(Name, Telephone, E-mail and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common shares, $0.03 par value
Nasdaq Capital Market
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
(Title of Class)
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the issuer's classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report
12,515,645 common shares, $0.03 par value
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined by Rule 405 of the Securities Act.
☐ Yes ☒ No
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
☐ Yes ☒ No
Note – Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.
☒ Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).
☒ Yes ☐ No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, or a non-accelerated filer, or an emerging growth company. See definition of "accelerated filer," "large accelerated filer," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Large accelerated filer
Emerging growth company
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
† The term "new or revised financial accounting standard" refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued by the International Accounting Standards Board.
If "Other" has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow
☐ Item 17 ☐ Item 18
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).
☐ Yes ☒ No
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.
☐ Yes ☐ No
IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
OPERATING AND FINANCIAL REVIEW AND PROSPECTS
DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND EMPLOYEES
MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS AND RELATED PARTY TRANSACTIONS
THE OFFER AND LISTING
QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE DISCLOSURES ABOUT MARKET RISK
DESCRIPTION OF SECURITIES OTHER THAN EQUITY SECURITIES
DEFAULTS, DIVIDEND ARREARAGES AND DELINQUENCIES
MATERIAL MODIFICATIONS TO THE RIGHTS OF SECURITY HOLDERS AND USE OF PROCEEDS
CONTROLS AND PROCEDURES
AUDIT COMMITTEE FINANCIAL EXPERT
CODE OF ETHICS
PRINCIPAL ACCOUNTANT FEES AND SERVICES
EXEMPTIONS FROM THE LISTING STANDARDS FOR AUDIT COMMITTEES
PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES BY THE ISSUER AND AFFILIATED PURCHASERS
CHANGE IN REGISTRANT'S CERTIFYING ACCOUNTANT
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE
Euroseas Ltd., or 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. This annual report contains forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements include information about possible or assumed future results of our operations or our performance. Words such as "expects," "intends," "plans," "believes," "anticipates," "estimates," and variations of such words and similar expressions are intended to identify the forward-looking statements. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, no assurance can be given that such expectations will prove to have been correct. These statements involve known and unknown risks and are based upon a number of assumptions and estimates which are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control. Actual results may differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding:
our future operating or financial results;
future, pending or recent acquisitions, joint ventures, business strategy, areas of possible expansion, and expected capital spending or operating expenses;
container shipping industry trends, including charter rates and factors affecting vessel supply and demand;
our financial condition and liquidity, including our ability to obtain additional financing in the future to fund capital expenditures, acquisitions and other general corporate activities;
availability of crew, number of off-hire days, drydocking requirements and insurance costs;
our expectations about the availability of vessels to purchase or the useful lives of our vessels;
our expectations relating to dividend payments and our ability to make such payments;
our ability to leverage to our advantage our manager's relationships and reputations in the container shipping industry;
changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns;
changes in governmental rules and regulations or actions taken by regulatory authorities;
potential liability from future litigation;
global and regional political conditions;
acts of terrorism and other hostilities, including piracy; and
other factors discussed in the section titled "Risk Factors."
WE UNDERTAKE NO OBLIGATION TO PUBLICLY UPDATE OR REVISE ANY FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS CONTAINED IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT, EXCEPT AS REQUIRED BY LAW, OR THE DOCUMENTS TO WHICH WE REFER YOU IN THIS ANNUAL REPORT, TO REFLECT ANY CHANGE IN OUR EXPECTATIONS WITH RESPECT TO SUCH STATEMENTS OR ANY CHANGE IN EVENTS, CONDITIONS OR CIRCUMSTANCES ON WHICH ANY STATEMENT IS BASED.
Identity of Directors, Senior Management and Advisers
Offer Statistics and Expected Timetable
Please note: Throughout this report, all references to "we," "our," "us" and the "Company" refer to Euroseas Ltd. and its subsidiaries. We use the term deadweight ton, or dwt, in describing the size of vessels. Dwt, expressed in metric tons, each of which is equivalent to 1,000 kilograms, refers to the maximum weight of cargo and supplies that a vessel can carry. We use the term twenty-foot equivalent unit, or teu, in describing the size of our containerships in addition to dwt. Teu, expressed in number of containers, refers to the maximum number of twenty-foot long containers that can be placed on board. Unless otherwise indicated, all references to "dollars" and "$" in this report are to, and amounts are presented in, U.S. dollars.
A. Selected Financial Data
SELECTED CONSOLIDATED FINANCIAL DATA
The following table presents selected consolidated financial and other data of Euroseas Ltd. for each of the five years in the five-year period ended December 31, 2018. The table should be read together with "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects." Excluding fleet data, the selected consolidated financial data of Euroseas Ltd. is a summary of, is derived from, and is qualified by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and notes thereto, which have been prepared in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting principles, or "U.S. GAAP."
Our audited consolidated statements of operations, shareholders' equity and cash flows for the years ended December 31, 2016, 2017 and 2018 and the consolidated balance sheets at December 31, 2017 and 2018, together with the notes thereto, are included in "Item 18. Financial Statements" and should be read in their entirety.
Following the close of trading on the Nasdaq Capital Market on May 30, 2018, the Company completed the spin-off of its drybulk fleet (excluding M/V Monica P, a handymax drybulk carrier, which was agreed to be sold) to EuroDry Ltd. ("EuroDry"). Shareholders of the Company received one EuroDry common share for every five common shares of the Company they owned as of May 23, 2018. Shares of EuroDry commenced trading on May 31, 2018 on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the symbol "EDRY." EuroDry operates in the dry cargo, drybulk shipping markets, owning and operating drybulk vessels previously owned and operated by Euroseas, and is now a separate publicly traded company. As a result of the spin-off and the subsequent sale of M/V Monica P, the Company has become a pure containership company and the only publicly listed company concentrating on the feeder containership sector. Accordingly, the results of operations and financial condition of EuroDry have been presented in discontinued operations for all periods presented. The summary financials below refer to Euroseas Ltd. "continuing operations" giving effect to the spin-off of drybulk vessels to EuroDry ("discontinued operations") unless otherwise noted; historical comparative periods have been adjusted accordingly.
See next page for table of Euroseas Ltd. – Summary of Selected Historical Financials.
Euroseas Ltd. – Summary of Selected Historical Financials
(in U.S. Dollars except for Fleet Data and number of shares)
Year Ended December 31,
Statement of Operations Data
Time charter revenue
Voyage charter revenue
Related party management fee income
Net revenue, continuing operations
Vessel operating expenses
Other operating income
Related party management fees
Other general and administrative expenses
Net gain on sale of vessels
Loss on write-down of vessels held for sale
Operating income / (loss), continuing operations
Interest and other financing costs
(Loss)/gain on derivatives, net
Other investment income
Impairment of other investment
Foreign exchange gain / (loss)
Equity loss in joint venture
Impairment in joint venture
Net loss, continuing operations
Dividends to Series B preferred shares
Net loss attributable to common shareholders, continuing operations
Loss per share attributable to common shareholders- basic and diluted, continuing operations
Preferred stock dividends declared
Preferred dividends declared per preferred share
Weighted average number of shares outstanding during period, basic and diluted
Euroseas Ltd. – Summary of Selected Historical Financials (continued)
As of December 31,
Balance Sheet Data
Current assets, continuing operations
Current assets of discontinued operations
Deferred assets and other long-term assets, continuing operations
Long-term assets of discontinued operations
Total current liabilities, continuing operations
Current liabilities of discontinued operations
Long term bank loans, including current portion
Vessel profit participation liability
Long-term liabilities of discontinued operations
Common shares outstanding
Total shareholders' equity
Cash Flow Data
Year Ended December 31,
Net cash (used in) / provided by operating activities of continuing operations
Net cash (used in) / provided by investing activities of continuing operations
Net cash provided by / (used in) financing activities of continuing operations
Number of vessels
Utilization Rate (percent)
(In U.S. dollars per day per vessel)
Average TCE rate(2)
Vessel Operating Expenses
Total Operating Expenses excluding drydocking expenses
(1) For the definition of calendar days, available days, voyage days and utilization rate, see "Item 5.A – Operating Results".
(2) Time charter equivalent rate, or TCE rate, is determined by dividing time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue less voyage expenses or time charter equivalent revenue, or TCE revenues, by the number of voyage days during the relevant time period. TCE revenues, a non-U.S. GAAP measure, provides additional meaningful information in conjunction with time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue, the most directly comparable U.S. GAAP measure, because it assists Company management in making decisions regarding the deployment and use of its vessels and because the Company believes that it provides useful information to investors regarding the Company's financial performance. TCE revenues and TCE rate are also standard shipping industry performance measures used primarily to compare period-to-period changes in a shipping company's performance despite changes in the mix of charter types (i.e., spot charters, time charters and bareboat charters) under which the vessels may be employed between the periods (see also "Item 5.A – Operating Results"). Our definition of TCE revenues and TCE rate may not be comparable to that used by other companies in the shipping industry.
The following table reflects the reconciliation of TCE revenues to time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue as reflected in the consolidated statement of operations and our calculation of TCE rates for the periods presented.
Year Ended December 31,
(In U.S. dollars, except for voyage days and TCE rates which are expressed in U.S. dollars per day)
Time charter revenue
Voyage charter revenue
Time Charter Equivalent or TCE Revenues
Average TCE rate
B. Capitalization and Indebtedness
C. Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
D. Risk Factors
Any investment in our common stock involves a high degree of risk. You should consider carefully the following factors, as well as the other information set forth in this annual report, before making an investment in our common stock. Some of the following risks relate principally to the industry in which we operate and our business in general. Other risks relate to the securities market for, and ownership of, our common stock. Any of the described risks could significantly and negatively affect our business, financial condition, operating results and common stock price. The following risk factors describe the material risks that are presently known to us.
Industry Risk Factors
The cyclical nature of the shipping industry may lead to volatile changes in freight rates, which may reduce our revenues and negatively affect our results of operations.
We are an independent shipping company that operates in the container shipping industry. Our profitability is dependent upon the charter rates we are able to charge for our ships. The supply of, and demand for, shipping capacity strongly influence charter rates. The demand for shipping capacity is determined primarily by the demand for containerized goods trade and the distance that those goods must be moved by sea. The demand for trade is affected by, among other things, world and regional economic and political conditions (including developments in international trade, fluctuations in industrial and agricultural production and armed conflicts), environmental concerns, weather patterns, and changes in seaborne and other transportation costs. The size of the existing fleet in a particular market, the number of new vessel deliveries, the scrapping of older vessels and the number of vessels out of active service (i.e., laid-up, drydocked, awaiting repairs or otherwise not available for hire) determine the supply of shipping capacity, which is measured by the amount of suitable tonnage available to carry cargo. The cyclical nature of the container shipping industry may lead to volatile changes in freight rates, which may reduce our revenues and net income.
In addition to the prevailing and anticipated charter rates, factors that affect the rate of newbuilding, scrapping and laying-up include newbuilding prices, secondhand vessel values in relation to scrap prices, costs of bunkers and other operating costs, costs associated with classification society surveys, normal maintenance and insurance coverage, the efficiency and age profile of the existing fleet in the market and government and industry regulation of maritime transportation practices, particularly environmental protection laws and regulations. These factors influencing the supply of and demand for shipping capacity are outside of our control, and we may not be able to correctly assess the nature, timing and degree of changes in industry conditions. Some of these factors may have a negative impact on our revenues and net income.
Our future profitability will be dependent on the level of charter rates in the international container shipping industry.
Containership rates ended 2013 at very depressed levels but increased gradually through the period to mid-2015 reaching levels comparable to those seen during the previous peak in mid-2011. However, the second half of the year 2015 saw a decline to the very low levels seen in 2013. In 2016, this declining trend continued, at a milder pace, reaching, or, for containerships greater than 2000 teu, falling below their 2013 levels, an all-time low. Beginning in early 2017 containership rates started a recovery. In the second half of the year rates initially stabilized and then slightly eased. In 2018, rates initially increased through May to the levels last seen in the second half of 2015, but still remained below their historical average. Thereafter, a decline began which erased the entirety of the gains by year end. Containership rates started 2019 in a depressed mode, but by April have gradually strengthened to levels that, although are below those achieved in the first half of 2018, are noticeably higher than the low rates seen in 2016.
Rates in the containership market are influenced by the balance of demand for and supply of vessels and may remain depressed or decline again in the future. Because the factors affecting the supply of and demand for vessels are outside of our control and are unpredictable, the nature, timing, direction and degree of changes in industry conditions are unpredictable, and as a result so are the rates at which we can charter our vessels. In addition, we may not be able to successfully charter our vessels in the future or renew existing charters at rates sufficient to allow us to meet our obligations or to pay dividends to our shareholders.
Some of the factors that influence demand for vessel capacity include:
supply of, and demand for, containerized cargo;
changes in the semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products, and the resulting changes in the international pattern of trade;
global and regional economic and political conditions, including armed conflicts and terrorist activities;
embargoes and strikes;
the location of regional and global manufacturing facilities;
availability of credit to finance international trade;
the location of consuming regions for semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products;
the distance containerized commodities are to be moved by sea;
environmental and other regulatory developments;
currency exchange rates;
changes in global production and manufacturing distribution patterns of finished goods that utilize containerized commodities;
changes in seaborne and other transportation patterns; and
weather and other natural phenomena.
Some of the factors that influence the supply of vessel capacity include:
the number of newbuilding deliveries;
the scrapping rate of older vessels;
the price of steel and other materials;
port and canal congestion;
changes in environmental and other regulations that may limit the useful life of vessels;
the number of vessels that are out of service; and
changes in global commodity production.
We anticipate that the future demand for our container vessels and the charter rates of the corresponding markets will be dependent upon economic conditions in the United States, Europe and Japan, among other economies, as well as continued economic growth in China, India and the overall world economy, seasonal and regional changes in demand and changes to the capacity of the world fleet. The capacity of the world fleet may increase and economic growth may not continue. Adverse economic, political, social or other developments could also have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
An over-supply of containership capacity may lead to a reduction in charter rates and profitability and may require us to raise additional capital in order to remain compliant with our loan covenants and affect our ability to pay dividends in the future.
The market supply of containerships has been increasing, and the number of containerships on order reached historic highs in 2014. The orderbook has gradually declined and, as of April 1, 2019, is near its lowest level of the last twenty years. Growth of the fleet is also affected by the scrapping rate. If the number of new ships delivered exceeds the number of vessels being scrapped and lost, vessel capacity will increase. An over-supply of containership capacity may result in a further reduction of charter rates. As reported by industry sources, the containership fleet increased by 2.2% in 2015, 3.2% in 2016, 2.9% in 2017 and 5.6% in 2018. So far in 2019, containership volumes have increased by 0.5%. Specifically, as reported by industry sources, the capacity of the fully cellular worldwide container vessel fleet, as of March 31, 2019, was approximately 22.14 million teu with approximately another 2.88 million teu, or about 13% of the fleet capacity on order, leading to the possibility that the growing supply of container vessels may exceed future demand, implying that charter rates and vessel values could materially decline.
If such a rate decline occurs upon the expiration or termination of our current charters, we may only be able to re-charter those vessels at reduced rates or we may not be able to charter these vessels at all. Many containership charters we renewed or concluded during 2015, 2016, and 2017 were at unprofitable rates and were entered into because they resulted in lower losses than would have resulted had we put the vessels in lay-up; charter rates have improved since and reached profitable levels by the end of 2017, however, they remained volatile and can turn lower again depending on changes of demand for and supply of shipping capacity. Charters renewed or entered into around the end of 2018 were at rates that were marginally profitable in some cases. Any inability to enter into more profitable charters may require us to raise additional capital in order to remain compliant with our loan covenants and may also affect our ability to pay dividends in the future.
The market value of our vessels can fluctuate significantly, which may adversely affect our financial condition, cause us to breach financial covenants, result in the incurrence of a loss upon disposal of a vessel or increase the cost of acquiring additional vessels.
The value of our vessels may fluctuate, adversely affecting our earnings and liquidity and causing us to breach our secured credit agreements.
The fair market values of our vessels are related to prevailing charter rates. While the fair market value of vessels and the freight charter market have a very close relationship as the charter market moves from trough to peak, the time lag between the effect of charter rates on market values of ships can vary. A decrease in the market values of our vessels could limit the amount of funds that we can borrow or trigger certain financial covenants under our current or future credit facilities, and we may incur a loss if we sell vessels following a decline in their market value. Furthermore, a decrease in the market value of our vessels could require us to raise additional capital in order to remain compliant with our loan covenants, and could result in the foreclosure of our vessels and adversely affect our earnings and financial condition.
The market value of our vessels may increase or decrease depending on the following factors:
general economic and market conditions affecting the shipping industry in general;
supply of container vessels, including newbuildings;
demand for container vessels;
types and sizes of vessels;
other modes of transportation;
cost of newbuildings;
new regulatory requirements from governments or self-regulated organizations;
competition from other shipping companies; and
prevailing level of charter rates.
As vessels grow older, they generally decline in value. Due to the cyclical nature of the container shipping industry, if for any reason we sell vessels at a time when prices have fallen, we could incur a loss and our business, results of operations, cash flow, financial condition and ability to pay dividends could be adversely affected.
In addition, we periodically re-evaluate the carrying amount and period over which vessels are depreciated to determine if events have occurred that would require modification to such assets' carrying values or their useful lives. A determination that a vessel's estimated remaining useful life or fair value has declined below its carrying amount could result in an impairment charge against our earnings and a reduction in our shareholders' equity.
Our secured loan agreements, which are secured by mortgages on our vessels, contain various financial covenants. Any change in the assessed market value of any of our vessels might also cause a violation of the covenants of each secured credit agreement, which, in turn, might restrict our cash and affect our liquidity. Among those covenants are requirements that relate to our net worth, operating performance and liquidity. For example, there is a minimum equity ratio requirement that is based, in part, upon the market value of the vessels securing the loans, as well as requirements to maintain a minimum ratio of the market value of our vessels mortgaged thereunder to our aggregate outstanding balance under each respective loan agreement. If the assessed market value of our vessels declines below certain thresholds, we may violate these covenants and may incur penalties for breach of our credit agreements. For example, these penalties could require us to prepay the shortfall between the assessed market value of our vessels and the value of such vessels required to be maintained pursuant to the secured credit agreement, or to provide additional security acceptable to the lenders in an amount at least equal to the amount of any shortfall. If we are unable to pledge additional collateral, our lenders could accelerate our debt and foreclose on our fleet. Furthermore, we may enter into future loans, which may include various other covenants, in addition to the vessel-related ones, that may ultimately depend on the assessed values of our vessels. Such covenants could include, but are not limited to, maximum fleet leverage covenants and minimum fair net worth covenants.
