STX Pan Ocean returns to profit.
STX Pan Ocean Co., Korea's largest bulk-shipping line, posted a fourth-quarter profit as Chinese demand for coal and iron-ore shipments boosted freight rates. Net income of $33 million compared with a loss of $95 million a year earlier, the Seoul-based shipping line said in a statement yesterday. Sales dropped 40 percent to $1.05 billion.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity-shipping rates, averaged 3,401 in the past quarter, almost triple the level a year earlier, as Chinese demand for raw materials rebounded from a slump caused by the global recession and the credit crunch. The pick-up caused Mitsui O.S.K., operator of the world's largest merchant fleet, to more than double its fiscal year profit forecast last month.
"STX Pan Ocean has benefited from a recovery in steel production," said Um Kyung-a, a Seoul-based analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co.
"Rates and STX Pan Ocean's earnings will be probably both remain stable this year."
The Baltic Dry Index will probably average between 3,000 and 3,500 this year, she said. The index rose 2.4 percent to 2,661 yesterday in London.
STX Pan Ocean's operating profit, or sales minus the cost of goods sold and administrative expenses, totaled $12 million in the October-December quarter, compared with a $58 million loss a year earlier, the company said.
The shipping line was unchanged at 11,250 won in Seoul trading as of 2:01 p.m. The company's Singapore-listed shares climbed 0.4 percent to $14.38 during the trading break.
"We expect the dry bulk demand this year to grow 5 percent to 6 percent on Chinese demand and overall market condition to improve from 2009," STX Pan Ocean said in the statement.