tokyo, Madrid, Houston and Barcelona, some in cooperation with other Ultranav companies. The aim is to enhance the personal relationships with brokers, cargo clients, vessel providers and agents. By meeting customers and partners face-to-face and continue to develop our partnerships, Ultrabulk is living the company motto; A partner you can trust.

On the commercial side, Ultrabulk managed to conclude new COAs in new trades which allows for further growth.

Also in a new collaboration scheme, Ultrabulk is commercially managing four 32,000 dwt MPP vessels on behalf of a financial institution. Two vessels are already delivered and two are expected to be delivered early 2018. ­Ultrabulk introduced several new operational initiatives in 2017, which allowed us to continue proving operational excellence towards our clients and partners, exploring together ways to reduce rain-down-time in some cases. Such operational innovation and initiatives help us cementing the relationships with our partners, and will help us building on such relationships.

Outlook

With 2018 starting at a high level, consecutive quarterly developments are expected to be in line with this level. 2018 is expected to see demand growth of about 3% and fleet growth of about 2.5%. The world economy is looking stronger, but there is still reason for concerns for the dry bulk market.

Looking further ahead, the uncertainty increases. By 2020, the new global environmental 0.5 SOX regulation will be in place, and it is expected that the major part of the fleet will run on low sulphur fuel at a much higher cost. Increased fuel costs will lead to more slow steaming. The younger part of the fleet might invest in scrubbers, which will allow the vessels to run on the cheaper HFO.

Ultrabulk has a very strong base resting on our values and our vision to be your preferred partner in global dry bulk shipping. Our dedicated team is relentlessly working to meet our customers’ ever-changing needs, and it is because of the efforts of our staff and the solid foundation of our business that we continue to be “a partner you can trust”.


Business built on partnerships

Ultrabulk runs a business platform based on customer needs. Close customers are considered as partners and considerable effort is put into visualising and meeting their needs. Long-term perspectives drive investments, aimed at building personal relations and cooperations. Resources are allocated to analyse and improve operations cost efficiency and investments are made on an ongoing basis in port equipment and facilities in order to improve operations further and as an integrated part of the long-term business platform.

Customers are served from offices around the world located in Chile, Brazil, USA, Germany, Denmark (H/O), South Africa, Singapore and Australia. The Australian office opened in Sydney in March 2018 to better serve our Australian partners and the trades from and to the Australian continent. Each office is duly empowered with sufficient authority to make the right business decisions in a quick and efficient manner.

Partnerships with customers are the core of our business. They are supplemented with joint ventures which have been established for the ownership of vessels, as well as cargo handling projects, on the basis of a close cooperation with key customers around the globe. Each joint operation plays an important role in our long-term business strategy.

Risk management is an integrated part of the business platform. Focus is on strict counterpart control both prior to entering agreements and on a current basis. The control systems assist in relation to monitoring developments and ensuring risk is constrained at acceptable pre-defined levels, which are duly aligned with our strategy and commensurate with our financial strength.

Ultrabulk is primarily an operator, increasingly supported by a growing shipowning side. Core segments and customers are served via a modern, diversified fleet of around 130-160 vessels including MPP, Handysize, Handymax, Supramax, Panamax and Kamsarmax vessels. The core fleet consists of around 44 long-term vessels including both time chartered,

We build long-term partnerships based on integrity, excellence, safety and passion.
 

owned and partly owned vessels. The company is an operator with an industrial focus and de­cades of experience handling traditional dry cargoes such as coal, metals, concentrates, grain, fertilizer and bio fuels.

Ultrabulk also offers specialised services in order to meet customers’ requirements for Parcel and MPP Services. The Parcel Service offers regular sailings within the Atlantic and serves trades to the Americas. The MPP Service offers regular sailings from the Baltic, UK, Continent, Mediterranean, Adriatic and Black Sea to East and South Africa, including islands either via West Africa or Red Sea and back loading from Mozambique and South Africa to the Mediterranean, Continent, UK and Baltic. 


An operator with an industrial focus

Our partnership philosophy is based on long-term relationships, combining cargo contracts and tonnage procurement into the vital core of the Ultrabulk business model. These long-term partnerships are the basis for a stable platform and sustainable future growth.


A key factor to ensuring customer satisfaction rests with our experienced and professional team of operators, strategically located in offices around the world and supported by a state-of-the-art back-office system. They work closely together and with partners, taking pro-active steps day and night, in order to take advantage of opportunities and avoid problems escalating. Our system positively supports these efforts to provide the service level our partners need and expect of us,

by ensuring focus is maintained on critical factors at all times. It also facilitates strict risk management and is a fully integrated part of the communication system. A designated operator with specialised commodity, regional and trade knowledge is allocated to each partner. This ensures a smooth dialogue and creates a constructive environment, where we understand and meet our partners’ requirements and priorities at all times.


 

»Understanding our partners business is essential to us, as we strive to deliver the best possible transportation solution each and every time.«

Hans-Christian Olesen, Executive Vice President, Head of Panamax and Supramax


We remain …
A partner you can trust ...