Adverse economic conditions, especially in the Asia Pacific region, the European Union or the United States, could harm our business, results of operations and financial condition.
Because a significant number of the port calls made by our vessels involves the loading or discharging of containerships in ports in the Asia Pacific region, economic turmoil in that region may exacerbate the effect of any economic slowdown on us. China has been one of the world's fastest growing economies and a major manufacturing hub for the production and export of finished goods which are predominantly shipped in containerships. However, China's growth rate of real gross domestic product, or "GDP", has been declining and is forecasted to further decline in 2019, and the United States, a major trading partner of China, has indicated that it may seek to implement more protectionist trade measures in order to protect its domestic economy, which might further affect the growth rate of the Chinese economy, in particular, and the Asia Pacific region, in general. Additionally, the European Union, or the EU, and certain of its member states are facing significant economic and political challenges, including a risk of increased protectionist policies. Our business, results of operations and financial condition will likely be harmed by any significant economic downturn and economic instability in the Asia Pacific region, including China, or in the EU or the United States.
Eurozone's potential inability to deal with the sovereign debt issues of some of its members could have a material adverse effect on the profitability of our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Despite the efforts of the European Council since 2011 to implement a structured financial support mechanism for Eurozone countries experiencing financial difficulties, questions remain about the capability of a number of member countries to refinance their sovereign debt and meet their debt obligations. In March 2011, the European Council agreed on the need for Eurozone countries to establish a permanent stability mechanism, the European Stability Mechanism (or "the ESM"), which will be activated by mutual agreement to provide external financial assistance to Eurozone countries. Despite these measures, concerns persist regarding the debt burden of certain Eurozone countries and their ability to meet future financial obligations and the overall stability of the euro. An extended period of adverse development in the outlook for European countries could reduce the overall demand for our services. These potential developments, or market perceptions concerning these and related issues, could have a material adverse effect on our financial position, results of operations and cash flow.
Liner companies, which comprise the largest contingent of charterers of containerships, have been placed under significant financial pressure, thereby increasing our charter counterparty risk which may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The decline in global trade after the financial crisis of 2008 and the subsequent economic slowdown has resulted in a significant decline in demand for the seaborne transportation of products in containers, including for exports from China to Europe and the United States. Consequently, the cargo volumes and, especially, freight rates (i.e., the rates that liner companies charge to their clients) achieved by liner companies, which charter containerships from ship owners like us, declined sharply in the second half of 2011. They stabilized toward the end of 2012, remained at similar levels in 2013, but declined in 2014 and 2016 also due to a growing oversupply of containerships despite a short-lived recovery in the middle of 2015. In 2017, a rate recovery began, which was maintained throughout the year and the first half of 2018. The second half of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 have seen a decline in containership charter rates mainly due to measured demand for goods because of the uncertainty surrounding the possibility of increased protectionist policies by governments worldwide. Current containership rates still remain below historical averages, affecting their profitability. The financial challenges faced by liner companies, some of which have announced efforts to obtain third party aid and restructure their obligations, including our charterers, have reduced demand for containership charters and may increase the likelihood of our customers being unable or unwilling to pay us contracted charter rates. The combination of the current surplus of containership capacity and the expected increase in the size of the world containership fleet over the next several years may make it difficult to secure substitute employment for our containerships if our counterparties fail to perform their obligations under the currently arranged time charters, and any new charter arrangements we are able to secure may be at lower rates.
The containership industry is highly competitive, and we may be unable to compete successfully for charters with established companies or new entrants that may have greater resources and access to capital, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
The containership industry is highly competitive and capital intensive. Competition arises primarily from other vessel owners, some of whom may have greater resources and access to capital than we will have. Competition among vessel owners for the seaborne transportation of semi-finished and finished consumer and industrial products can be intense and depends on the charter rate, location, size, age, condition and the acceptability of the vessel and its operators to charterers. Due in part to the highly fragmented market, many of our competitors with greater resources and access to capital than we have could operate larger fleets than we may operate and thus be able to offer lower charter rates or higher quality vessels than we are able to offer. If this were to occur, we may be unable to retain or attract new charterers on attractive terms or at all, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, prospects, financial condition, liquidity and results of operations.
Changes in the economic and political environment in China and policies adopted by the Chinese government to regulate China's economy may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (or "OECD") in such respects as structure, government involvement, level of development, growth rate, capital reinvestment, allocation of resources, rate of inflation and balance of payments position. Prior to 1978, the Chinese economy was a planned economy. Since 1978, increasing emphasis has been placed on the utilization of market forces in the development of the Chinese economy. Annual and five-year State Plans are adopted by the Chinese government in connection with the development of the economy. Although state-owned enterprises still account for a substantial portion of the Chinese industrial output, in general, the Chinese government is reducing the level of direct control that it exercises over the economy through State Plans and other measures. There is an increasing level of freedom and autonomy in areas such as allocation of resources, production, pricing and management and a gradual shift in emphasis to a "market economy" and enterprise reform. Limited price reforms were undertaken, with the result that prices for certain commodities are principally determined by market forces. Many of the reforms are unprecedented or experimental and may be subject to revision, change or abolition based upon the outcome of such experiments. The Chinese government may not continue to pursue a policy of economic reform. The level of imports to and exports from China could be adversely affected by the nature of the economic reforms pursued by the Chinese government, as well as by changes in political, economic and social conditions or other relevant policies of the Chinese government, such as changes in laws, regulations or export and import restrictions, all of which could adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and cash flows.
We conduct business in China, where the legal system is not fully developed and has inherent uncertainties that could limit the legal protections available to us.
Some of our vessels may be chartered to Chinese customers and from time to time on our charterers' instructions, our vessels may call on Chinese ports. Such charters and voyages may be subject to regulations in China that may require us to incur new or additional compliance or other administrative costs and may require that we pay to the Chinese government new taxes or other fees. Applicable laws and regulations in China may not be well publicized and may not be known to us or to our charterers in advance of us or our charterers becoming subject to them, and the implementation of such laws and regulations may be inconsistent. Changes in Chinese laws and regulations, including with regards to tax matters, or changes in their implementation by local authorities could affect our vessels if chartered to Chinese customers as well as our vessels calling to Chinese ports and could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
The current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions may adversely impact our ability to obtain additional financing on acceptable terms or at all, which may hinder or prevent us from expanding our business.
Global financial markets and economic conditions have been, and continue to be, volatile. This volatility has negatively affected the general willingness of banks and other financial institutions to extend credit, particularly in the shipping industry, due to the historically, volatile and, currently below historical average asset values of vessels. As the shipping industry is highly dependent on the availability of credit to finance and expand operations, it has been and may continue to be negatively affected by this decline in lending. In addition, the current state of global financial markets and current economic conditions might adversely impact our ability to issue additional equity at prices which will not be dilutive to our existing shareholders or preclude us from issuing equity at all.
Also, as a result of concerns about the stability of financial markets generally and the solvency of counterparties specifically, the cost of obtaining money from the credit markets has increased as many lenders have increased interest rates, enacted tighter lending standards, refused to refinance existing debt at all or on terms similar to current debt and reduced, and in some cases ceased, to provide funding to borrowers. Due to these factors, we cannot be certain that additional financing will be available, if needed, and to the extent required, on acceptable terms or at all. If additional financing is not available when needed, or is available only on unfavorable terms, we may be unable to meet our obligations as they come due or we may be unable to enhance our existing business, complete additional vessel acquisitions or otherwise take advantage of business opportunities as they arise.
We are subject to complex laws and regulations, including environmental regulations that can adversely affect the cost, manner or feasibility of doing business.
Our operations are subject to numerous laws and regulations in the form of international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and national and international regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which our vessels operate or are registered, which can significantly affect the ownership and operation of our vessels. These requirements include, but are not limited to, the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships of 1973, as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto, collectively referred to as MARPOL 73/78 and herein as MARPOL, including the designation of emission control areas, ECAs, thereunder, the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966, or the LL Convention, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damage of 1969, as amended by different Protocol in 1976, 1984 and 1992, and amended in 2000, and generally referred to as the CLC, the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage, or Bunker Convention, the
International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea of 1974, or SOLAS, the International Safety Management Code for the Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention, or ISM Code, the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments, or the BWM Convention, the U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990, or OPA, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or CERCLA, the U.S. Clean Water Act, or the CWA, the U.S. Clean Air Act, or the CAA, the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002, or the MTSA, and European Union regulations. Compliance with such laws, regulations and standards, where applicable, may require installation of costly equipment or operational changes and may affect the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. Furthermore, events like the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent release of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, or other events, may result in further regulation of the shipping industry, and modifications to statutory liability schemes. Thus, we may also incur additional costs in order to comply with other existing and future regulatory obligations, including, but not limited to, costs relating to air emissions including greenhouse gases, the management of ballast waters, maintenance and inspection, development and implementation of emergency procedures and insurance coverage or other financial assurance of our ability to address pollution incidents. These costs could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition. A failure to comply with applicable laws and regulations may result in administrative and civil penalties, criminal sanctions or the suspension or termination of our operations.
Environmental laws often impose strict liability for remediation of spills and releases of oil and hazardous substances, which could subject us to liability without regard to whether we were negligent or at fault. Because such conventions, laws and regulations are often revised, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with such conventions, laws and regulations or the impact thereof on the resale price or useful life of our vessels. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and which may materially adversely affect our operations. We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses and certificates with respect to our operations. Under OPA, for example, owners, operators and bareboat charterers are jointly and severally strictly liable for the discharge of oil within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone around the United States. An oil spill could result in significant liability, including fines, penalties and criminal liability and remediation costs for natural resource damages under other federal, state and local laws, as well as third-party damages. We are required to satisfy insurance and financial responsibility requirements for potential oil (including marine fuel) spills and other pollution incidents. There can be no assurance that any such insurance we have arranged to cover certain environmental risks will be sufficient to cover all such risks or that any claims will not have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends. We currently maintain, for each of our vessels, pollution liability coverage insurance of $1.0 billion per incident. If the damages from a catastrophic spill exceeded our insurance coverage, it would severely and adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Environmental requirements can also require a reduction in cargo capacity, ship modifications or operational changes or restrictions, lead to decreased availability of insurance coverage for environmental matters or result in the denial of access to certain jurisdictional waters or ports, or detention in certain ports. Under local, national and foreign laws, as well as international treaties and conventions, we could incur material liabilities, including clean up obligations and natural resource damages in the event that there is a release of bunkers or hazardous substances from our vessels or otherwise in connection with our operations. We could also become subject to personal injury or property damage claims relating to the release of hazardous substances associated with our existing or historic operations. Violations of, or liabilities under, environmental requirements can result in substantial penalties, fines and other sanctions, including in certain instances, seizure or detention of our vessels.
We are subject to international safety regulations and the failure to comply with these regulations may subject us to increased liability, may adversely affect our insurance coverage and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.
The operation of our vessels is affected by the requirements set forth in the ISM Code set forth in Chapter IX of Solas. The ISM Code requires shipowners, ship managers and bareboat charterers to develop and maintain an extensive "Safety Management System" that includes the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for safe operation and describing procedures for dealing with emergencies. We rely upon the safety management system that we and our technical managers have developed for compliance with the ISM Code. The failure of a shipowner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject it to increased liability, may invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. Currently, each of our vessels and Eurobulk Ltd. ("Eurobulk"), our affiliated ship management company (the "Manager"), are ISM Code-certified, but we may not be able to maintain such certification indefinitely.
The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a safety management certificate for each vessel they operate. This certificate evidences compliance by a vessel's management with the ISM Code requirements for a safety management system. No vessel can obtain a safety management certificate unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, issued by each flag state, under the ISM Code. We have obtained documents of compliance for our offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the United Nations' International Maritime Organization, the IMO. The document of compliance, the DOC, and safety management certificate, or the SMC, are renewed as required.
In addition, vessel classification societies also impose significant safety and other requirements on our vessels. In complying with current and future environmental requirements, vessel-owners and operators may also incur significant additional costs in meeting new maintenance and inspection requirements, in developing contingency arrangements for potential spills and in obtaining insurance coverage. Government regulation of vessels, particularly in the areas of safety and environmental requirements, can be expected to become stricter in the future and require us to incur significant capital expenditures on our vessels to keep them in compliance.
The operation of our vessels is also affected by other government regulation in the form of international conventions, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the jurisdictions in which the vessels operate, as well as in the country or countries of their registration. Because such conventions, laws, and regulations are often revised, we may not be able to predict the ultimate cost of complying with such conventions, laws and regulations or the impact thereof on the resale prices or useful lives of our vessels. Additional conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted which could limit our ability to do business or increase the cost of our doing business and which may materially adversely affect our operations. We are required by various governmental and quasi-governmental agencies to obtain certain permits, licenses, certificates and financial assurances with respect to our operations. See Item 4: "Information on the Company – Business Overview – Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry" for more information.
Regulations relating to ballast water discharge coming into effect during September 2019 may adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
The IMO has imposed updated guidelines for ballast water management systems specifying the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged from a vessel's ballast water. Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels constructed before September 8, 2017 must comply with the updated D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most vessels, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ships constructed on or after September 8, 2017 are to comply with the D-2 standards on or after September 8, 2017. We currently have 11 vessels that do not comply with the updated guideline and costs of compliance may be substantial and adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
Furthermore, United States regulations are currently changing. Although the 2013 Vessel General Permit ("VGP") program and U.S. National Invasive Species Act ("NISA") are currently in effect to regulate ballast discharge, exchange and installation, the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act ("VIDA"), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018, requires that the U.S. Coast Guard develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations regarding ballast water within two years. The new regulations could require the installation of new equipment, which may cause us to incur substantial costs.
Regulations relating to low sulfur emissions coming into effect on January 1, 2020 may adversely affect our revenues and profitability.
Under maritime regulations due to take effect on January 1, 2020, ships will have to reduce sulfur emissions, for which the principal solutions are the use of scrubbers or buying fuel with low sulfur content which is more expensive than standard marine fuel. We do not currently intend to install scrubbers on our fleet. We expect that our fuel costs and fuel inventories will increase beginning in 2019 as a result of these sulfur emission regulations. Low sulfur fuel is more expensive than standard marine fuel containing 3.5% sulfur content and may become more expensive or difficult to obtain as a result of increased demand, which may have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
Increased inspection procedures and tighter import and export controls and new security regulations could increase costs and disrupt our business.
International container shipping is subject to various security and customs inspection and related procedures in countries of origin and destination. Inspection procedures may result in the seizure of contents of our vessels, delays in the loading, offloading or delivery and the levying of customs duties, fines or other penalties against us.
It is possible that changes to existing procedures will be proposed or implemented. Any such changes may affect the container shipping industry and have the potential to impose additional financial and legal obligations on carriers and, in certain cases, to render the shipment of certain types of goods by container uneconomical or impractical. These additional costs could reduce the volume of goods shipped in containers, resulting in a decreased demand for container vessels. In addition, it is unclear what financial costs any new security procedures might create for container vessel owners, or whether companies responsible for the global traffic of containers at sea, referred to as container line operators, may seek to pass on certain of the costs associated with any new security procedures to vessel owners.
If our vessels fail to maintain their class certification and/or fail any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, those vessels would be unable to carry cargo, thereby reducing our revenues and profitability and violating certain covenants in our loan agreements.
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and SOLAS. Our vessels are currently classed with Bureau Veritas, Germanischer Lloyd and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. ISM and International Ship and Port Facilities Security, or ISPS, certifications have been awarded to the vessels by Bureau Veritas or Liberian Flag Administration and to the Manager by Bureau Veritas.
A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel's machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of such vessel.
If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable. That status could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage that a vessel be certified as "in class" by a classification society that is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, or IACS. All of our vessels that we have purchased, and may agree to purchase in the future, must be certified as being "in class" prior to their delivery under our standard purchase contracts and memorandum of agreement. If the vessel is not certified on the date of closing, we have no obligation to take delivery of the vessel. We have all of our vessels, and intend to have all vessels that we acquire in the future, classed by IACS members. See Item 4: "Information on the Company – Business Overview – Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry" for more information.
Rising fuel prices may adversely affect our results of operations and the marketability of our vessels.
Fuel (bunkers) is a significant, if not the largest, operating expense for many of our shipping operations when our vessels are under voyage charter. When a vessel is operating under a time charter, these costs are paid by the charterer. However, fuel costs are taken into account by the charterer in determining the amount of time charter hire and, therefore, fuel costs also indirectly affect time charter rates. While the price of fuel is currently at relatively low levels due to the price of oil, the price and supply of fuel is unpredictable and fluctuates based on events outside our control, including geopolitical developments, supply and demand for oil and gas, actions by Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries ("OPEC") and other oil and gas producers, war and unrest in oil producing countries and regions, regional production patterns and environmental concerns. Fuel prices had been at historically high levels through mid-2014 but by the first quarter of 2016 fuel prices had fallen by more than 50%. Oil prices began rising in February 2016 until June 2016, due to, among other reasons, the war in Syria, oscillated until November 2016, due to movements in the U.S. dollar exchange rate and various geopolitical events, surging again since end-November 2016, due to the announcement by OPEC of future production cuts. In January 2017, oil prices maintained their levels while in February 2017 they further rose, reaching $53.83/bbl (for West Texas Intermediate, "WTI") on March 1, 2017. Oil prices subsequently oscillated until May 23, 2017 in the $45.5 to $54 range. In the following 30 days oil prices fell 17%, before beginning a rally of more than 40% until December 31, 2017. In 2018, oil prices continued to rise, albeit with significant fluctuations, to $74.15/bbl as of June 29, 2018 (+23% year to date) until August 15, 2018, the price corrected by 9.6% to $67.04/bbl. A rising trend resumed until early October, by which time the WTI had gained 14% ($76.41/bbl). In the fourth quarter of 2018, lower demand and the International Monetary Fund's lower GDP forecasts reversed the trend once more, reducing the oil price by 44% to $42.53 by December 24, 2018. Thereafter, oil prices rebounded responding, at least partly, to a 90-day trade war truce agreed between the United States and China. By April 1, 2019, WTI has risen by 49.1% to $63.43/bbl. Oil prices, however, remain below their 10-year average of ca. $71/bbl (for WTI). Any further increases in the price of fuel may adversely affect our operations, especially if such increases are combined with lower containership rates.
