A Shipper Made to Excel

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Say what you will about the precipitous decline in commodity stocks, but global demand for stuff has not dried up overnight.

Dry bulk shipper Excel Maritime (NYSE: EXM  ) blew second-quarter expectations out of the water. Its $2.58 per share in adjusted net earnings proved swimmingly superior to analysts' estimates of $1.47.

Revenue rose 450% to $205.5 million. Before you get too excited, though, keep in mind that this figure includes $75.7 million in non-cash gains and additional revenue from the company's April-completed acquisition of Quintana Maritime. Strong fundamentals certainly contributed, though, with Excel posting a 33% improvement in the average time charter equivalent (TCE) rate to more than $33,000 per day.

With the Quintana acquisition in hand, Excel now aims to transform the fleet. The bulk (pun intended) of its existing fleet consists of carriers in the 70,000-80,000 deadweight ton (DWT) range, which serve clients like agriculture giant Bunge (NYSE: BG  ) and diversified miner BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP  ) . Steaming forward, the company intends to acquire eight new 180,000-DWT capesize megacarriers by year-end 2010.

However, unlike smaller ship specialist Eagle Bulk Shipping (Nasdaq: EGLE  ) , Excel has inked contracts for only three of those eight new builds. When considered alongside the company's considerable debt load, I'm concerned about Excel's ability to execute its fleet expansion plan.

Even if the growth rates of some emerging markets do slow a bit from their current breakneck speeds, there is real momentum behind the increasing appetite for the building blocks of modern life. If dry bulk charter rates remain strong, as I suspect they will for some time, the company should at least enjoy solid cash flow to help pay down the debt. Right now, Excel and its competitors are making a killing carting this stuff across the oceans. Time will tell whether this shipper will continue to excel.

Further fully loaded Foolishness:

The "dry bulk shipping" tag within Motley Fool CAPS lists 16 companies that site members have rated. Join our online community today, and share your views on the offerings in this sector or any other. CAPS is free and fun!

Fool contributor Christopher Barker believes his rapid descent from the ranks of CAPS All-Stars could spell opportunity for the timely Fool. He can be found blogging actively and acting Foolishly within the CAPS community under the username TMFSinchiruna. He owns shares of BHP Billiton and Diana Shipping. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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  • Report this Comment On November 13, 2008, at 2:21 PM, drax009 wrote:

    "If dry bulk charter rates remain strong, as I suspect they will for some time"..................

    Great call. The BDI hit 800. You've been dead wrong on just about everything. You didn't have the guts to say buy this stock, but you actually did say just that in a cowardly, roundabout way.

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