Hamilton, Bermuda June 24, 2015
As we approach the halfway point of 2015, I’d like to share with you some of my views on the current state of the tanker market and on our business in general. We are in the midst of an interesting period during which the tanker market is showing positive developments, a point we discussed in our first quarterly report earlier this year.
The decline of the price of oil coupled with minimal tanker fleet growth are among the factors behind this gratifying development for Nordic American. In our previous communications to investors, we have talked about the trends in tanker demand and supply, trends that have helped make this market such a solid one.
Our business is sustainable both in strong and weak markets based upon simplicity, transparency and predictability. NAT has a very high degree of liquidity in the stock; at this time about 1.5 million shares are bought and sold every day. We have achieved such good results by sticking to our strategy, which can be summarized as follows:
- Expansion of a homogeneous fleet
- The payment of dividend every quarter
- Limited debt and a strong balance sheet
- Maintenance of a top quality fleet
- Aligned interests between shareholders and management
- A low cash breakeven point through effective management.
For the second quarter of 2015, we believe that NAT will achieve rates generally at the same level as in the first quarter of 2015. This should result in a strong dividend for 2Q2015 too, a dividend which will be announced in mid-July. As you know, we have retained some cashflow in recent quarters – this reflects our strategy of effectively managing risk and working towards the long term benefit of shareholders. Cash held back will contribute to the financing of fleet expansion.
We have two newbuildings joining the fleet in 2016 and 2017, adding further to our dividend and earnings capacity. In addition, we continue to assess acquisition opportunities. At the same time, the operational record of our fleet is excellent. The high technical standard of our suezmax fleet is underscored by the good vetting statistics that emerge from the inspection of our ships by clients. Our vessels are performing very well – underlining that it is not age, but quality that matters. The major oil companies strongly demand quality vessels, which is what NAT stands for. The NAT established brand is linked to safety for assets and for crews while at the same time we have a strong focus on protection of the environment.
Our steady relationship with a subsidiary of the US based oil giant ExxonMobil is now in its fourth year. In early June this year the cooperation was extended for an additional year. It is the type of freight agreement that is good for our client and for Nordic American.
Our strategy of maintaining a strong balance sheet and focusing on the quality of our operations and vessels is quite literally paying dividends. The company is in an excellent position to grow the fleet. The two newbuildings will not require further equity from the capital markets. Based on our strategy, NAT has the financial capacity to increase the fleet beyond 24 units, by a ship or two, without issuing stock.
We are resisting the temptation to make large fleet acquisitions. Those who have followed the NAT story for some time, know we prefer to grow in a considered and deliberate way. We see that some other players, both public and private, have suffered as a result of what I like to call gigantomania. Our approach to risk management is to take one step at a time, always considering the many pitfalls of large and complicated transactions.
We also avoid mergers for the same reasons. NAT is, and has always been, vastly different from other tanker companies. We believe that our lean model and focus on shareholder value is far superior to “empire building”, which is often more for the benefit of management than shareholders. As one of the largest shareholders myself, please rest assured that you and I are all literally in the same boat. We believe 2015 is shaping up to be a great year for Nordic American.
I wish you and your families all the best for the summer. As always, please feel free to communicate your views to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Chairman & CEO
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
Matters discussed in this press release may constitute forward-looking statements. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides safe harbor protections for forward-looking statements in order to encourage companies to provide prospective information about their business. Forward-looking statements include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts.
The Company desires to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 and is including this cautionary statement in connection with this safe harbor legislation. The words “believe,” “anticipate,” “intend,” “estimate,” “forecast,” “project,” “plan,” “potential,” “will,” “may,” “should,” “expect,” “pending” and similar expressions identify forward-looking statements.
The forward-looking statements in this press release are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, our management’s examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although we believe that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, we cannot assure you that we will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections. We undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
Important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include the strength of world economies and currencies, general market conditions, including fluctuations in charter rates and vessel values, changes in demand in the tanker market, as a result of changes in OPEC’s petroleum production levels and world wide oil consumption and storage, changes in our operating expenses, including bunker prices, drydocking and insurance costs, the market for our vessels, availability of financing and refinancing, changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities, potential liability from pending or future litigation, general domestic and international political conditions, potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents or political events, vessels breakdowns and instances of off-hires and other important factors described from time to time in the reports filed by the Company with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the prospectus and related prospectus supplement, our Annual Report on Form 20-F, and our reports on Form 6-K.
Jacob Ellefsen, VP Research & IR
Nordic American Tankers Limited
Tel: + 33 678 631 959 or + 377 93 25 89 07
Turid M. Sørensen, CFO & EVP
Nordic American Tankers Limited
Tel: +47 33 42 73 00 or +47 90 57 29 27
Rolf Amundsen, Advisor
Nordic American Tankers Limited
Tel: +1 800 601 9079 or + 47 908 26 906
Gary J. Wolfe
Seward & Kissel LLP, New York, USA
Tel: +1 212 574 1223