Upon redelivery of vessels at the end of a period time or trip time charter, we may be obligated to repurchase bunkers on board at prevailing market prices, which could be materially higher than fuel prices at the inception of the charter period. We may also be obligated to value our bunkers, inventories, on board at the end of a period time or trip time charter, at a lower value than the acquisition value, if prevailing market prices are significantly lower at the time of the vessel redelivery from the charterer.
Rising crew costs may adversely affect our profits.
Crew costs are a significant expense for us under our charters. There is a limited supply of well-qualified crew. We generally bear crewing costs under our charters. An increase in the world vessel operating fleet will likely result in higher demand for crews which, in turn, might drive crew costs further up. Any increase in crew costs may adversely affect our profitability especially if such increase is combined with lower containership rates.
Maritime claimants could arrest or attach our vessels, which would interrupt our business or have a negative effect on our cash flows.
Crew members, suppliers of goods and services to a vessel, shippers of cargo, lenders and other parties may be entitled to a maritime lien against that vessel for unsatisfied debts, claims or damages. In many jurisdictions, a maritime lien holder may enforce its lien by arresting or attaching a vessel through foreclosure proceedings. The arresting or attachment of one or more of our vessels could interrupt our cash flow and require us to pay large sums to have the arrest or attachment lifted which would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
In addition, in some jurisdictions, such as South Africa, under the "sister ship" theory of liability, a claimant may arrest both the vessel that is subject to the claimant's maritime lien, and any "associated" vessel, which is any vessel owned or controlled by the same owner. Claimants could try to assert "sister ship" liability against one of our vessels for claims relating to another of our vessels.
The smuggling of drugs or other contraband onto our vessels may lead to governmental claims against us.
We expect that our vessels will call in ports in South America and other areas where smugglers attempt to hide drugs and other contraband on vessels, with or without the knowledge of crew members. To the extent our vessels are found with contraband, whether inside or attached to the hull of our vessel and whether with or without the knowledge of any of our crew, we may face governmental or other regulatory claims, which could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Governments could requisition our vessels during a period of war or emergency, resulting in loss of earnings.
A government could requisition for title or seize one or more of our vessels. Requisition for title occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and becomes the owner. Also, a government could requisition one or more of our vessels for hire. Requisition for hire occurs when a government takes control of a vessel and effectively becomes the charterer at dictated charter rates. Generally, requisitions occur during a period of war or emergency. Even if we would be entitled to compensation in the event of a requisition of one or more of our vessels, the amount and timing of the payment would be uncertain. Government requisition of one or more of our vessels could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
World events outside our control may negatively affect our ability to operate, thereby reducing our revenues and results of operations or our ability to obtain additional financing, thereby restricting the implementation of our business strategy.
We operate in a sector of the economy that is likely to be adversely impacted by the effects of political conflicts, including the current political instability in the Middle East, terrorist or other attacks, war or international hostilities. Terrorist attacks such as the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001 and similar attacks that followed, the continuing response to these attacks, as well as the threat of future terrorist attacks, continue to cause uncertainty in the world financial markets and may affect our business, results of operations and financial condition. The continuing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, Syria, amongst other countries, may lead to additional acts of terrorism and armed conflict around the world, which may contribute to further economic instability in the global financial markets. These uncertainties could also have a material adverse effect on our ability to obtain additional financing on terms acceptable to us or at all. Terrorist attacks on vessels may in the future also negatively affect our operations and financial condition and directly impact our vessels or our customers. Future terrorist attacks could result in increased volatility and turmoil of the financial markets in the United States of America and globally and could result in an economic recession in the United States of America or the world. Any of these occurrences could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, costs and operating cash flows.
Disruptions in world financial markets and the resulting governmental action could have a material adverse impact on our ability to obtain financing, our results of operations, financial condition and cash flows, and could cause the market price of our common stock to further decline.
Europe, the United States and other parts of the world have exhibited weak economic conditions, are exhibiting volatile economic trends or have been in a recession. For example, during the 2008-2009 crisis, the credit markets in the United States experienced sudden and significant contraction, deleveraging and reduced liquidity, and the United States federal government and state
governments have since implemented a broad variety of governmental action and/or new regulation of the financial markets. Securities and futures markets and the credit markets are subject to comprehensive statutes, regulations and other requirements. The Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, other regulators, self-regulatory organizations and exchanges are authorized to take extraordinary actions in the event of market emergencies, and may effect changes in law or interpretations of existing laws. A number of financial institutions and especially banks that traditionally provide debt to shipping companies like ours have experienced serious financial difficulties and, in some cases, have entered bankruptcy proceedings or are in regulatory enforcement actions. As a result, access to credit markets around the world has been reduced. The extension of Quantitative Easing (or "QE") and more recently the reversal of it, high levels of Non-Performing Loans (or "NPLs") in Europe and stricter lending requirements may reduce bank lending capacity and/or make the terms of any lending more onerous.
We face risks related to changes in economic environments, changes in interest rates, and instability in the banking and securities markets around the world, among other factors. Major market disruptions and the changes in market conditions and regulatory changes worldwide may adversely affect our business or impair our ability to borrow amounts under our credit facilities or any future financial arrangements. We cannot predict how long the current market conditions will last. However, these recent and developing economic and governmental factors, including proposals to reform the financial system, together with the concurrent decline in charter rates and vessel values, may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations, financial condition or cash flows, and might cause the price of our common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market to decline.
We may require substantial additional financing to fund acquisitions of additional vessels and to implement our business plans. Sufficient financing may not be available on terms that are acceptable to us or at all. If we cannot raise the financing we need in a timely manner and on acceptable terms, we may not be able to acquire the vessels necessary to implement our business plans and consequently we may not be able to pay dividends.
Effects and events related to the Greek sovereign debt and economic crisis may adversely affect our operating results.
Greece has experienced a macroeconomic downturn in recent years, partially as a result of the sovereign debt crisis and the related austerity measures implemented by the Greek government. Eurobulk's operations in Greece may be subjected to new regulations or regulatory action that may require us to incur new or additional compliance or other administrative costs and may require that we or Eurobulk pay to the Greek government new taxes or other fees. We and Eurobulk also face the risk that strikes, work stoppages, civil unrest and violence within Greece may disrupt our and Eurobulk's shore-side operations located in Greece. The Greek government's taxation authorities have increased their scrutiny of individuals and companies to secure tax law compliance. If economic and financial market conditions remain uncertain, persist or deteriorate further, the Greek government may impose further changes to tax and other laws to which we and Eurobulk may be subject or change the ways they are enforced, which may adversely affect our business, operating results, and financial condition.
We rely on information technology, and if we are unable to protect against service interruptions, data corruption, cyber-based attacks or network security breaches, our operations could be disrupted and our business could be negatively affected.
We rely on information technology networks and systems to process, transmit and store electronic and financial information; to capture knowledge of our business; to coordinate our business across our operation bases; and to communicate internally and with customers, suppliers, partners and other third-parties. These information technology systems, some of which are managed by third parties, may be susceptible to damage, disruptions or shutdowns, hardware or software failures, power outages, computer viruses, cyberattacks, telecommunication failures, user errors or catastrophic events. Our information technology systems are becoming increasingly integrated, so damage, disruption or shutdown to the system could result in a more widespread impact. Our business operations could be targeted by individuals or groups seeking to sabotage or disrupt our information technology systems and networks, or to steal data. A successful cyber-attack could materially disrupt our operations, including the safety of our operations, or lead to unauthorized release of information or alteration of information in our systems. Any such attack or other breach of our information technology systems could have a material adverse effect on our business and results of operations. If our information technology systems suffer severe damage, disruption or shutdown, and our business continuity plans do not effectively resolve the issues in a timely manner, our operations could be disrupted and our business could be negatively affected. In addition, cyber-attacks could lead to potential unauthorized access and disclosure of confidential information and data loss and corruption. There is no assurance that we will not experience these service interruptions or cyber-attacks in the future. Further, as the methods of cyber-attacks continue to evolve, we may be required to expend additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any vulnerabilities to cyber-attacks.
The vote by the United Kingdom to leave the European Union could adversely affect us.
The United Kingdom ("UK") referendum on its membership in the European Union resulted in a majority of U.K. voters voting to exit the E.U. ("Brexit"). We have operations in the E.U., and as a result, we face risks associated with the potential uncertainty and disruptions that may follow Brexit, including volatility in exchange rates and interest rates and potential material changes to the regulatory regime applicable to our business or global trading parties. While the exact way that Brexit will be achieved is uncertain, Brexit could adversely affect European or worldwide political, regulatory, economic or market conditions and could contribute to instability in global political institutions, regulatory agencies and financial markets generally and in the UK specifically. Any of these effects of Brexit, and others we cannot anticipate or that may evolve over time, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Seasonal fluctuations could affect our operating results and the amount of available cash with which we service our debt or could pay dividends.
We operate our vessels in markets that have historically exhibited seasonal variations in demand and, as a result, in charter rates. To the extent we operate vessels in the spot market, this seasonality may result in quarter-to-quarter volatility in our operating results which could affect our ability to reinstate payment of dividends to our common shareholders. For example, the containership market is typically stronger in the spring and fall months following the celebration of Chinese New Year in the first quarter of each year and in anticipation of the increased demand during the year-end holiday season. In addition, unpredictable weather patterns in these months tend to disrupt vessel scheduling and supplies of certain commodities. This seasonality has not materially affected our operating results and cash available for distribution to our shareholders as dividends since our fleet is employed on period time charters. However, if our vessels are employed in the spot market in the future, seasonality may materially affect our operating results in the future.
We may have difficulty securing profitable employment for our vessels if their charters expire in a depressed market.
All of our eleven vessels are currently employed on time charter contracts. Eight of our vessels are under time charters scheduled to expire during 2019 and three are under time charters scheduled to expire in 2020. As of April 1, 2019, the containership charter rates for vessels like ours remain below historical averages. When the current charters of our vessels are due for renewal, we may be unable to re-charter these vessels at similar or better rates or we might not be able to charter them at all. Although we do not receive any revenues from our vessels while not employed, we are required to pay expenses necessary to maintain the vessel in proper operating condition, insure it and service any indebtedness secured by such vessel. If we cannot re-charter our vessels on time charters or trade them in the spot market profitably, our results of operations and operating cash flow will be adversely affected.
Reliance on suppliers may limit our ability to obtain supplies and services when needed.
We rely on a significant number of third party suppliers of consumables, spare parts and equipment to operate, maintain, repair and upgrade our fleet of ships. Delays in delivery or unavailability or poor quality of supplies could result in off-hire days due to consequent delays in the repair and maintenance of our fleet or lead to our time charters being terminated. This would negatively impact our revenues and cash flows. Cost increases could also negatively impact our future operations.
The derivative contracts we have entered into to hedge our exposure to fluctuations in interest rates can result in higher than market rates and reductions in our stockholders' equity as well as charges against our income, while there is no assurance of the credit worthiness of our counterparties.
We have entered into interest rate swaps generally for purposes of managing our exposure to fluctuations in interest rates applicable to indebtedness under our credit facilities which were advanced at floating rates based on LIBOR. Interest rates and currency hedging may result in us paying higher than market rates. As of December 31, 2018, the aggregate notional amount of interest rate swaps relating to our fleet as of such date was $10 million. There is no assurance that our derivative contracts or any that we enter into in the future will provide adequate protection against adverse changes in interest rates or that our bank counterparties will be able to perform their obligations. In addition, as a result of the implementation of new regulation of the swaps markets in the United States, the European Union and elsewhere over the next few years, the cost of interest rate may increase or suitable hedges may not be available. While we monitor the credit risks associated with our bank counterparties, there can be no assurance that these counterparties would be able to meet their commitments under our derivative contracts or any future derivative contract. Our bank counterparties include financial institutions that are based in European Union countries that have faced and might face again financial stress. The potential for our bank counterparties to default on their obligations under our derivative contracts may be highest when we are most exposed to the fluctuations in interest and currency rates such contracts are designed to hedge, and several or all of our bank counterparties may simultaneously be unable to perform their obligations due to the same events or occurrences in global financial markets.
To the extent our existing interest rate swaps do not, and future derivative contracts may not, qualify for treatment as hedges for accounting purposes we would recognize fluctuations in the fair value of such contracts in our income statement. In addition, to the
extent any future derivative contracts qualify for treatment as hedges for accounting purposes, changes in the fair value of our derivative contracts would be recognized in "Accumulated Other Comprehensive Loss" affecting our accumulated deficit, and may affect compliance with the net worth covenant requirements in our credit facilities. Changes in the fair value of our derivative contracts that do not qualify for treatment as hedges for accounting and financial reporting purposes affect, among other things, our net income and our earnings per share. For additional information see "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects" and "Item 11. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures about Market Risk".
We may be subject to litigation that, if not resolved in our favor and not sufficiently insured against, could have a material adverse effect on us.
We may be involved in various litigation matters from time to time. These matters may include, among other things, contract disputes, personal injury claims, environmental claims or proceedings, asbestos and other toxic tort claims, employment matters, governmental claims for taxes or duties, and other litigation that arises in the ordinary course of our business. Although we intend to defend these matters vigorously, we cannot predict with certainty the outcome or effect of any claim or other litigation matter, and the ultimate outcome of any litigation or the potential costs to resolve them may have a material adverse effect on us. Insurance may not be applicable or sufficient in all cases and/or insurers may not remain solvent which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating cash flows.
Company Risk Factors
We depend entirely on Eurobulk to manage and charter our fleet, which may adversely affect our operations if Eurobulk fails to perform its obligations.
We have no employees and we currently contract the commercial and technical management of our fleet, including crewing, maintenance and repair, to Eurobulk, our affiliated ship management company. We may lose the Manager's services or the Manager may fail to perform its obligations to us which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of our operations. Although we may have rights against our Manager if it defaults on its obligations to us, you will have no recourse against our Manager. Further, we will need to seek approval from our lenders to change the Manager as our ship manager.
Because the Manager is a privately held company, there is little or no publicly available information about it and there may be very little advance warning of operational or financial problems experienced by the Manager that may adversely affect us.
The ability of the Manager to continue providing services for our benefit will depend in part on its own financial strength. Circumstances beyond our control could impair the Manager's financial strength, and because the Manager is privately held it is unlikely that information about its financial strength would become public unless the Manager began to default on its obligations. As a result, there may be little advance warning of problems affecting the Manager, even though these problems could have a material adverse effect on us.
We may have difficulty properly managing our growth through acquisitions of new or secondhand vessels and we may not realize expected benefits from these acquisitions, which may negatively impact our cash flows, liquidity and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
We intend to grow our business by ordering newbuild vessels and through selective acquisitions of high-quality secondhand vessels to the extent that they are available. Our future growth will primarily depend on:
• the operations of the shipyards that build any newbuild vessels we may order;
• the availability of employment for our vessels;
• locating and identifying suitable high-quality secondhand vessels;
• obtaining newbuild contracts at acceptable prices;
• obtaining required financing on acceptable terms;
• consummating vessel acquisitions;
• enlarging our customer base;
• hiring additional shore-based employees and seafarers;
• continuing to meet technical and safety performance standards; and
• managing joint ventures or significant acquisitions and integrating the new ships into our fleet.
Ship values are correlated with charter rates. During periods in which charter rates are high, ship values are generally high as well, and it may be difficult to consummate ship acquisitions or enter into shipbuilding contracts at favorable prices. During periods in which charter rates are low and employment is scarce, ship values are low and any vessel acquired without an attached time charter will automatically incur additional expenses to operate, insure, maintain and finance the ship, thereby significantly increasing the acquisition
cost. In addition, any vessel acquisition may not be profitable at or after the time of acquisition and may not generate cash flows sufficient to justify the investment. We may not be successful in executing any future growth plans and we cannot give any assurance that we will not incur significant expenses and losses in connection with such growth efforts. Other risks associated with vessel acquisitions that may harm our business, financial condition and operating results include the risks that we may:
• fail to realize anticipated benefits, such as new customer relationships, cost-savings or cash flow enhancements;
• be unable to hire, train or retain qualified shore-based and seafaring personnel to manage and operate our growing business and fleet;
• decrease our liquidity by using a significant portion of available cash or borrowing capacity to finance acquisitions;
• significantly increase our interest expense or financial leverage if we incur additional debt to finance acquisitions;
• incur or assume unanticipated liabilities, losses or costs associated with any vessels or businesses acquired; or
• incur other significant charges, such as impairment of goodwill or other intangible assets, asset devaluation or restructuring charges.
Furthermore, a delay in the delivery to us of any such vessel acquired, or the failure of the shipyard to deliver a vessel at all, could cause us to breach our obligations under a related charter and could adversely affect our earnings. In addition, the delivery of any of these vessels with substantial defects could have similar consequences.
A shipyard could fail to deliver a newbuild on time or at all because of:
work stoppages or other hostilities, political or economic disturbances that disrupt the operations of the shipyard;
quality or engineering problems;
bankruptcy or other financial crisis of the shipyard;
a backlog of orders at the shipyard;
disputes between us and the shipyard regarding contractual obligations;
weather interference or catastrophic events, such as major earthquakes or fires;
our requests for changes to the original vessel specifications or disputes with the shipyard; or
shortages of or delays in the receipt of necessary construction materials, such as steel, or equipment, such as main engines, electricity generators and propellers.
If we fail to properly manage our growth through acquisitions of newbuild or secondhand vessels we may not realize the expected benefits from these acquisitions, which may negatively impact our cash flows, liquidity and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders. Unlike newbuild vessels, secondhand vessels typically do not carry warranties as to their condition. While we generally inspect existing vessels prior to purchase, such an inspection would normally not provide us with as much knowledge of a vessel's condition as we would possess if it had been built for us and operated by us during its life. Repairs and maintenance costs for secondhand vessels are difficult to predict and may be substantially higher than for vessels we have operated since they were built. These costs could decrease our cash flows, liquidity and our ability to pay dividends to our stockholders.
Our business depends upon certain members of our senior management who may not necessarily continue to work for us.
Our future success depends to a significant extent upon our chairman and chief executive officer, Aristides J. Pittas, certain members of our senior management and our Manager. Mr. Pittas has substantial experience in the container shipping industry and has worked with us and our Manager for many years. He, our Manager and certain members of our senior management team are crucial to the execution of our business strategies and to the growth and development of our business. If these individuals were no longer to be affiliated with us or our Manager, or if we were to otherwise cease to receive services from them, we may be unable to recruit other employees with equivalent talent and experience, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Certain of our shareholders hold shares of Euroseas in amounts to give them a significant percentage of the total outstanding voting power represented by our outstanding shares.
