Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Can't Make Money in Shipping

Well, I can't. Maybe you are better at it. Before going on vacation I closed my Diana Containerships (DCIX) position. Huge loss, more than 60%.
When I bought it in March 2013, it looked like a reasonable investment. Economy of the whole world is recovering, trade, especially trade in finished goods, is blooming. Most finished goods are shipped in containers. Should be good for container shipping companies, right? Here comes DCIX. Unlike others it's very transparent. You can go to the company's website and see current and near future ship employment, with rates and commissions. Company usually buys ships which are already employed, choosing moment right, or so it seems.
What I didn't think about is competition. There are a lot of ships entering service right now. more than enough to carry increasing trade. And, despite increasing trade, rates are going down. Right now they are at the point of zero margin. And this isn't the end of it. I decided to sell DCIX when I saw this article. The problem isn't that Maersk is building the biggest container ship in the world. The problem is that Maersk is building 9 of them right now. Which means that shipping capacity of post-panamax ships (those which can't travel through Panama Canal) is increasing a lot. That's the segment in which DCIX was trying to make money lately.
Lesson learned. When analysing any business, main attention should be paid to supply and demand in the industry, everything else comes after that. Demand might be increasing, but if supply is increasing faster, there is no money to be made.

Disclaimer: I don't have any positions in companies mentioned in this article.

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