Stolt-Nielsen reports varied first-quarter results

Stolt-Nielsen Limited’s unaudited results for the first quarter (ended 29 February 2016) reveal a largely solid start to the year with a positive outlook for the company’s Tankers and Terminals divisions, but ongoing pressures on the Tank Containers market.

Net profit attributable to shareholders in the first quarter was $30.4m, with revenue of $464m, compared with a net profit of $21.4m, with revenue of $494.6m, in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Points of note in comparison to the previous quarter included:

  • Stolt Tankers reported an operating profit of $31.2m, compared with $35.4m, reflecting the impact of fewer operating days in the first quarter
  • The Stolt Tankers Joint Service Sailed-in Time-Charter Index was 0.77, unchanged from the fourth quarter.
  • Stolthaven Terminals reported an operating profit of $10.5m, up from $2.6m in the previous quarter when results were held down by write-downs of certain assets, accelerated depreciation and settlements of customer claims
  • Stolt Tank Containers reported an operating profit of $11.8m, down from $13.1m, as downward pressure on pricing continued
  • Stolt Sea Farm reported an operating profit of $5.5m, compared with an operating loss of $2.5m
  • Corporate and Other reported an operating loss of $1.2m, compared with an operating loss of $5m.

Niels G Stolt-Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer of Stolt-Nielsen Limited, said: “Stolt Tankers had another good quarter, helped by a continued strong spot market and low bunker costs. This was despite the impact of fewer operating days, as two of our deep-sea ships were out of service and two more were recycled during the period. Stolthaven Terminals reported improved quarter-on-quarter results, but the improvement was relative to a weak fourth quarter, in which results were held down by the negative effects of a number of one-time items. Stolt Tank Containers reported a decrease in operating results for the quarter, as price competition more than offset an increase in shipments. Stolt Sea Farm had a good quarter, consistent with the positive impact of seasonal holiday sales.

“Looking forward, at Stolt Tankers we expect the second quarter and possibly the third to look much like the first quarter, though with fewer lost operating days. The longer term outlook for Tankers hinges on how long the spot market holds up. Thanks to lower feedstock costs, chemical exports out of the US Gulf have been good-one of the few bright spots in an otherwise lacklustre global market. We remain concerned about the impact of the orderbook, though delays and cancellations seem increasingly likely. Stolthaven Terminals is on the road to recovery, and we expect to see small, gradual quarterly improvements this year. That said, ongoing actions to increase utilisation and enhance both profitability and operational performance are not expected to fully impact results until 2017. Stolt Tank Containers is facing increased competition, as we have noted before, but we continue to see growth opportunities ahead for this business.”