As of April 1, 2019, Friends Investment Company Inc. (or "Friends"), our largest shareholder and an affiliate of the Company partly owned by our Chairman and CEO, Vice Chairman and people affiliated or working with Eurobulk amongst others, owns approximately 29.6% of the outstanding shares of our common stock and unvested incentive award shares, representing 25.3% of total voting power (after accounting for the voting rights of our Series B Preferred Shares (defined below)). As a result of this share ownership and for as long as Friends owns a significant percentage of our outstanding common stock, Friends will be able to influence the outcome of any shareholder vote, including the election of directors, the adoption or amendment of provisions in our amended and restated articles of incorporation or bylaws, as amended, and possible mergers, corporate control contests and other significant corporate transactions. In addition, as of April 1, 2019, funds advised by Tennenbaum Capital Partners LLC ("TCP") and Preferred Friends Investment Company Inc., an affiliate of the Company partly owned by our Chairman and CEO, Vice Chairman and people affiliated or working
with Eurobulk amongst others, owned shares of our Series B Preferred Shares, to which we will refer as the Series B Preferred Shares, that are convertible into 20.8% and 4.7%, respectively, of our common shares and unvested incentive award shares on an as-converted basis. In addition, we cannot enter into certain transactions without consent from holders of our Series B Preferred Shares. This concentration of ownership and the consent rights of holders of Series B Preferred Shares may have the effect of delaying, deferring or preventing a change in control, merger, consolidation, takeover or other business combination involving us, and could also discourage a potential acquirer from making a tender offer or otherwise attempting to obtain control of us, which could in turn have an adverse effect on the market price of our common stock.
Our corporate governance practices are in compliance with, and are not prohibited by, the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and as such we are entitled to exemption from certain Nasdaq corporate governance standards. As a result, you may not have the same protections afforded to stockholders of companies that are subject to all of the Nasdaq corporate governance requirements.
Our Company's corporate governance practices are in compliance with, and are not prohibited by, the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Therefore, we are exempt from many of Nasdaq's corporate governance practices other than the requirements regarding the disclosure of a going concern audit opinion, submission of a listing agreement, notification of material non-compliance with Nasdaq corporate governance practices, and the establishment and composition of an audit committee and a formal written audit committee charter. For a list of the practices followed by us in lieu of Nasdaq's corporate governance rules, we refer you to the section of this annual report entitled "Board Practices—Corporate Governance" under Item 6.
We and our principal officers have affiliations with the Manager that could create conflicts of interest detrimental to us.
Our principal officers are also principals, officers and employees of the Manager, which is our ship management company. These responsibilities and relationships could create conflicts of interest between us and the Manager. Conflicts may also arise in connection with the chartering, purchase, sale and operations of the vessels in our fleet versus other vessels that are or may be managed in the future by the Manager. Circumstances in any of these instances may make one decision advantageous to us but detrimental to the Manager and vice versa. Eurobulk currently manages vessels for Euroseas and eight vessels that are not owned by Euroseas, potentially causing conflicts such as those described above. Further, it is possible that in the future Eurobulk may manage additional vessels which will not belong to Euroseas and in which the Pittas family may have non-controlling, little or even no power or participation, and Eurobulk may not be able to resolve all conflicts of interest in a manner beneficial to us and our shareholders.
Companies affiliated with Eurobulk or our officers and directors may acquire vessels that compete with our fleet.
Companies affiliated with Eurobulk or our officers and directors own container carriers and may acquire additional containership vessels in the future. These vessels could be in competition with our fleet and other companies affiliated with Eurobulk might be faced with conflicts of interest with respect to their own interests and their obligations to us. Eurobulk, Friends and Aristides J. Pittas, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, have granted us a right of first refusal to acquire any containership that any of them may consider for acquisition in the future. In addition, Aristides J. Pittas will use his best efforts to cause any entity with respect to which he directly or indirectly controls to grant us this right of first refusal. Were we, however, to decline any such opportunity offered to us or if we did not have the resources or desire to accept any such opportunity, Eurobulk, Friends and Aristides J. Pittas, and any of their respective affiliates, could acquire such vessels.
Our officers do not devote all of their time to our business.
Our officers are involved in other business activities that may result in their spending less time than is appropriate or necessary in order to manage our business successfully. Our Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Administrative Officer, Internal Auditor and Secretary are not employed directly by us, but rather their services are provided pursuant to our Master Management Agreement with Eurobulk. All our corporate officers hold similar positions with EuroDry, a publicly listed company spun-off from Euroseas in May 2018, and our CEO is also President of Eurobulk and involved in the management of other affiliates and is a member of the board of other companies. Therefore, our officers may spend a material portion of their time providing services to other companies. They may also spend a material portion of their time providing services to Eurobulk and its affiliates on matters unrelated to us.
We are a holding company, and we depend on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute funds to us in order to satisfy our financial obligations or to make dividend payments.
We are a holding company and our subsidiaries, which are all wholly-owned by us, conduct all of our operations and own all of our operating assets. We have no significant assets other than the equity interests in our wholly-owned subsidiaries. As a result, our ability to make dividend payments to you depends on our subsidiaries and their ability to distribute funds to us. If we are unable to obtain funds from our subsidiaries, we may be unable or our Board of Directors may exercise its discretion not to pay dividends.
We may not be able to pay dividends.
Our Board of Directors decided to suspend the quarterly dividend in the fourth quarter of 2013 in order to focus every resource available in exploiting investment opportunities in the market. Our last dividend of $0.15 per share was declared in August 2013 and was paid in September 2013. This was the thirty-second consecutive quarterly dividend declared and paid. We have not declared any dividends on our common stock since then, and we may not resume dividend payments as we may not earn sufficient revenues or we may incur expenses or liabilities that would reduce or eliminate the cash available for distribution as dividends. Our loan agreements may also limit the amount of dividends we can pay under some circumstances based on certain covenants included in the loan agreements.
The declaration and payment of any dividends will be subject at all times to the discretion of our Board of Directors. Our Series B Preferred Shares provide that we must pay a cash dividend to holders of the Series B Preferred Shares in an amount equal to 40% of any dividend we pay on our common shares on an as-converted-basis in addition to the dividend of the Series B Preferred Shares that is payable at the time. This provision may be an important factor when our Board of Directors determines whether to declare dividends on our common shares. The timing and amount of dividends will depend on our earnings, financial condition, cash requirements and availability, restrictions in our loan agreements, growth strategy, charter rates in the container shipping industry, the provisions of Marshall Islands law affecting the payment of dividends and other factors. Marshall Islands law generally prohibits the payment of dividends other than from surplus (retained earnings and the excess of consideration received for the sale of shares above the par value of the shares), but, if there is no surplus, dividends may be declared out of the net profits (basically, the excess of our revenue over our expenses) for the fiscal year in which the dividend is declared or the preceding fiscal year. Marshall Islands law also prohibits the payment of dividends while a company is insolvent or if it would be rendered insolvent upon the payment of a dividend. As a result, we may not be able to pay dividends.
If we do not have sufficient cash to pay dividends on our Series B Preferred Shares when due, we may suffer adverse consequences.
Until January 29, 2019, we were able to pay dividends on our Series B Preferred Shares in-kind (rather than in cash). After that date, dividends to holders of the Series B Preferred Shares must be paid in cash. If we do not have sufficient cash to pay dividends to holders of the Series B Preferred Shares, then our failure to pay such dividends would be a dividend payment default and would therefore cause the dividend rate to increase, pursuant to the terms of the Statement of Designations of the Series B Preferred Shares. In addition, failure to pay dividends on our Series B Preferred Shares when due will adversely affect our ability utilize shelf registration statements to sell our securities, which has been an important fund-raising avenue for us in the past.
If we are unable to fund our capital expenditures, we may not be able to continue to operate some of our vessels, which would have a material adverse effect on our business and our ability to pay dividends.
In order to fund our capital expenditures, we may be required to incur borrowings or raise capital through the sale of debt or equity securities. Our ability to access the capital markets through future offerings may be limited by our financial condition at the time of any such offering as well as by adverse market conditions resulting from, among other things, general economic conditions and contingencies and uncertainties that are beyond our control. Our failure to obtain the funds for necessary future capital expenditures, including for our vessel under construction, would limit our ability to continue to operate some of our vessels and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition and our ability to pay dividends. Even if we are successful in obtaining such funds through financings, the terms of such financings could further limit our ability to pay dividends.
Our existing loan agreements contain restrictive covenants that may limit our liquidity and corporate activities.
Our existing loan agreements impose operating and financial restrictions on us. These restrictions may limit our ability to:
incur additional indebtedness;
create liens on our assets;
sell capital stock of our subsidiaries;
engage in mergers or acquisitions;
make capital expenditures;
change the management of our vessels or terminate or materially amend the management agreement relating to each vessel; and
sell our vessels.
Therefore, we may need to seek permission from our lenders in order to engage in some corporate actions. The lenders' interests may be different from our interests, and we may not be able to obtain the lenders' permission when needed. This may prevent us from taking actions that are in our best interest.
Servicing future debt would limit funds available for other purposes.
To finance our fleet, we have incurred secured debt under loan agreements for our vessels. We also currently expect to incur additional secured debt to finance the acquisition of additional vessels we may decide to acquire in the future. We must dedicate a portion of our cash flow from operations to pay the principal and interest on our debt. These payments limit funds otherwise available for working capital expenditures and other purposes. As of December 31, 2018, we had total bank debt of approximately $37.5 million. Our debt repayment schedule as of December 31, 2018 required us to repay $10.42 million of debt during the next two years and all remaining debt in the third year. As of April 1, 2019, we repaid $1.3 million of our total debt decreasing our outstanding debt to $36.2 million. If we are unable to service our debt, it could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
A further rise in interest rates could cause an increase in our costs and have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. To finance vessel purchases, we have borrowed, and may continue to borrow, under loan agreements that provide for periodic interest rate adjustments based on indices that fluctuate with changes in market interest rates. If interest rates increase significantly, it would increase our costs of financing our acquisition of vessels, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. Any increase in debt service would also reduce the funds available to us to purchase other vessels.
Our ability to obtain additional debt financing may be dependent on the performance of our then existing charters and the creditworthiness of our charterers.
The actual or perceived credit quality of our charterers, and any defaults by them, may be one of the factors that materially affect our ability to obtain the additional debt financing that we will require to purchase additional vessels or may significantly increase our costs of obtaining such financing. We may be unable to obtain additional financing, or may be able to obtain additional financing only at a higher-than-anticipated cost, which may materially affect our results of operations, cash flows and our ability to implement our business strategy.
Credit market volatility may affect our ability to refinance our existing debt or incur additional debt.
The credit markets have recently experienced extreme volatility and disruption, which has limited credit capacity for certain issuers, and lenders have requested shorter terms and lower leverage ratios. The market for new debt financing is extremely limited and in some cases not available at all. If current levels of market disruption and volatility continue or worsen, we may not be able to refinance our existing debt or incur additional debt, which may require us to seek other funding sources to meet our liquidity needs or to fund planned expansion.
If volatility in LIBOR occurs, it could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
LIBOR has historically been volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions are the result of the disruptions in the international credit markets. Because the interest rates borne by our outstanding indebtedness fluctuate with changes in LIBOR, if this volatility were to occur, it would affect the amount of interest payable on our debt, which in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flow.
Furthermore, interest rates in most financing agreements in our industry have been based on published LIBOR rates. Our loan agreements contain provisions that entitle the lenders, in their discretion, to replace published LIBOR as the base for the interest calculation with their cost-of-funds rate if the quoted LIBOR rate does not reflect their true cost-of-funds or if it is unavailable. Since some of our loans have such clauses, our borrowing costs could increase significantly if there is a market disruption of LIBOR, which could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flows.
In addition, the banks currently reporting information used to set LIBOR will likely stop such reporting after 2021, when their commitment to reporting information ends. The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, or "Committee", a committee convened by the Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or "SOFR." The impact of such a transition away from LIBOR would be significant for us because of our substantial indebtedness. In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations, we may from time to time use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may
affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position.
As we expand our business, we may need to upgrade our operations and financial systems, and add more staff and crew. If we cannot upgrade these systems or recruit suitable employees, our performance may be adversely affected.
Our Manager's current operating and financial systems may not be adequate if we expand the size of our fleet, and our attempts to improve those systems may be ineffective. In addition, if we expand our fleet, we will have to rely on our Manager to recruit suitable additional seafarers and shore-side administrative and management personnel. Our Manager may not be able to continue to hire suitable employees as we expand our fleet. If our Manager's affiliated crewing agent encounters business or financial difficulties, we can make satisfactory arrangements with unaffiliated crewing agents or else we may not be able to adequately staff our vessels. If we are unable to operate our financial and operations systems effectively or to recruit suitable employees, our performance may be materially adversely affected.
If we acquire additional ships, whether on the secondhand market or newbuildings, and those vessels are not delivered on time or are delivered with significant defects, our earnings and financial condition could be adversely affected.
We expect to acquire additional vessels in the future either from the secondhand markets or by placing newbuilding orders. A delay in the delivery of any of these vessels to us or the failure of the contract counterparty to deliver a vessel at all could cause us to breach our obligations under a related time charter and could adversely affect our earnings, our financial condition and the amount of dividends, if any, that we pay in the future. The delivery of any vessels we might decide to acquire, whether newbuildings or secondhand vessels, could be delayed or certain events may arise which could result in us not taking delivery of a vessel, such as a total loss of a vessel, a constructive loss of a vessel, substantial damage to a vessel prior to delivery or construction not in accordance with agreed upon specification or with substantial defects.
Labor interruptions could disrupt our business.
Our vessels are manned by masters, officers and crews that are employed by third parties. If not resolved in a timely and cost-effective manner, industrial action or other labor unrest could prevent or hinder our operations from being carried out normally and could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
We will not be able to take advantage of potentially favorable opportunities in the current market with respect to vessels employed on time charters.
As of April 1, 2019, all of our vessels are employed under time charters with remaining terms ranging from less than one month to eleven months based on the minimum duration of the charter contracts. The percentage of our fleet that is under time charter contracts represents approximately 55% of our vessel capacity in the remainder of 2019 and 4% of our capacity in 2020. Although time charters provide relatively steady streams of revenue, vessels committed to time charters may not be available for chartering during periods of increasing charter rates. If we cannot re-charter these vessels on time charters or trade them profitably, our results of operations and operating cash flow may suffer. We may not be able to secure charter rates in the future that will enable us to operate our vessels profitably. Although we do not receive any revenues from certain of our vessels while such vessels are unemployed, we are required to pay expenses necessary to maintain the vessel in proper operating condition, insure it and service any indebtedness secured by such vessel. Despite the fact that as of April 1, 2019 all of our vessels are employed, we may be forced to lay up vessels if rates drop to levels below daily running expenses or if we are unable to find employment for the vessels for prolonged periods of time.
We or our Manager may be unable to attract and retain key management personnel and other employees in the shipping industry, which may negatively affect the effectiveness of our management and our results of operations.
Our success depends to a significant extent upon the abilities and efforts of our management team. Our success will depend upon our and our Manager's ability to hire additional employees and to retain key members of our management team. The loss of any of these individuals could adversely affect our business prospects and financial condition and operating cash flows. Difficulty in hiring and retaining personnel could adversely affect our results of operations. We do not currently intend to maintain "key man" life insurance on any of our officers.
Risks involved with operating ocean-going vessels could affect our business and reputation, which may reduce our revenues.
The operation of an ocean-going vessel carries inherent risks. These risks include, among others, the possibility of:
grounding, fire, explosions and collisions;
cargo and property losses or damage;
business interruptions caused by mechanical failure, human error, war, terrorism, political action in various countries, labor strikes or adverse weather conditions; and
work stoppages or other labor problems with crew members serving on our vessels including crew strikes and/or boycotts.
Such occurrences could result in death or injury to persons, loss of property or environmental damage, delays in the delivery of cargo, loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business, higher insurance rates, and damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally. Any of these circumstances or events could increase our costs or lower our revenues, which could result in reduction in the market price of our shares of common stock. The involvement of our vessels in an environmental disaster may harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.
The operation of containerships has certain unique operational risks which could affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to pay dividends.
The operation of certain ship types, such as containerships, has certain unique risks.
Containerships operate at higher speeds as compared to other ocean-going vessels in order to move cargoes around the world quickly and minimize delivery delays. These high speeds can result in greater impact in collisions and groundings resulting in more damage to the vessel when compared to vessels operating at lower speeds. In addition, due to the placement of the containers on a containership, there is a greater risk that containers carried on deck will be lost overboard if an accident does occur. Furthermore, with the highly varied cargo that can be carried on a single containership, there can be additional difficulties with any clean-up operation following an accident. Also, we may not be able to correctly control the contents and condition of cargoes within the containers which may give rise to events such as customer complaints, accidents on-board the ships or problems with authorities due to carriage of illegal cargoes. Any of these circumstances or events could negatively impact our business, financial condition, results of operations and ability to pay dividends. In addition, the loss of any of our vessels could harm our reputation as a safe and reliable vessel owner and operator.
Our vessels may suffer damage and may face unexpected drydocking costs, which could affect our cash flows and financial condition.
If our vessels suffer damage, they may need to be repaired at a drydocking facility. The costs of drydock repairs are unpredictable and may be substantial. We may have to pay drydocking costs that our insurance does not cover. The loss of earnings while these vessels are being repaired and reconditioned, as well as the actual cost of these repairs, would decrease our earnings. In addition, space at drydocking facilities is sometimes limited and not all drydocking facilities are conveniently located. We may be unable to find space at a suitable drydocking facility or our vessels may be forced to travel to a drydocking facility that is not conveniently located near our vessels' positions. The loss of earnings and any costs incurred while these vessels are forced to wait for space or to steam to more distant drydocking facilities would decrease our earnings.
Purchasing and operating previously owned vessels may result in increased operating costs and vessels off-hire, which could adversely affect our earnings. The aging of our fleet may result in increased operating costs in the future, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
Although we inspect the secondhand vessels prior to purchase, this inspection does not provide us with the same knowledge about their condition and cost of any required (or anticipated) repairs that it would have had if these vessels had been built for and operated exclusively by us. Generally, we do not receive the benefit of warranties on secondhand vessels.
