Hong Kong: Executives at Hong Kong-listed shipping firm Pacific Basin Shipping Ltd should have little reason to smile.
Sliding freight rates and a global markets sell-off have helped wipe out nearly half their firm’s value in three months. Yet, smashing a bottle of bubbly on the bow of the firm’s newest ship at a Chinese port, chairman David Turnbull was more a jubilant schoolboy than a burdened executive. “China needs more and more iron ore for its development and is looking further and further away,” his chief executive, Richard Hext, said.
The trillion-dollar shipping industry, fresh off a four-year boom amid rapid expansion of trade, sails into turbulent waters this year as investors fear a sharp US economic slowdown will damp global trade, but analysts say some shippers will fare better than others.
Market watchers argue that a recent sell-off in shipping stocks has been overdone, and that the outlook for transporters of natural resources—dry-bulk carriers—will continue to ride rapacious demand from China, India and other emerging markets. And dry-bulk shippers, those that ferry the mountains of iron ore, coal and other natural resources that still booming Asian economies need are expected to perform better than the market in 2008.