August 28 - Drewry Maritime Equity Research (DMER) has issued a report which paints a dire picture for Korean container shipping companies.
Rahul Kapoor, senior analyst at Drewry Maritime Equity Research stated, "Korean container shipping companies have their backs against the wall with mounting debt and piling losses. Both HMM and Hanjin have severely strained their balance sheets in the current industry downturn and the near term outlook doesn't seem benign. They have seen massive book value erosion between 2009-12, to the tune of 60 percent and will need years of profitability and massive capital increase to tide over what we see as still challenging freight markets. Even as we see the worst is behind them in terms of losses, we are not optimistic of a major turnaround near term and expect the two to continue grappling with weak financial health."
DMER takes a negative view on both Hyundai Merchant Marine (011200 KS) and Hanjin Shipping (117930 KS) as it finds valuations expensive and financial health poor.
In regards to HMM, the report says the company is seeing an unsustainable debt level with capital raise imminent, adding that the company's financial health remains under tremendous strain.
On Hanjin, it predicts that the line will continue to be in the red in 2013 as weak fundamentals and high interest costs weigh, adding that losses in the past two years have eroded the book value.
The performance of Korea's liner shipping companies has mirrored the weakness in global container shipping sector in the past few years. They have seen profitability eroded in the wake of volatile freight rates and irrational industry discipline. Losses in their key segments of container shipping have led to severe deterioration in their financial health. They have failed to generate enough cash flow to suffice their operational needs and instead relied heavily on short term debt capital from the local markets.