In general, the costs to maintain a vessel in good operating condition increase with the age of the vessel. As of April 1, 2019, the vessels in our fleet had an average age of approximately 20.5 years. As our vessels age, they may become less fuel efficient and more costly to maintain and will not be as advanced as more recently constructed vessels due to improvements in design and engine technology. Rates for cargo insurance, paid by charterers, also increase with the age of a vessel, making older vessels less desirable to charterers. Governmental regulations, safety or other equipment standards related to the age of vessels may require expenditures for alterations, or the addition of new equipment, to our vessels and may restrict the type of activities in which our vessels may engage. As
our vessels age, market conditions may not justify those expenditures or enable us to operate our vessels profitably during the remainder of their useful lives.
If we sell vessels, we are not certain that the price for which we sell them will equal their carrying amount at that time.
Unless we set aside reserves for vessel replacement, at the end of a vessel's useful life, our revenue will decline, which would adversely affect our cash flows and income.
As of April 1, 2019, the vessels in our fleet had an average age of approximately 20.5 years. Unless we maintain cash reserves for vessel replacement, we may be unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives. We estimate the useful life of our vessels to be 25 years from the completion of their construction. Our cash flows and income are dependent on the revenues we earn by chartering our vessels to customers. If we are unable to replace the vessels in our fleet upon the expiration of their useful lives, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially adversely affected. Any reserves set aside for vessel replacement would not be available for other cash needs or dividends.
Technological innovation could reduce our charter income and the value of our vessels.
The charter rates and the value and operational life of a vessel are determined by a number of factors including the vessel's efficiency, operational flexibility and physical life. Efficiency includes speed, fuel economy and the ability to load and discharge cargo quickly. Flexibility includes the ability to enter harbors, utilize related docking facilities and pass through canals and straits. The length of a vessel's physical life is related to its original design and construction, its maintenance and the impact of the stress of operations. If new vessels are built that are more efficient or more flexible or have longer physical lives than our vessels, competition from these more technologically advanced vessels could adversely affect the amount of charter hire payments we receive for our vessels and the resale value of our vessels could significantly decrease. As a result, our available cash could be adversely affected.
We are subject to certain risks with respect to our counterparties on contracts, and failure of such counterparties to meet their obligations could cause us to suffer losses or otherwise adversely affect our business.
We enter into, among other things, charter-party agreements. Such agreements subject us to counterparty risks. The ability and willingness of each of our counterparties to perform its obligations under a contract with us will depend on a number of factors that are beyond our control and may include, among other things, general economic conditions, the condition of the maritime and offshore industries, the overall financial condition of the counterparty, charter rates received for specific types of vessels, and various expenses. In addition, in depressed market conditions, our charterers may no longer need a vessel that is currently under charter or may be able to obtain a comparable vessel at lower rates. As a result, charterers may seek to renegotiate the terms of their existing charter parties or avoid their obligations under those contracts, especially when the contracted charter rates are significantly above market levels. Should a counterparty fail to honor its obligations under agreements with us, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure in the spot market or on time charters would be at lower rates given currently decreased charter rate levels. If our charterers fail to meet their obligations to us or attempt to renegotiate our charter agreements, it may be difficult to secure substitute employment for such vessel, and any new charter arrangements we secure in the spot market or on time charters may be at lower rates given currently decreased charter rate levels. As a result, we could sustain significant losses which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows, as well as our ability to pay dividends in the future and compliance with covenants in our credit facilities.
A drop in spot charter rates may provide an incentive for some charterers to default on their charters.
When we enter into a time charter, charter rates under that charter are fixed for the term of the charter. If the spot charter rates or short-term time charter rates in the containership, drybulk, tanker or offshore support shipping industries remain significantly lower than the time charter equivalent rates that some of our charterers are obligated to pay us under our existing charters, the charterers may have incentive to default under that charter or attempt to renegotiate the charter. If our charterers fail to pay their obligations, we would have to attempt to re-charter our vessels at lower charter rates, which would affect our ability to operate our vessels profitably and may affect our ability to comply with covenants contained in our current or future credit facilities and financing agreements.
We may not have adequate insurance to compensate us adequately for damage to, or loss of, our vessels.
We procure insurance for our fleet against risks commonly insured against by vessel owners and operators which includes hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance (which, in turn, includes environmental damage and pollution insurance) and war risk insurance and freight, demurrage and defense insurance for our fleet. We generally do not maintain insurance against loss of hire which covers business interruptions that result in the loss of use of a vessel except in cases we consider such protection appropriate. We may not be adequately insured against all risks and we may not be able to obtain adequate insurance coverage for our fleet in the future. The insurers may not pay particular claims. Even if our insurance coverage is adequate to cover our losses, we may
not be able to timely obtain a replacement vessel in the event of a loss. Our insurance policies contain deductibles for which we will be responsible and limitations and exclusions which may increase our costs. Since it is possible that a large number of claims may be brought, the aggregate amount of these deductibles could be material. Moreover, the insurers may default on any claims they are required to pay. If our insurance is not enough to cover claims that may arise, it may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
Because we obtain some of our insurance through protection and indemnity associations, we may also be subject to calls in amounts based not only on our own claim records, but also the claim records of other members of the protection and indemnity associations.
We are indemnified for legal liabilities incurred while operating our vessels through membership in P&I associations or clubs. P&I associations are mutual insurance associations whose members must contribute to cover losses sustained by other association members. The objective of a P&I association is to provide mutual insurance based on the aggregate tonnage of a member's vessels entered into the association. Claims are paid through the aggregate premiums of all members of the association, although members remain subject to calls for additional funds if the aggregate premiums are insufficient to cover claims submitted to the association. We cannot assure you that the P&I association to which we belong will remain viable or that we will not become subject to additional funding calls which could adversely affect us. Claims submitted to the association may include those incurred by members of the association as well as claims submitted to the association from other P&I associations with which our P&I association has entered into inter-association agreements.
We may be subject to calls in amounts based not only on our claim records but also the claim records of other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which we receive insurance coverage for tort liability, including pollution-related liability. Our payment of these calls could result in significant expense to us, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, cash flows, financial condition and ability to pay dividends.
Our vessels are exposed to operational risks, including terrorism, cyber-terrorism and piracy that may not be adequately covered by our insurance.
The operation of any vessel includes risks such as weather conditions, mechanical failure, collision, fire, contact with floating objects, cargo or property loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in countries, piracy, terrorist and cyber-terrorist attacks, armed hostilities and labor strikes. Such occurrences could result in death or injury to persons, loss, damage or destruction of property or environmental damage, delays in the delivery of cargo, loss of revenues from or termination of charter contracts, governmental fines, penalties or restrictions on conducting business, higher insurance rates and damage to our reputation and customer relationships generally.
Acts of piracy have historically affected ocean-going vessels trading in regions of the world such as the South China Sea, the Indian Ocean and in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia. Although the frequency of sea piracy worldwide has generally decreased since 2013, sea piracy incidents continue to occur, particularly in the Gulf of Aden off the coast of Somalia and increasingly in the Sulu Sea and the Gulf of Guinea, with dry bulk vessels and tankers particularly vulnerable to such attacks. Acts of piracy could result in harm or danger to the crews that man our vessels.
If these piracy attacks occur in regions in which our vessels are deployed that insurers characterized as "war risk" zones or Joint War Committee "war and strikes" listed areas, premiums payable for such coverage could increase significantly and such insurance coverage may be more difficult to obtain. In addition, crew costs, including the employment of onboard security guards, could increase in such circumstances. Furthermore, while we believe the charterer remains liable for charter payments when a vessel is seized by pirates, the charterer may dispute this and withhold charter-hire until the vessel is released. A charterer may also claim that a vessel seized by pirates was not "on-hire" for a certain number of days and is therefore entitled to cancel the charter party, a claim that we would dispute. We may not be adequately insured to cover losses from these incidents, which could have a material adverse effect on us. In addition, any detention hijacking as a result of an act of piracy against our vessels, or an increase in cost, or unavailability, of insurance for our vessels, could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and earnings.
We may not be adequately insured against all risks, and our insurers may not pay particular claims. With respect to war risks insurance, which we usually obtain for certain of our vessels making port calls in designated war zone areas, such insurance may not be obtained prior to one of our vessels entering into an actual war zone, which could result in that vessel not being insured. Even if our insurance coverage is adequate to cover our losses, we may not be able to timely obtain a replacement vessel in the event of a loss. Under the terms of our credit facilities, we will be subject to restrictions on the use of any proceeds we may receive from claims under our insurance policies. Furthermore, in the future, we may not be able to maintain or obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates for our fleet. We may also be subject to calls, or premiums, in amounts based not only on our own claim records but also the claim records of all other members of the protection and indemnity associations through which we receive indemnity insurance coverage for tort liability. Our insurance policies also contain deductibles, limitations and exclusions which, although we believe are standard in the shipping industry, may nevertheless increase our costs in the event of a claim or decrease any recovery in the event of a loss. If the
damages from a catastrophic oil spill or other marine disaster exceeded our insurance coverage, the payment of those damages could have a material adverse effect on our business and could possibly result in our insolvency.
Recent action by the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and U.S. agencies indicate that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. This might cause companies to cultivate additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures. However, the impact of such regulations is hard to predict at this time. We do not carry cyber-attack insurance, which could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
In general, we do not carry loss of hire insurance. Occasionally, we may decide to carry loss of hire insurance when our vessels are trading in areas where a history of piracy has been reported. Loss of hire insurance covers the loss of revenue during extended vessel off-hire periods, such as those that occur during an unscheduled drydocking or unscheduled repairs due to damage to the vessel. Accordingly, any loss of a vessel or any extended period of vessel off-hire, due to an accident or otherwise, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If our vessels call on ports located in countries that are subject to restrictions, sanctions or embargoes imposed by the U.S. government, the European Union, the United Nations and other governments it could lead to monetary fines and/or adversely affect our reputation and the market for our shares of common stock and its trading price.
From time to time, vessels in our fleet on charterers' instructions may call on ports located in countries subject to sanctions and embargoes imposed by the U.S. government and countries identified by the U.S. government, the European Union, the United Nations and other governments. We endeavor to have trade exclusion clauses included in the charter contracts. All of our charters contain trade exclusion clauses relating to, among other locations, countries deemed by the United States as state sponsors of terrorism. The U.S. sanctions and embargo laws and regulations vary in their application, as they do not all apply to the same covered persons or proscribe the same activities, and such sanctions and embargo laws and regulations may be amended or strengthened over time. The U.S. government has recently lifted certain sanctions with respect to Libya and made changes to the scope of the sanctions regime for Iran. Although the United States suspended certain sanctions against Iran applicable to non-U.S. companies, such as us, on January 16, 2016 pursuant to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a nuclear agreement reached between Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union, in May 2018, President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and almost all of the U.S. sanctions waived and lifted in January 2016 were reinstated in August 2018 and November 2018.
The United States sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control ("OFAC") of the U.S. Department of the Treasury principally apply, with limited exception, to U.S. persons (defined as any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States, or any person in the United States) only, not to non-U.S. companies. The United States can, however, extend sanctions liability to non-U.S. persons, including non-U.S. companies, such as our Company.
The United States can also remove sanctions it has previously imposed. On January 16, 2016, the United States suspended certain sanctions against Iran applicable to non-U.S. companies, such as us, pursuant to the nuclear agreement reached between Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. To implement these changes, beginning on January 16, 2016, the United States waived enforcement as to non-U.S. companies of many of the sanctions against Iran's energy and petrochemical sectors described above, among other things, including certain provisions of CISADA, ITRA, and IFCA. In May 2018, President Trump announced the withdrawal of the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and almost all of the U.S. sanctions waived and lifted in January 2016 were reinstated in August 2018 and November 2018, respectively.
U.S. sanctions prohibiting certain conduct that is now permitted under the JCPOA have not actually been repealed or permanently terminated at this time. Rather, the U.S. government has implemented changes to the sanctions regime by: (1) issuing waivers of certain statutory sanctions provisions; (2) committing to refrain from exercising certain discretionary sanctions authorities; (3) removing certain individuals and entities from OFAC's sanctions lists; and (4) revoking certain Executive Orders and specified sections of Executive Orders. These sanctions will not be permanently "lifted" until the earlier of "Transition Day," set to occur on October 20, 2023, or upon a report from the IAEA stating that all nuclear material in Iran is being used for peaceful activities. On October 13, 2017, President Trump announced he would not certify Iran's compliance with the JCPOA. This did not withdraw the U.S. from the JCPOA or re-instate any sanctions. However, President Trump must periodically renew sanctions waivers and his refusal to do so could result in the reinstatement of certain sanctions suspended under the JCPOA.
All of the Company's revenues are from chartering-out its vessels on voyage or time charter contracts. The Company's vessels can also enter into pooling arrangements under which an international company and trading house involved in the use and/or transportation of commodities directs the Company's vessel to carry cargoes on its behalf. In time charters and pooling arrangements, the Company has no contractual relationship with the owner of the cargo and does not know the identity of the cargo owner. The vessel
is directed to a load port to load the cargo, and to a discharge port to offload the cargo, based solely on the instructions of the charterer. As of April 1, 2019, none of our vessels have called on ports at the aforementioned countries in the past or are arranged to call such ports in the future. The vessels' shipowning companies do not presently have, and have not in the past had, any agreements, arrangements or contracts with the governments of Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria or Cuba or entities that these countries control.
Although we believe that we have been in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations, and intend to maintain such compliance, there can be no assurance that we will be in compliance with all applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations in the future, particularly as the scope of certain laws may be unclear and may be subject to changing interpretations. Any such violation could result in fines, penalties or other sanctions that could severely impact our ability to access U.S. capital markets and conduct our business, and could result in some investors deciding, or being required, to divest their interest, or not to invest, in us. In addition, certain institutional investors may have investment policies or restrictions that prevent them from holding securities of companies that have contracts with countries identified by the U.S. government as state sponsors of terrorism. The determination by these investors not to invest in, or to divest from, our common stock may adversely affect the price at which our common stock trades. Moreover, our charterers may violate applicable sanctions and embargo laws and regulations as a result of actions that do not involve us or our vessels, and those violations could in turn negatively affect our reputation. In addition, our reputation and the market for our securities may be adversely affected if we engage in certain other activities, such as entering into charters with individuals or entities in countries subject to U.S. sanctions and embargo laws that are not controlled by the governments of those countries, or engaging in operations associated with those countries pursuant to contracts with third parties that are unrelated to those countries or entities controlled by their governments. Investor perception of the value of our common stock may be adversely affected by the consequences of war, the effects of terrorism, civil unrest and governmental actions in these and surrounding countries
We expect to operate substantially outside the United States, which will expose us to political and governmental instability, which could harm our operations.
We expect that our operations will be primarily conducted outside the United States and may be adversely affected by changing or adverse political and governmental conditions in the countries where our vessels are flagged or registered and in the regions where we otherwise engage in business. Any disruption caused by these factors may interfere with the operation of our vessels, which could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations. Past political efforts to disrupt shipping in these regions, particularly in the Arabian Gulf, have included attacks on ships and mining of waterways. In addition, terrorist attacks outside this region, such as the attacks that occurred against targets in the United States on September 11, 2001 and in a number of occasions in other countries following that, as well as continuing or new unrest and hostilities in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Ukraine, Syria and elsewhere in the world may lead to additional armed conflicts or to further acts of terrorism and civil disturbance. Any such attacks or disturbances may disrupt our business, increase vessel operating costs, including insurance costs, and adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations. Our operations may also be adversely affected by expropriation of vessels, taxes, regulation, economic sanctions or other adverse events or circumstances in or affecting the countries and regions where we operate or where we may operate in the future.
Further, governments may turn to trade barriers to protect their domestic industries against foreign imports, thereby depressing shipping demand. In particular, leaders in the United States have indicated the United States may seek to implement more protective trade measures. President Donald Trump was elected on a platform promoting trade protectionism. The results of the presidential election have thus created significant uncertainty concerning the future relationship between the United States, China and other exporting countries, including with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. For example, on January 23, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order withdrawing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global trade agreement intended to include the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru and a number of Asian countries. In March 2018, President Trump announced tariffs on imported steel and aluminum into the United States that could have a negative impact on international trade generally. In January 2019, the United States announced expanded sanctions against Venezuela, which may have an effect on its oil output and in turn affect global oil supply. Protectionist developments, or the perception they may occur, may have a material adverse effect on global economic conditions, and may significantly reduce global trade. Moreover, increasing trade protectionism may cause an increase in:
(a) the cost of goods exported from regions globally,
(b) the length of time required to transport goods and
(c) the risks associated with exporting goods.
Such increases may significantly affect the quantity of goods to be shipped, shipping time schedules, voyage costs and other associated costs, which could have an adverse impact on our charterers' business, operating results and financial condition and could thereby affect their ability to make timely charter hire payments to us and to renew and increase the number of their time charters with us. This could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations, financial condition and our ability to pay any cash distributions to our stockholders.
The international nature of our operations may make the outcome of any bankruptcy proceedings difficult to predict.
We are incorporated under the laws of the Republic of the Marshall Islands and we conduct operations in countries around the world. Consequently, in the event of any bankruptcy, insolvency, liquidation, dissolution, reorganization or similar proceeding involving us or any of our subsidiaries, bankruptcy laws other than those of the United States could apply. If we become a debtor under U.S. bankruptcy law, bankruptcy courts in the United States may seek to assert jurisdiction over all of our assets, wherever located, including property situated in other countries. There can be no assurance, however, that we would become a debtor in the United States, or that a U.S. bankruptcy court would be entitled to, or accept, jurisdiction over such a bankruptcy case, or that courts in other countries that have jurisdiction over us and our operations would recognize a U.S. bankruptcy court's jurisdiction if any other bankruptcy court would determine it had jurisdiction.
Obligations associated with being a public company require significant company resources and management attention.
We are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, and the other rules and regulations of the SEC, including the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or Sarbanes-Oxley. Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley requires that we evaluate and determine the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.
We work with our legal, accounting and financial advisors to identify any areas in which changes should be made to our financial and management control systems to manage our growth and our obligations as a public company. We evaluate areas such as corporate governance, corporate control, internal audit, disclosure controls and procedures and financial reporting and accounting systems. We will make changes in any of these and other areas, including our internal control over financial reporting, which we believe are necessary. However, these and other measures we may take may not be sufficient to allow us to satisfy our obligations as a public company on a timely and reliable basis. In addition, compliance with reporting and other requirements applicable to public companies do create additional costs for us and will require the time and attention of management. Our limited management resources may exacerbate the difficulties in complying with these reporting and other requirements while focusing on executing our business strategy. We may not be able to predict or estimate the amount of the additional costs we may incur, the timing of such costs or the degree of impact that our management's attention to these matters will have on our business.
