Belships’ operating income for the 4th quarter 2006 amounted to USD 14,003,000 (4th quarter 2005: USD 15,860,000). The company’s operating profit amounted to USD 1,960,000 (USD 1,113,000) The positive profit development is mainly related to Elkem Chartering’s Handysize Operation.
Profit after tax for the 4th quarter amounted to USD 939,000 (USD 511,000).
The operating profit for the year amounted to USD 7,034, 000 (USD 7,636,000), and profit after tax was USD 6,027,000 (USD 3,925,000). The profit after tax is influenced by the positive outcome of the tax issue in Singapore reported earlier.
The report for the 4th quarter has been submitted in accordance with IAS 34. For reconciliation with previous annual and quarterly accounts according to generally accepted accounting practices in Norway, we refer to the transition document published previously.
The dry cargo market improved further during the 4th quarter. The basis for this is a steady increase in Chinese ore import, increased use of coal in the production of electric power and the fact that newbuildings planned for delivery during the quarter, to a large extent were moved forward into 2007.
Elkem Chartering’s profit for the 4th quarter was better than anticipated. The Handysize Operation contributed to the improved profit both through the spot market and an almost ideal positioning with regard to our own contract cargo. The Handymax ships continued on their regular charter parties with results as anticipated.
Belships’ own tonnage, M/S Belnor and M/S Belisland, continued their charter parties with results as anticipated.
FINANCIAL AND OTHER ISSUES
The company’s solidity and financial position strengthened during the 4th quarter. As per 31 December, the group’s liquidity amounted to USD 33.8 mill. compared to USD 33.5 mill. at 30 September.
The company’s mortgage debt at the end of the 4th quarter amounted to USD 11.8 mill. The loan is repaid by semi-annual instalments of USD 1.5 mill. In addition the company has a bond issue amounting to USD 15.8 mill. due in 2011.
At the end of the year, the book value per share was NOK 5.53, while the book equity-to-assets ratio came to 37.66%. The market value of M/S Belnor is significantly higher than the book value.
The board will propose to the general meeting a payment of dividend of NOK 0.75 per share.
During the 4th quarter Belships acquired 324,000 own shares at an average cost price of NOK 9.69 per share. At year-end the company owned 726,000 own shares at an average cost price of NOK 9.34 per share.
So far the dry cargo market has weakened slightly in 2007, and this is inter alia related to the delivery of newbuildings which have been delayed from the 4th quarter of 2006. A clarification of the market trends is expected after the Chinese New Year at the end of February. It is worth noting that Chinese steel producers already in January signed contracts with the largest suppliers of iron ore for the fiscal year starting in April. This is different from last year, when the price negotiations stretched into June and led to considerable uncertainty.
The Handymax ship M/S Legend Phoenix has been fixed for a period of 3 years starting in April 2007, which will result in a profit contribution in Belships of approx. USD 2 mill per year. The Board anticipates a satisfactory result for the 1st quarter 2007.
Oslo, 14th February 2007
The Board of BELSHIPS ASA