2018: Focus on new times ahead of us

The initial expectations to 2018 were cautious but after the market increased significantly in Q4 2017 and the trend continued into 2018. We saw a market which on the Baltic Supra Index (BSI) was around 20% higher than 2017 with an average market of 9.168 vs the 11.197 recorded in 2018. Already in Q1 2018, which is normally lower than the other quarters, the average rate was 10.600 which was significantly higher than the average of 2017 of 9.168. This was later in the year followed by a very strong August to October market averaging 12.228. The market peaked in October with an average rate of 12.749, and then corrected down in both Supramax and Panamax, ending the year in the BSI on 10.857 for December.

A new Ultrabulk representative office was opened in Sydney during the year. The office’s special focus is on our Fareast and Oceanican Handysize markets.

Overall, the fleet size was steady this year, and Ultrabulk operated an average around 146 vessels, similar to 2017. The long-term core fleet grew by 4 units in 2018 to reach 49 by the end of the year. And additional 7 vessels will be delivered in 2019 and 2020. This will include a number of scrubber fitted vessels.

For Ultrabulk 2018 was a year with increased focus on improving our internal processes and data accuracy. The goal of this drive is to improve efficiency as well as ensure the best data to support business decisions going forward. As a part of the project Ultrabulk has increased the priority in business related IT initiatives during the year. Amongst others, a new software robot was initiated and tested as a possibility to automate the payment process. Tests also took place of a new product enabling an efficient handling of increasing incoming emails. It is anticipated that these tests will be completed in early part of 2019 and thereafter fully implemented.

Also, in 2018 Ultrabulk focused on introducing new technologies to improve operational margins for the benefit of our clients and partners. The continued focused on operational excellence ties us closer to our clients and is a vital part of the service delivered to our partners.

Outlook

Going forward, the world economy is still looking relatively strong and we expect similar GDP growth as we have seen this year. There is quite some uncertainty on the world market amongst other stemming from USAs dispute with China and a trend towards protectionism in general. This could become a threat to an otherwise positive forecast on the world economy. Also the new Sulphur cap coming into force on 1st of January 2020 will become a game changer.

We do expect that the changes in the market around the Sulphur cap due for implementation by January 2020, presents an opportunity as much as a risk, and we believe we have positioned ourselves to benefit from same.

Although 2019 has started with a bigger than expected dip in the market, we expect another strong market in line with 2018, with a peak in Q4 2019 when the impact of the Sulphur cap implementation will be on the rise. Going forward we expect the strength to continue in 2020.

In 2018 Ultrabulk succeeded to further enhance a 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 team 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 130-165 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 ...