Exposure to currency exchange rate fluctuations will result in fluctuations in our cash flows and operating results.
We generate all our revenues in U.S. dollars, but we incur approximately 27% of our vessel operating expenses and drydocking expenses, all of our vessel management fees, and approximately 11% in 2018 of our general and administrative expenses in currencies other than the U.S. dollar. This could lead to fluctuations in our operating expenses, which would affect our financial results. Expenses incurred in foreign currencies increase when the value of the U.S. dollar falls, which would reduce our profitability and cash flows.
Interest rates in most loan agreements in our industry are based on variable components, such as LIBOR, and if such variable components increase significantly, it could affect our profitability, earnings and cash flows.
LIBOR in the past has been volatile, with the spread between LIBOR and the prime lending rate widening significantly at times. These conditions can be the result of disruptions in the international credit markets. Because the interest rates borne by our outstanding indebtedness fluctuate with changes in LIBOR, if this volatility were to continue, it would affect the amount of interest payable to service our debt, which in turn, could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flows.
Furthermore, interest rates in most loan agreements in our industry have been based on published LIBOR rates. Our loan agreements contain provisions that entitle the lenders, in their discretion, to replace published LIBOR as the base for the interest calculation with their cost-of-funds rate if the quoted LIBOR rate does not reflect their true cost-of-funds or if it is unavailable. Since some of our loans have such clauses, our borrowing costs could increase significantly if there is a market disruption of LIBOR, which could have an adverse effect on our profitability, earnings and cash flows.
In addition, the banks currently reporting information used to set LIBOR will likely stop such reporting after 2021, when their commitment to reporting information ends. The Alternative Reference Rate Committee, or "Committee", a committee convened by the Federal Reserve that includes major market participants, has proposed an alternative rate to replace U.S. Dollar LIBOR: the Secured Overnight Financing Rate, or "SOFR." The impact of such a transition away from LIBOR would be significant for us because of our substantial indebtedness. In order to manage our exposure to interest rate fluctuations, we may from time to time use interest rate derivatives to effectively fix some of our floating rate debt obligations. No assurance can however be given that the use of these derivative instruments, if any, may effectively protect us from adverse interest rate movements. The use of interest rate derivatives may affect our results through mark to market valuation of these derivatives. Also, adverse movements in interest rate derivatives may require us to post cash as collateral, which may impact our free cash position.
We depend upon a few significant customers for a large part of our revenues and the loss of one or more of these customers could adversely affect our financial performance.
We have historically derived a significant part of our revenues from a small number of charterers. During 2018, approximately 97% of our revenues derived from our top five charterers. During 2017 and 2016, approximately 91% and 83%, respectively, of our revenues derived from our top five charterers. If one or more of our charterers chooses not to charter our vessels or is unable to perform under one or more charters with us and we are not able to find a replacement charter, we could suffer a loss of revenues that could adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
United States tax authorities could treat us as a "passive foreign investment company," which could have adverse United States federal income tax consequences to United States holders.
A foreign corporation will be treated as a "passive foreign investment company," or PFIC, for United States federal income tax purposes if either (1) at least 75% of its gross income for any taxable year consists of certain types of "passive income" or (2) at least 50% of the average value of the corporation's assets produce or are held for the production of those types of "passive income." For purposes of these tests, "passive income" includes dividends, interest, and gains from the sale or exchange of investment property and rents and royalties other than rents and royalties which are received from unrelated parties in connection with the active conduct of a trade or business. For purposes of these tests, income derived from the performance of services does not constitute "passive income." United States shareholders of a PFIC are subject to a disadvantageous United States federal income tax regime with respect to the income derived by the PFIC, the distributions they receive from the PFIC and the gain, if any, they derive from the sale or other disposition of their shares in the PFIC. In addition, United States shareholders of a PFIC are required to file annual information returns with the United States Internal Revenue Service, or IRS.
Based on our current method of operation, we do not believe that we have been, are or will be a PFIC with respect to any taxable year. In this regard, we treat the gross income we derive or are deemed to derive from our time chartering activities as services income, rather than rental income. Accordingly, we believe that our income from our time chartering activities should not constitute "passive income," and the assets that we own and operate in connection with the production of that income should not constitute passive assets.
There is substantial legal authority supporting this position consisting of case law and IRS pronouncements concerning the characterization of income derived from time charters and voyage charters as services income for other tax purposes. However, it should be noted that there is also authority which characterizes time charter income as rental income rather than services income for other tax purposes. Accordingly, in the absence of legal authority directly relating to PFIC rules, no assurance can be given that the IRS or a court of law will accept this position, and there is a risk that the IRS or a court of law could determine that we are a PFIC. Moreover, no assurance can be given that we would not constitute a PFIC for any future taxable year if the nature and extent of our operations changed.
If the IRS were to find that we are or have been a PFIC for any taxable year, our United States shareholders will face adverse United States federal income tax consequences. Under the PFIC rules, unless those shareholders make an election available under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, (which election could itself have adverse consequences for such shareholders, as discussed in Item 10 of this Annual Report under "Taxation — United States Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders"), such shareholders would be subject to U.S. federal income tax at the then prevailing income tax rates on ordinary income plus interest upon excess distributions and upon any gain from the disposition of our shares, as if the excess distribution or gain had been recognized ratably over the United States shareholder's holding period of our shares. See "Taxation — United States Federal Income Taxation of U.S. Holders" in this Annual Report under Item 10 for a more comprehensive discussion of the United States federal income tax consequences to United States shareholders if we are treated as a PFIC.
Based on the current and expected composition of our and our subsidiaries' assets and income, it is not anticipated that we will be treated as a PFIC. Our actual PFIC status for any taxable year, however, will not be determinable until after the end of such taxable year. Accordingly, there can be no assurances regarding our status as a PFIC for the current taxable year or any future taxable year. See the discussion in the section entitled "Item 10.E. Taxation — Passive Foreign Investment Company Regulations." We urge U.S. Holders to consult with their own tax advisors regarding the possible application of the PFIC rules.
If management is unable to provide reports as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting, investors could lose confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which could result in a decrease in the value of our common stock.
Under Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley, we are required to include in each of our annual reports on Form 20-F a report containing our management's assessment of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting. If, in such annual reports on Form 20-F, our management cannot provide a report as to the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting as required by Section 404, investors could lose confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which could result in a decrease in the value of our common stock.
We are subject to United States federal income tax on United States source income, which may reduce our earnings.
Under the United States Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, or the Code, 50% of the gross shipping income of a vessel owning or chartering corporation, such as ourselves and our subsidiaries, that is attributable to transportation that begins or ends, but that does not both begin and end, in the United States may be subject to a 4% United States federal income tax without allowance for deduction, unless that corporation qualifies for exemption from tax under Section 883 of the Code and the regulations promulgated thereunder.
We did not qualify for this statutory tax exemption under Section 883 of the Code for the 2016, 2017 and 2018 taxable years, although we may be able to qualify for this exemption in future taxable years.
Since we and our subsidiaries are not entitled to the exemption under Section 883 of the Code for the 2018 taxable year, we and our subsidiaries are subject to an effective 2% United States federal income tax on the shipping income we derived during 2018 that is attributable to the transport of cargoes to or from the United States. The amount of this tax was $21,275 and $15,135 for the 2016 and 2017 taxable years, respectively, and we estimate this to be approximately $12,311 for the 2018 taxable year.
Failure to comply with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act could result in fines, criminal penalties, and an adverse effect on our business.
We operate in a number of countries throughout the world, including countries known to have a reputation for corruption. We are committed to doing business in accordance with applicable anti-corruption laws and have adopted a code of business conduct and ethics which is consistent and in full compliance with the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. We are subject, however, to the risk that we, our affiliated entities or our or their respective officers, directors, employees and agents may take action determined to be in violation of such anti-corruption laws, including the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. Any such violation could result in substantial fines, sanctions, civil and/or criminal penalties, curtailment of operations in certain jurisdictions, and might adversely affect our business, results of operations or financial condition. In addition, actual or alleged violations could damage our reputation and ability to do business. Furthermore, detecting, investigating, and resolving actual or alleged violations is expensive and can consume significant time and attention of our senior management.
It may be difficult to enforce service of process and enforcement of judgments against us and our officers and directors.
We are a Marshall Islands corporation, and our subsidiaries are incorporated in jurisdictions outside of the United States. Our executive offices are located outside of the United States in Maroussi, Greece. A majority of our directors and officers reside outside of the United States, and a substantial portion of our assets and the assets of our officers and directors are located outside of the United States. As a result, you may have difficulty serving legal process within the United States upon us or any of these persons. You may also have difficulty enforcing, both in and outside of the United States, judgments you may obtain in the U.S. courts against us or these persons in any action, including actions based upon the civil liability provisions of U.S. federal or state securities laws.
There is also substantial doubt that the courts of the Marshall Islands, Greece or jurisdictions in which our subsidiaries are organized would enter judgments in original actions brought in those courts predicated on U.S. federal or state securities laws. In addition, the protection afforded minority shareholders in the Marshall Islands is different than those offered in the United States.
Risk Factors Relating To Our Common Stock
The trading volume for our common stock has been low, which may cause our common stock to trade at lower prices and make it difficult for you to sell your common stock.
Although our shares of common stock traded on the Nasdaq Global Market since January 31, 2007 and on the Nasdaq Global Select Market since January 1, 2008, and have traded on the Nasdaq Capital Market since June 26, 2015, the trading volume has been lower over the last couple of years. Our shares may not actively trade in the public market and any such limited liquidity may cause our common stock to trade at lower prices and make it difficult to sell your common stock.
The market price of our common stock has been and may in the future be subject to significant fluctuations.
The market price of our common stock has been and may in the future be subject to significant fluctuations as a result of many factors, some of which are beyond our control. Among the factors that have in the past and could in the future affect our stock price are:
actual or anticipated fluctuations in quarterly and annual variations in our results of operations;
changes in market valuations or sales or earnings estimates or publication of research reports by analysts;
changes in earnings estimates or shortfalls in our operating results from levels forecasted by securities analysts;
speculation in the press or investment community about our business or the shipping industry;
changes in market valuations of similar companies and stock market price and volume fluctuations generally;
payment of dividends;
strategic actions by us or our competitors such as mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, strategic alliances or restructurings;
changes in government and other regulatory developments;
additions or departures of key personnel;
general market conditions and the state of the securities markets; and
domestic and international economic, market and currency factors unrelated to our performance.
The international container shipping industry has been highly unpredictable. In addition, the stock markets in general, and the markets for container shipping and shipping stocks in general, have experienced extreme volatility that has sometimes been unrelated to the operating performance of particular companies. These broad market fluctuations may adversely affect the trading price of our common stock. Our shares may trade at prices lower than you originally paid for such shares.
We received notice from the Nasdaq Stock Market that our common stock did not meet the Nasdaq Capital Market's minimum share price requirement, and if we cannot cure such deficiency within the prescribed timeframe, our common stock could be delisted.
Under the rules of the Nasdaq Capital Market, listed companies are required to maintain a share price of at least $1.00 per share. If the share price declines below $1.00 for a period of 30 consecutive business days, then the listed company has a cure period of at least 180 days to regain compliance with the $1.00 per share minimum. On January 14, 2019, we received notice from the Nasdaq Capital Market (the "Notice") indicating that we are no longer in compliance with Nasdaq's continued listing requirements under Nasdaq Listing Rule 5450(a)(1) because the closing bid price of our common stock over a period of 30 consecutive business days was less than $1.00 per share. The last reported sale price on the Nasdaq Capital Market on April 22, 2019 was $0.73 per share. Pursuant to Nasdaq Listing Rule 5810(c)(3)(A), we have six months following receipt of the Notice to regain compliance with the minimum share price requirement. We can cure this deficiency if the closing bid price of its common stock is $1.00 per share or higher for at least ten consecutive business days during the six months following the date of the Notice. Alternatively, we could also take other actions to cure the deficiency, such as a reverse stock split (for which we have already received shareholder approval). We intend to cure the deficiency within the prescribed timeframe. During this time, our common stock will continue to be listed and trade on the Nasdaq Capital Market. Our business operations are not affected by the receipt of the Notice.
If the market price of our common stock remains below $5.00 per share, under stock exchange rules, our shareholders will not be able to use such shares as collateral for borrowing in margin accounts. This inability to continue to use our common stock as collateral may lead to sales of such shares creating downward pressure on and increased volatility in the market price of our common stock.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or publish negative reports about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common shares will depend, in part, upon the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not have any control over analysts as to whether they will cover us, and if they do, whether such coverage will continue. If analysts do not commence coverage of the Company, or if one or more of these analysts cease coverage of the Company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause our share price or trading volume to decline. In addition, if one or more of the analysts who cover us downgrade our shares or change their opinion of our shares, our share price may likely decline.
Our Amended and Restated Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws and Shareholders' Rights Plan contain anti-takeover provisions that may discourage, delay or prevent (1) our merger or acquisition and/or (2) the removal of incumbent directors and officers and (3) the ability of public shareholders to benefit from a change in control.
Our current amended and restated articles of incorporation and bylaws contain certain anti-takeover provisions. These provisions include blank check preferred stock, the prohibition of cumulative voting in the election of directors, a classified Board of Directors, advance written notice for shareholder nominations for directors, removal of directors only for cause, advance written notice of shareholder proposals for the removal of directors and limitations on action by shareholders. In addition, we adopted a shareholders' rights plan pursuant to which our Board of Directors may cause the substantial dilution of any person that attempts to acquire us without the approval of our Board of Directors. These anti-takeover provisions, including provisions of our shareholders' rights plan, either individually or in the aggregate, may discourage, delay or prevent (1) our merger or acquisition by means of a tender offer, a proxy contest or otherwise, that a shareholder may consider in its best interest, (2) the removal of incumbent directors and officers, and (3) the ability of public shareholders to benefit from a change in control. These anti-takeover provisions could substantially impede the ability of shareholders to benefit from a change in control and, as a result, may adversely affect the market price of our common stock and
shareholders' ability to realize any potential change of control premium. We intend to adopt a new shareholders' rights plan to replace the existing shareholders' plan as the rights under the existing shareholders' rights plan are set to expire in May 2019.
Future sales of our stock could cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
Sales of a substantial number of shares of our common stock in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may depress the market price for our common stock. These sales could also impair our ability to raise additional capital through the sale of our equity securities in the future.
We may issue additional shares of our stock in the future and our stockholders may elect to sell large numbers of shares held by them from time to time. Our amended and restated articles of incorporation authorize us to issue up to 200,000,000 shares of common stock and 20,000,000 shares of preferred stock.
On January 27, 2014 we entered into an agreement to sell 25,000 of our Series B Preferred Shares to a fund managed by TCP and 5,700 shares to Preferred Friends Investment Company Inc., an affiliate of the Company. The Series B Preferred Shares are convertible into common shares. Pursuant to a registration rights agreement between us and TCP, we filed a registration statement registering for resale all of the common shares issuable upon conversion of the Series B Preferred Shares, which has resulted in these shares becoming freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), if such shares are sold under the registration statement. On December 29, 2016 we sold 719,425 shares of our common stock to Friends for total proceeds of $1,000,000. Further, on December 23, 2016 we issued 900,000 shares of our common stock to two funds managed by TCP in order to purchase the M/V "RT Dagr". We entered into a registration obligation agreement requiring us to register under the Securities Act the 900,000 shares sold to the funds managed by TCP, and such shares will become freely tradable without restriction under the Securities Act if they are sold under the registration statement that we intend to file. In December 2016 and January 2017, we filed with the SEC two prospectus supplements to issue and sell, in an at-the-market ("ATM") offering, shares of our common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $10 million. From December 21, 2016 through January 26, 2017, we issued and sold 1,280,627 shares of our common stock through the ATM offering for net proceeds of approximately $2.7 million. In October 2018, we filed with the SEC a new prospectus supplement under which we may issue and sell, in an ATM offering, shares of our common stock having an aggregate offering price of up to $4.2 million; as of April 1, 2019, we have issued and sold 1,116,069 shares of our common stock in this ATM offering for net proceeds of approximately $2.0 million, leaving approximately $2.2 million of our common stock available for sale.
Sales of a substantial number of any of the shares of common stock mentioned above may cause the market price of our common stock to decline.
Issuance of preferred stock may adversely affect the voting power of our shareholders and have the effect of discouraging, delaying or preventing a merger or acquisition, which could adversely affect the market price of our common stock.
Our Board of Directors approved the issuance of 30,700 shares of our Series B Preferred Shares in 2014 (of which 19,686 are outstanding as of April 1, 2019) and may decide in the future to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to determine the rights, preferences, privileges and restrictions with respect to, among other things, dividends, conversion, voting, redemption, liquidation and the number of shares constituting any series subject to prior shareholders' approval. If our Board determines to issue preferred shares, such issuance may discourage, delay or prevent a merger or acquisition that shareholders may consider favorable. The issuance of preferred shares with voting and conversion rights may also adversely affect the voting power of the holders of common shares. This could substantially impede the ability of public shareholders to benefit from a change in control and, as a result, may adversely affect the market price of our common stock and shareholders' ability to realize any potential change of control premium.
Our Series B Preferred Shares are senior obligations of ours and rank prior to our common stock with respect to dividends, distributions and payments upon liquidation, which could have an adverse effect on the value of our common stock.
The rights of the holders of our Series B Preferred Shares rank senior to the obligations to holders of our common shares. Upon our liquidation, the holders of Series B Preferred Shares will be entitled to receive a liquidation preference of $1,000 per share, plus all accrued but unpaid dividends, prior and in preference to any distribution to the holders of any other class of our equity securities, including our common shares. The existence of the Series B Preferred Shares could have an adverse effect on the value of our common shares.
