RESEARCH from VesselsValue shows that the unloved panamax sector saw a return to form last year with both the total volume of sales and valuation of vessels rising.
The total number of 3,000 TEU-5,000 TEU classic panamaxes being traded per month rose to new monthly peaks in 2017. 'activity has tapered off at the start of 2018, but the current value of a 10-year-old ship at US$15.74 million is still discounted when compared with the five-year ($18.32 million) and 25-year ($37.13 million) median values,' VesselsValue said.
The value of a fixed-age five-year-old 4,275 TEU classic panamax doubled during 2017 to $15.7 million.
Navios Maritime Containers was the leading buyer, although some of these were shifted from other Navios group companies after originally being acquired from Rickmers Maritime. Additional units were bought from German owners or banks.
'There were many other transactions in 2017, and Greek, Norwegian, and American buyers comprised the top three nationalities of investors taking exposure to the panamax markets,' VesselsValue said.
Sales volumes had been driven by time charter rates improving following a collapse at the start of 2016 and rationalisation of fleet size was encouraging higher returns for the remaining ships, which were still needed to service smaller trading hubs.
In addition, a dearth of newbuildings in the sector meant that there was little likelihood of capacity growing again. No orders for ships between 3,000 TEU and 11,000 TEU have been placed since the beginning of this year.
Nevertheless, classic panamaxes still face headwinds from the persistent low rates that have plagued the entire container fleet, reports UK's Lloyd's Loading List.