Because the Republic of the Marshall Islands, where we are incorporated, does not have a well-developed body of corporate law, shareholders may have fewer rights and protections than under typical state law in the United States, such as Delaware, and shareholders may have difficulty in protecting their interests with regard to actions taken by our Board of Directors.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our amended and restated articles of incorporation and bylaws, as amended, and by the Marshall Islands Business Corporations Act, or the BCA. The provisions of the BCA resemble provisions of the corporation laws of a number of states in the United States. However, there have been few judicial cases in the Republic of the Marshall Islands interpreting the BCA. The rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under the law of the Republic of the Marshall Islands are not as clearly established as the rights and fiduciary responsibilities of directors under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in certain U.S. jurisdictions. Stockholder rights may differ as well. For example, under Marshall Islands law, a copy of the notice of any meeting of the shareholders must be given not less than 15 days before the meeting, whereas in Delaware such notice must be given not less than 10 days before the meeting. Therefore, if immediate shareholder action is required, a meeting may not be able to be convened as quickly as it can be convened under Delaware law. Also, under Marshall Islands law, any action required to be taken by a meeting of shareholders may only be taken without a meeting if consent is in writing and is signed by all of the shareholders entitled to vote, whereas under Delaware law action may be taken by consent if approved by the number of shareholders that would be required to approve such action at a meeting. Therefore, under Marshall Islands law, it may be more difficult for a company to take certain actions without a meeting even if a majority of the shareholders approve of such action. While the BCA does specifically incorporate the non-statutory law, or judicial case law, of Delaware and other states with substantially similar legislative provisions, public shareholders may have more difficulty in protecting their interests in the face of actions by the management, directors or controlling shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a U.S. jurisdiction.
Information on the Company
A. History and Development of the Company
Euroseas Ltd. is a Marshall Islands company incorporated under the BCA on May 5, 2005. We are a provider of worldwide ocean-going transportation services. On May 30, 2018, the Company spun-off its drybulk fleet (excluding M/V Monica P, a handymax drybulk carrier, which was agreed to be sold at the time) into EuroDry Ltd., a separate publicly listed company also listed on Nasdaq Capital Market. Shareholders of the Company received one EuroDry Ltd. share for every five shares of the Company they held. As a result of the spin-off and the subsequent sale of M/V Monica P, the Company has become a pure containership company and the only publicly listed company concentrating on the feeder containership sector. Our containerships transport dry and refrigerated containerized cargoes, mainly including manufactured products and perishables. As of April 1, 2019, our fleet consisted of eleven containerships. The total cargo carrying capacity of the eleven containerships is 388,632 dwt or 25,483 teu. Two of our vessels were acquired before January 1, 2004 and were controlled by the Pittas family interests. On June 29, 2005, the shareholders of the two vessels (and of five additional vessels that have since been sold) transferred their ownership in each of the vessels to Euroseas in exchange for shares in Friends, a 100% owner of Euroseas at that time. Since June 2005, the Company has purchased twenty-eight vessels and ordered four newbuildings. Euroseas took delivery of three of the newbuildings in February 2016, January 2017 and May 2018, respectively, while one newbuilding vessel contract was cancelled. The Company sold fifteen vessels and spun-off six of its vessels into EuroDry in 2018.
Our common shares traded under the symbol ESEA on the Nasdaq Global Market beginning January 31, 2007 and on the Nasdaq Global Select Market beginning January 1, 2008, and since June 26, 2015 have traded on the Nasdaq Capital Market.
Our executive offices are located at 4 Messogiou & Evropis Street, 151 24, Maroussi, Greece. Our telephone number is +30-211-1804005.
B. Business Overview
Our fleet consists of: containerships that transport container boxes providing scheduled service between ports. Please see information in the section "Our Fleet", below. During 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 we had a fleet utilization of 97.6%, 93.0%, 93.9%, 96.9% and 92.7%, respectively, our vessels achieved daily time charter equivalent rates of $7,319, $7,855, $7,120, $7,309 and $9,179, respectively, and we generated voyage charter revenue and time charter revenue totaling $37.32 million, $35.51 million, $21.46 million, $24.84 million and $36.27 million, respectively.
Our business strategy is focused on providing consistent shareholder returns by carefully selecting the timing and the structure of our investments in containership vessels and by reliably, safely and competitively operating the vessels we own, through our affiliate, Eurobulk. Representing a continuous shipowning and management history that dates back to the 19th century, we believe that one of our advantages in the industry is our ability to select and safely operate containership vessels of any age.
As of April 1, 2019, the profile and deployment of our fleet is the following:
TCE Rate ($/day)
EVRIDIKI G (ex-MAERSK NOUMEA)
TC until Sep-19
TC until Feb-20
TC until Mar-20
TC until Apr-19
TC until Jul-19
TC until Jul-19
TC until Aug-19
TC until Sep-19
TC until Feb-20
TC until Sep-19
TC until Apr-19
Total Container Carriers
(*) TC denotes time charter. All dates listed are the earliest redelivery dates under each TC.
We plan to expand our fleet by investing in vessels in the containership market under favorable market conditions. We also intend to take advantage of the cyclical nature of the market by buying and selling ships when we believe favorable opportunities exist. We employ our vessels in the spot and time charter market and through pool arrangements. As of April 1, 2019, all of our vessels are employed under time charter contracts.
As of April 1, 2019, approximately 55% of our ship capacity days in the remainder of 2019 and approximately 4% of our ship capacity days in 2020 are under contract.
In "Critical Accounting Policies – Impairment of vessels" below, we discuss our policy for impairing the carrying values of our vessels. During the past few years, the market values of vessels have experienced extraordinarily high volatility, and substantial declines in many vessel classes. As a result, the charter-free market value, or basic market value, of certain of our vessels may have declined below those vessels' carrying value. We may not impair those vessels' carrying value under our accounting impairment policy, due to our belief that future undiscounted cash flows expected to be earned by such vessels over their operating lives would exceed such vessels' carrying amounts.
The table set forth below indicates (i) the carrying value of each of our vessels as of December 31, 2017 and 2018, respectively, (ii) which of our vessels we believe has a basic market value below its carrying value, and (iii) the aggregate difference between carrying and market value represented by such vessels. This aggregate difference represents the approximate analysis of the amount by which we believe we would have to reduce our net income/ (loss) if we sold all of such vessels in the current environment, using industry-standard valuation methodologies, in cash, in arm's-length transactions. For purposes of this calculation, we have assumed that the vessels would be sold at a price that reflects our estimate of their current basic market values. However, we are not holding our vessels for sale, except as otherwise noted in this report.
Our estimates of basic market value assume that our vessels are all in good and seaworthy condition without need for repair and if inspected would be certified in class without any notations. Our estimates are based on information available from various industry sources, including:
reports by industry analysts and data providers that focus on our industry and related dynamics affecting vessel values;
news and industry reports of similar vessel sales;
news and industry reports of sales of vessels that are not similar to our vessels where we have made certain adjustments in an attempt to derive information that can be used as part of our estimates;
approximate market values for our vessels or similar vessels that we have received from shipbrokers, whether solicited or unsolicited, or that shipbrokers have generally disseminated;
offers that we may have received from potential purchasers of our vessels; and
vessel sale prices and values of which we are aware through both formal and informal communications with shipowners, shipbrokers, industry analysts and various other shipping industry participants and observers.
As we obtain information from various industry and other sources, our estimates of basic market value are inherently uncertain. In addition, vessel values are highly volatile; as such, our estimates may not be indicative of the current or future basic market value of our vessels or prices that we could achieve if we were to sell them.
Carrying Value as of December 31, 2017
Carrying Value as of December 31, 2018
Total Container Carriers
(1) Indicates a container vessel for which we believe, as of December 31, 2017, the basic charter-free market value is lower than the vessel's carrying value as of December 31, 2017. We believe that the carrying value of this vessel, assessed separately, of $9.71 million as of December 31, 2017 exceeds its basic charter-free market value of approximately $7.20 million by approximately $2.51 million. As further discussed in "Critical Accounting Policies – Impairment of vessels" below, we believe that the carrying values of our vessels as of December 31, 2017 were recoverable.
(2) Indicates a container vessel for which we believe, as of December 31, 2018, the basic charter-free market value is lower than the vessel's carrying value as of December 31, 2018. We believe that the carrying value of this vessel, assessed separately, of $8.88 million as of December 31, 2018 exceeds its basic charter-free market value of approximately $7.70 million by approximately $1.18 million. As further discussed in "Critical Accounting Policies – Impairment of vessels" below, we believe that the carrying values of our vessels as of December 31, 2018 were recoverable.
We note that all of our container vessels are currently employed under time charter contracts of durations from less than one to eleven months until the earliest redelivery charter period. If we sell those vessels with the charters attached, the sale price may be affected by the relationship of the charter rate to the prevailing market rate for a comparable charter with the same terms.
We refer you to the risk factor entitled "The market value of our vessels can fluctuate significantly, which may adversely affect our financial condition, cause us to breach financial covenants, result in the incurrence of a loss upon disposal of a vessel or increase the cost of acquiring additional vessels" and the discussion in Item 3.D under "Industry Risk Factors".
Management of Our Fleet
The operations of our vessels are managed by Eurobulk Ltd., or Eurobulk, an affiliated company. Eurobulk manages our fleet under a Master Management Agreement with us and separate management agreements with each ship-owning company. Eurobulk was founded in 1994 by members of the Pittas family and is a reputable ship management company with strong industry relationships and experience in managing vessels. Under our Master Management Agreement, Eurobulk is responsible for providing us with: (i) executive services associated with us being a public company; (ii) other services to our subsidiaries and commercial management services, which include obtaining employment for our vessels and managing our relationships with charterers; and (iii) technical management services, which include managing day-to-day vessel operations, performing general vessel maintenance, ensuring regulatory and classification society compliance, supervising the maintenance and general efficiency of vessels, arranging our hire of qualified officers and crew, arranging and supervising drydocking and repairs, arranging insurance for vessels, purchasing stores, supplies, spares and new equipment for vessels, appointing supervisors and technical consultants and providing technical support and shoreside personnel who carry out the management functions described above and certain accounting services.
Our Master Management Agreement with Eurobulk compensates Eurobulk with an annual fee and a daily management fee per vessel managed. Our Master Management Agreement, which we initially entered into in 2008, was amended and restated as of January 1, 2018 and its term extended until January 1, 2023. It provided for a roughly 5% discount of the daily vessel management fee for any period during which the number of the Euroseas-owned vessels (including vessels in which Euroseas is a part owner) managed by
Eurobulk is greater than 20 ("volume discount"), which was permanently incorporated into the daily management fee effective January 1, 2018 (see below). The Master Management Agreement can be terminated by Eurobulk only for cause or under other limited circumstances, such as sale of the Company or Eurobulk or the bankruptcy of either party. This Master Management Agreement will automatically be extended after the initial period for an additional five-year period unless terminated on or before the 90th day preceding the initial termination date. Pursuant to the Master Management Agreement, vessels we might acquire in the future will enter into a separate five-year management agreement with Eurobulk.
During 2016, in exchange for providing us with the services described above, we paid Eurobulk an annual fee of $2,000,000 and a management fee of 685 Euros per vessel per day for any operating vessel and 50% (i.e. 342.5 Euros) of that amount for any vessel laid-up including the 5% volume discount. The management fee is adjusted annually for Greek inflation every January 1st. There was no adjustment for inflation from January 1, 2016, to date and, hence, we continue to pay Eurobulk an annual fee of $2,000,000 and a fee of 685 Euros per vessel per day in operation and 342.5 Euros per vessel per day in lay-up. In the case of newbuilding vessel contracts, the same management fee of 685 Euros becomes effective when construction of the vessels actually begins. Under the amended and restated Master Management Agreement, as of January 1, 2018, the volume discount has been permanently incorporated into the daily management fee which remained unchanged at 685 Euros in 2018, and will be adjusted annually for inflation in the Eurozone. On May 30, 2018, the Company signed an addendum with the Manager according to which daily management fees were kept at 685 Euros per day per vessel, while as of May 30, 2018, the fixed cost was adjusted to $1,250,000. As a result, for the year 2018, the fixed cost was calculated on $2,000,000 pro-rated for the period of January 1, 2018 until May 30, 2018 and on $1,250,000 for the period of May 30, 2018 until December 31, 2018.
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe that we possess the following competitive strengths:
Experienced Management Team. Our management team has significant experience in all aspects of commercial, technical, operational and financial areas of our business. Aristides J. Pittas, our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, holds a dual graduate degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and Ocean Systems Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worked in various technical, shipyard and ship management capacities and since 1991 has focused on the ownership and operation of vessels carrying dry cargoes. Dr. Anastasios Aslidis, our Chief Financial Officer, holds a Ph.D. in Ocean Systems Management also from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has over 20 years of experience, primarily as a partner at a Boston based international consulting firm focusing on investment and risk management in the maritime industry.
Cost Efficient Vessel Operations. We believe that because of the efficiencies afforded to us through Eurobulk, the strength of our management team and the quality of our fleet, we are, and will continue to be, a reliable, low cost vessel operator, without compromising our high standards of performance, reliability and safety. Despite the average age of our fleet being approximately 20.5 years on April 1, 2019, our total vessel operating expenses, including management fees and general and administrative expenses but excluding drydocking expenses were $6,225 per day for the year ended December 31, 2018. We consider this amount to be among the lowest of the publicly listed containerships shipping companies in the United States. Our technical and operating expertise allows us to efficiently manage and transport a wide range of cargoes with a flexible trade route profile, which helps reduce ballast time between voyages and minimize off-hire days. Our professional, well-trained masters, officers and onboard crews further help us to control costs and ensure consistent vessel operating performance. We actively manage our fleet and strive to maximize utilization and minimize maintenance expenditures for operational and commercial utilization. For the year ended December 31, 2018, our operational fleet utilization was 96.0%, down from 99.5% in 2017, while our commercial utilization rate decreased from 97.5% in 2017 to 96.7% in 2018. Our total fleet utilization rate in 2018 was 96.0%.
Strong Relationships with Customers and Financial Institutions. We believe ourselves, Eurobulk and the Pittas family to have developed strong industry relationships and to have gained acceptance with charterers, lenders and insurers because of long-standing reputation for safe and reliable service and financial responsibility through various shipping cycles. Through Eurobulk, we offer reliable service and cargo carrying flexibility that enables us to attract customers and obtain repeat business. We also believe that the established customer base and reputation of ourselves, Eurobulk and the Pittas family help us to secure favorable employment for our vessels with well-known charterers.
Our Business Strategy
Our business strategy is focused on providing consistent shareholder returns by carefully timing and structuring acquisitions of containerships and by reliably, safely and competitively operating our vessels through Eurobulk. We continuously evaluate purchase and sale opportunities, as well as long term employment opportunities for our vessels. Key elements of the above strategy are:
Renew and Expand our Fleet. We expect to grow our fleet in a disciplined manner through timely and selective acquisitions of quality vessels. We perform in-depth technical review and financial analysis of each potential acquisition and only purchase vessels as market opportunities present themselves. We focus on purchasing well-maintained secondhand vessels, newbuildings or newbuilding resales based on the evaluation of each investment option at the time it is made. Within 2016 we acquired two secondhand containerships. In January 2017, we sold one containership. In June, September, October and December 2017, we took delivery of five secondhand containerships, and in December 2017, we sold one containership.
Maintain Balanced Employment. We intend to employ our fleet on either longer term time charters, i.e. charters with duration of more than a year, or shorter-term time/spot charters. We seek longer term time charter employment to obtain adequate cash flow to cover as much as possible of our fleet's recurring costs, consisting of vessel operating expenses, management fees, general and administrative expenses, interest expense and drydocking costs for the upcoming 12-month period. When we expect charter rates to improve we try to increase the percentage of our fleet employed in shorter term contracts (allowing us to take advantage of higher rates in the future), while when we expect the market to weaken we try to increase the percentage of our fleet employed in longer term contracts (allowing us to take advantage of higher current rates). We believe this balanced employment strategy will provide us with more predictable operating cash flows and sufficient downside protection, while allowing us to participate in the potential upside of the spot market during periods of rising charter rates. As of April 1, 2019, on the basis of our existing time charters, approximately 55% of our vessel capacity in the remainder of 2019 and approximately 4% in 2020 are under time charter contracts, which will ensure employment of a portion of our fleet, partly protect us from market fluctuations and increase our ability to make principal and interest payments on our debt and pay dividends to our shareholders.
Optimize Use of Financial Leverage. We intend to use bank debt to partly fund our vessel acquisitions and increase financial returns for our shareholders. We actively assess the level of debt we incur in light of our ability to repay that debt based on the level of cash flow generated from our balanced chartering strategy and efficient operating cost structure. Our debt repayment schedule as of December 31, 2018 calls for a reduction of more than 13.9% of our debt by the end of 2019 and an additional reduction of about 16.1% by the end of 2020 for a total of 30% reduction over the next two years, excluding any new debt that we assumed or may assume. As our debt is being repaid we expect that our ability to raise or borrow additional funds more cheaply in order to grow our fleet and generate better returns for our shareholders will increase.
Our major charterer customers during the last three years include CMA-CGM ("CMA"), Golden Sea Shipping ("GSS") and MSC amongst others. We are a relationship driven company, and our top five customers in 2018 include three of our top five customers from 2017 and three from 2016. Our top five customers accounted for approximately 97% of our revenues in 2018, 91% of our revenues in 2017 and 83% of our revenues in 2016. In 2018, CMA, GSS, and MSC accounted for 51%, 30% and11% of our revenues, respectively. In 2017, CMA, GSS, and MSC accounted for 34%, 31% and 17% of our revenues. Our dependence on our key charterer customers is moderate as in the event of a charterer default, our vessels can generally be re-chartered at the market rate, in the spot or charter market, although it is likely that such rate will be lower than the charter rate agreed with the charterer.
The Containership Industry
Containership shipping refers to the transport of containerized trade which encompasses mainly the carriage of finished goods, but an increasing number of other cargoes in container boxes. Containerized trade has been the fastest growing sector of seaborne trade, although in the last three years the rate of growth has slowed. Containerships are categorized by their size measured in terms of twelve-foot equivalent unit ("teu") capacity and whether they have their own gearing (cranes). The different categories of containerships are as follows: (i) Post-Panamax vessels are generally vessels with carrying capacity of more than 4,000 teu; (ii) Panamax vessels are vessels with carrying capacity from 3,000 to 4,000 teu, and, in some designs, even up to 5,000 teu; these vessels are called such because the measurements of their beam and draft are the maximum allowable through the original Panama Canal; and (iii) Feeder containerships are vessels with carrying capacity from 500 to 3,000 teu and are usually equipped with cargo loading and unloading gear. Containerships are primarily employed in time charter contracts with liner companies, which in turn employ them as part of the scheduled liner operations. Feeder containership are put in liner schedules feeding containers to and from central regional ports (hubs) where larger containerships provide cross ocean or longer haul service. The length of the time charter contract can range from several months to years.
We operate in markets that are highly competitive and based primarily on supply and demand. We compete for charters on the basis of price, vessel location, size, age and vessel condition, as well as on reputation. Eurobulk arranges our charters (whether spot charters, time charters or shipping pools) through Eurochart S.A. ("Eurochart"), an affiliated brokering company which negotiates the terms of the charters based on market conditions. We compete primarily with other shipowners of carriers in the Handysize, Handymax and Panamax containership sectors. Ownership of containerships is highly fragmented and is divided among state controlled and independent shipowners. Some of our publicly listed competitors include Danaos Corporation (NYSE: DAC), Costamare Inc. (NASDAQ: CMRE) and Diana Containerships Inc. (NYSE: DCIX).
The containership shipping industry's seasonal trends are driven by the import patterns of manufactured goods and refrigerated cargoes by the major importers, such as the United States, Europe and Japan. The volume of containerized trade is usually higher in the fall in preparation for the holiday season. During this period, container shipping rates are higher and, as a result, so are charter rates.
Environmental and Other Regulations in the Shipping Industry
Government regulation and laws significantly affect the ownership and operation of our fleet. We are subject to international conventions and treaties, national, state and local laws and regulations in force in the countries in which our vessels may operate or are registered relating to safety and health and environmental protection including the storage, handling, emission, transportation and discharge of hazardous and non-hazardous materials, and the remediation of contamination and liability for damage to natural resources. Compliance with such laws, regulations and other requirements entails significant expense, including vessel modifications and implementation of certain operating procedures.
A variety of government and private entities subject our vessels to both scheduled and unscheduled inspections. These entities include the local port authorities (applicable national authorities such as the United States Coast Guard ("USCG"), harbor master or equivalent), classification societies, flag state administrations (countries of registry) and charterers, particularly terminal operators. Certain of these entities require us to obtain permits, licenses, certificates and other authorizations for the operation of our vessels. Failure to maintain necessary permits or approvals could require us to incur substantial costs or result in the temporary suspension of the operation of one or more of our vessels.
Increasing environmental concerns have created a demand for vessels that conform to stricter environmental standards. We are required to maintain operating standards for all of our vessels that emphasize operational safety, quality maintenance, continuous training of our officers and crews and compliance with United States and international regulations. We believe that the operation of our vessels is in substantial compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations and that our vessels have all material permits, licenses, certificates or other authorizations necessary for the conduct of our operations. However, because such laws and regulations frequently change and may impose increasingly stricter requirements, we cannot predict the ultimate cost of complying with these requirements, or the impact of these requirements on the resale value or useful lives of our vessels. In addition, a future serious marine incident that causes significant adverse environmental impact could result in additional legislation or regulation that could negatively affect our profitability.
While we do not carry oil as cargo, we do carry fuel oil (bunkers) in our containerships. We currently maintain, for each of our vessels, pollution liability insurance coverage of $1.0 billion per incident. If the damages from a catastrophic spill exceeded our insurance coverage, that would have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and operating cash flows.
International Maritime Organization ("IMO")
The IMO, the United Nations agency for maritime safety and the prevention of pollution by vessels, has adopted the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973, as modified by MARPOL, and the International Convention on Load Lines of 1966 (the "LL Convention"). MARPOL establishes environmental standards relating to oil leakage or spilling, garbage management, sewage, air emissions, handling and disposal of noxious liquids and the handling of harmful substances in packaged forms. MARPOL is applicable to container carriers, tanker and LNG carriers, among other vessels, and is broken into six Annexes, each of which regulates a different source of pollution. Annex I relates to oil leakage or spilling; Annexes II and III relate to harmful substances carried in bulk in liquid or in packaged form, respectively; Annexes IV and V relate to sewage and garbage management, respectively; and Annex VI, lastly, relates to air emissions. Annex VI was separately adopted by the IMO in September of 1997.
In September of 1997, the IMO adopted Annex VI to MARPOL to address air pollution from vessels. Effective May 2005, Annex VI sets limits on sulfur oxide and nitrogen oxide emissions from all commercial vessel exhausts and prohibits "deliberate emissions" of ozone depleting substances (such as halons and chlorofluorocarbons), emissions of volatile compounds from cargo tanks, and the shipboard incineration of specific substances. Annex VI also includes a global cap on the sulfur content of fuel oil and allows for special areas to be established with more stringent controls on sulfur emissions, as explained below. Emissions of "volatile organic compounds" from certain vessels, and the shipboard incineration (from incinerators installed after January 1, 2000) of certain substances (such as polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs) are also prohibited. We believe that all our vessels are currently compliant in all material respects with these regulations.
The "MEPC" adopted amendments to Annex VI regarding emissions of sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, particulate matter and ozone depleting substances, which entered into force on July 1, 2010. The amended Annex VI seeks to further reduce air pollution by, among other things, implementing a progressive reduction of the amount of sulfur contained in any fuel oil used on board ships. On October 27, 2016, at its 70th session, the MEPC agreed to implement a global 0.5% m/m sulfur oxide emissions limit (reduced from 3.50%) starting from January 1, 2020. This limitation can be met by using low-sulfur compliant fuel oil, alternative fuels, or certain exhaust gas cleaning systems. Once the cap becomes effective, ships will be required to obtain bunker delivery notes and International Air Pollution Prevention ("IAPP") Certificates from their flag states that specify sulfur content.
Additionally, at MEPC 73, amendments to Annex VI to prohibit the carriage of bunkers above 0.5% sulfur on ships were adopted and will take effect on March 1, 2020. These regulations subject ocean-going vessels to stringent emissions controls, and may cause us to incur substantial costs. Sulfur content standards are even stricter within certain "Emission Control Areas," or ("ECAs"). As of January 1, 2015, ships operating within an ECA were not permitted to use fuel with sulfur content in excess of 0.1%. Amended Annex VI establishes procedures for designating new ECAs. Currently, the IMO has designated four ECAs, including specified portions of the Baltic Sea area, North Sea area, North American area and United States Caribbean area. Ocean-going vessels in these areas will be subject to stringent emission controls and may cause us to incur additional costs. Other areas in China are subject to local regulations that impose stricter emission controls. If other ECAs are approved by the IMO or other new or more stringent requirements relating to emissions from marine diesel engines or port operations by vessels are adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ("EPA"), or the states where we operate, compliance with these regulations could entail significant capital expenditures or otherwise increase the costs of our operations.
Amended Annex VI also establishes new tiers of stringent nitrogen oxide emissions standards for marine diesel engines, depending on their date of installation. At the MEPC meeting held from March to April 2014, amendments to Annex VI were adopted which address the date on which Tier III Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) standards in ECAs will go into effect. Under the amendments, Tier III NOx standards apply to ships that operate in the North American and U.S. Caribbean Sea ECAs designed for the control of NOx produced by vessels with a marine diesel engine installed and constructed on or after January 1, 2016. Tier III requirements could apply to areas that will be designated for Tier III NOx in the future. At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, the MEPC approved the North Sea and Baltic Sea as ECAs for nitrogen oxide for ships built after January 1, 2021. The EPA promulgated equivalent (and in some senses stricter) emissions standards in late 2009. As a result of these designations or similar future designations, we may be required to incur additional operating or other costs.
As determined at the MEPC 70, the new Regulation 22A of MARPOL Annex VI became effective as of March 1, 2018 and requires ships above 5,000 gross tonnage to collect and report annual data on fuel oil consumption to an IMO database, with the first year of data collection commencing on January 1, 2019. The IMO intends to use such data as the first step in its roadmap (through 2023) for developing its strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships, as discussed further below.
As of January 1, 2013, MARPOL made mandatory certain measures relating to energy efficiency for ships. All ships are now required to develop and implement Ship Energy Efficiency Management Plans ("SEEMPS"), and new ships must be designed in compliance with minimum energy efficiency levels per capacity mile as defined by the Energy Efficiency Design Index ("EEDI"). Under these measures, by 2025, all new ships built will be 30% more energy efficient than those built in 2014.
We may incur costs to comply with these revised standards. Additional or new conventions, laws and regulations may be adopted that could require the installation of expensive emission control systems and could adversely affect our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition.
Safety Management System Requirements
The SOLAS Convention was amended to address the safe manning of vessels and emergency training drills. The Convention of Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (the "LLMC") sets limitations of liability for a loss of life or personal injury claim or a property claim against ship owners. We believe that our vessels are in substantial compliance with SOLAS and LLMC standards.
Under Chapter IX of the SOLAS Convention, or the "ISM Code", our operations are also subject to environmental standards and requirements. The ISM Code requires the party with operational control of a vessel to develop an extensive safety management system that includes, among other things, the adoption of a safety and environmental protection policy setting forth instructions and procedures for operating its vessels safely and describing procedures for responding to emergencies. We rely upon the safety management system that we and our technical management team have developed for compliance with the ISM Code. The failure of a vessel owner or bareboat charterer to comply with the ISM Code may subject such party to increased liability, may decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and may result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports.
The ISM Code requires that vessel operators obtain a safety management certificate for each vessel they operate. This certificate evidences compliance by a vessel's management with the ISM Code requirements for a safety management system. No vessel can obtain a safety management certificate unless its manager has been awarded a document of compliance, issued by each flag state, under the ISM Code. We have obtained applicable documents of compliance for our offices and safety management certificates for all of our vessels for which the certificates are required by the IMO. The document of compliance and safety management certificate are renewed as required.
Although all our vessels are currently ISM Code-certified, such certification may not be maintained by all our vessels at all times. Non-compliance with the ISM Code may subject such party to increased liability, invalidate existing insurance or decrease available insurance coverage for the affected vessels and result in a denial of access to, or detention in, certain ports. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard and E.U. authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and E.U. ports.
Regulation II-1/3-10 of the SOLAS Convention governs ship construction and stipulates that ships over 150 meters in length must have adequate strength, integrity and stability to minimize risk of loss or pollution. Goal-based standards amendments in SOLAS regulation II-1/3-10 entered into force in 2012, with July 1, 2016 set for application to new oil tankers and bulk carriers. The SOLAS Convention regulation II-1/3-10 on goal-based ship construction standards for bulk carriers and oil tankers, which entered into force on January 1, 2012, requires that all oil tankers and bulk carriers of 150 meters in length and above, for which the building contract is placed on or after July 1, 2016, satisfy applicable structural requirements conforming to the functional requirements of the International Goal-based Ship Construction Standards for Bulk Carriers and Oil Tankers (GBS Standards).
Amendments to the SOLAS Convention Chapter VII apply to vessels transporting dangerous goods and require those vessels be in compliance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code ("IMDG Code"). Effective January 1, 2018, the IMDG Code includes (1) updates to the provisions for radioactive material, reflecting the latest provisions from the International Atomic Energy Agency, (2) new marking, packing and classification requirements for dangerous goods, and (3) new mandatory training requirements.
The IMO has also adopted the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers ("STCW"). As of February 2017, all seafarers are required to meet the STCW standards and be in possession of a valid STCW certificate. Flag states that have ratified SOLAS and STCW generally employ the classification societies, which have incorporated SOLAS and STCW requirements into their class rules, to undertake surveys to confirm compliance.
Furthermore, recent action by the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee and United States agencies indicate that cybersecurity regulations for the maritime industry are likely to be further developed in the near future in an attempt to combat cybersecurity threats. For example, cyber-risk management systems must be incorporated by ship-owners and managers by 2021. This might cause companies to create additional procedures for monitoring cybersecurity, which could require additional expenses and/or capital expenditures. The impact of such regulations is hard to predict at this time.
Pollution Control and Liability Requirements
The IMO has negotiated international conventions that impose liability for pollution in international waters and the territorial waters of the signatories to such conventions. For example, the IMO adopted an International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships' Ballast Water and Sediments (the "BWM Convention") in 2004. The BWM Convention entered into force on September 9, 2017. The BWM Convention requires ships to manage their ballast water to remove, render harmless, or avoid the uptake or discharge of new or invasive aquatic organisms and pathogens within ballast water and sediments. The BWM Convention's implementing regulations call for a phased introduction of mandatory ballast water exchange requirements, to be replaced in time with
mandatory concentration limits, and require all ships to carry a ballast water record book and an international ballast water management certificate.
On December 4, 2013, the IMO Assembly passed a resolution revising the application dates of BWM Convention so that the dates are triggered by the entry into force date and not the dates originally in the BWM Convention. This, in effect, makes all vessels delivered before the entry into force date "existing vessels" and allows for the installation of ballast water management systems on such vessels at the first International Oil Pollution Prevention (IOPP) renewal survey following entry into force of the convention. The MEPC adopted updated guidelines for approval of ballast water management systems (G8) at MEPC 70. At MEPC 71, the schedule regarding the BWM Convention's implementation dates was also discussed and amendments were introduced to extend the date existing vessels are subject to certain ballast water standards. Ships over 400 gross tons generally must comply with a "D-1 standard," requiring the exchange of ballast water only in open seas and away from coastal waters. The "D-2 standard" specifies the maximum amount of viable organisms allowed to be discharged, and compliance dates vary depending on the IOPP renewal dates. Depending on the date of the IOPP renewal survey, existing vessels must comply with the D-2 standard on or after September 8, 2019. For most ships, compliance with the D-2 standard will involve installing on-board systems to treat ballast water and eliminate unwanted organisms. Ballast Water Management systems, which include systems that make use of chemical, biocides, organisms or biological mechanisms, or which alter the chemical or physical characteristics of the Ballast Water, must be approved in accordance with IMO Guidelines (Regulation D-3). Costs of compliance may be substantial.
Once mid-ocean ballast water treatment requirements become mandatory under the BWM Convention, the cost of compliance could increase for ocean carriers and may have a material effect on our operations. However, many countries already regulate the discharge of ballast water carried by vessels from country to country to prevent the introduction of invasive and harmful species via such discharges. The U.S., for example, requires vessels entering its waters from another country to conduct mid-ocean ballast exchange, or undertake some alternate measure, and to comply with certain reporting requirements.
The IMO also adopted the International Convention on Civil Liability for Bunker Oil Pollution Damage (the "Bunker Convention") to impose strict liability on ship owners (including the registered owner, bareboat charterer, manager or operator) for pollution damage in jurisdictional waters of ratifying states caused by discharges of bunker fuel. The Bunker Convention requires registered owners of ships over 1,000 gross tons to maintain insurance for pollution damage in an amount equal to the limits of liability under the applicable national or international limitation regime (but not exceeding the amount calculated in accordance with the LLMC). With respect to non-ratifying states, liability for spills or releases of oil carried as fuel in ship's bunkers typically is determined by the national or other domestic laws in the jurisdiction where the events or damages occur.
Ships are required to maintain a certificate attesting that they maintain adequate insurance to cover an incident. In jurisdictions, such as the United States, where the Bunker Convention has not been adopted, various legislative schemes or common law govern, and liability is imposed either on the basis of fault or on a strict liability basis.
In 2001, the IMO adopted the International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti‑fouling Systems on Ships, or the "Anti‑fouling Convention." The Anti‑fouling Convention, which entered into force on September 17, 2008, prohibits the use of organotin compound coatings to prevent the attachment of mollusks and other sea life to the hulls of vessels. Vessels of over 400 gross tons engaged in international voyages will also be required to undergo an initial survey before the vessel is put into service or before an International Anti‑fouling System Certificate is issued for the first time; and subsequent surveys when the anti‑fouling systems are altered or replaced. We have obtained Anti‑fouling System Certificates for all of our vessels that are subject to the Anti‑fouling Convention.
Noncompliance with the ISM Code or other IMO regulations may subject the ship owner or bareboat charterer to increased liability, may lead to decreases in available insurance coverage for affected vessels and may result in the denial of access to, or detention in, some ports. The USCG and European Union authorities have indicated that vessels not in compliance with the ISM Code by applicable deadlines will be prohibited from trading in U.S. and European Union ports, respectively. As of the date of this report, each of our vessels is ISM Code certified. However, there can be no assurance that such certificates will be maintained in the future. The IMO continues to review and introduce new regulations. It is impossible to predict what additional regulations, if any, may be passed by the IMO and what effect, if any, such regulations might have on our operations.
United States Regulations
The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act
The U.S. Oil Pollution Act of 1990 ("OPA") established an extensive regulatory and liability regime for the protection and cleanup of the environment from oil spills. OPA affects all "owners and operators" whose vessels trade or operate within the U.S., its territories and possessions or whose vessels operate in U.S. waters, which includes the U.S.'s territorial sea and its 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone around the U.S. The U.S. has also enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), which applies to the discharge of hazardous substances other than oil, except in limited circumstances, whether on land or at sea. OPA and CERCLA both define "owner and operator" in the case of a vessel as any person owning, operating or chartering by demise, the vessel. Both OPA and CERCLA impact our operations.
Under OPA, vessel owners and operators are "responsible parties" and are jointly, severally and strictly liable (unless the spill results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war) for all containment and clean-up costs and other damages arising from discharges or threatened discharges of oil from their vessels, including bunkers (fuel). OPA defines these other damages broadly to include:
injury to, destruction or loss of, or loss of use of, natural resources and related assessment costs;
injury to, or economic losses resulting from, the destruction of real and personal property;
loss of subsistence use of natural resources that are injured, destroyed or lost;
net loss of taxes, royalties, rents, fees or net profit revenues resulting from injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property, or natural resources;
lost profits or impairment of earning capacity due to injury, destruction or loss of real or personal property or natural resources; and
net cost of increased or additional public services necessitated by removal activities following a discharge of oil, such as protection from fire, safety or health hazards, and loss of subsistence use of natural resources.
OPA contains statutory caps on liability and damages; such caps do not apply to direct cleanup costs. Effective December 21, 2015, the USCG adjusted the limits of OPA liability for non-tank vessels, edible oil tank vessels, and any oil spill response vessels, to the greater of $1,100 per gross ton or $939,800 (subject to periodic adjustment for inflation). These limits of liability do not apply if an incident was proximately caused by the violation of an applicable U.S. federal safety, construction or operating regulation by a responsible party (or its agent, employee or a person acting pursuant to a contractual relationship), or a responsible party's gross negligence or willful misconduct. The limitation on liability similarly does not apply if the responsible party fails or refuses to (i) report the incident where the responsible party knows or has reason to know of the incident; (ii) reasonably cooperate and assist as requested in connection with oil removal activities; or (iii) without sufficient cause, comply with an order issued under the Federal Water Pollution Act (Section 311 (c), (e)) or the Intervention on the High Seas Act.
CERCLA contains a similar liability regime whereby owners and operators of vessels are liable for cleanup, removal and remedial costs, as well as damages for injury to, or destruction or loss of, natural resources, including the reasonable costs associated with assessing the same, and health assessments or health effects studies. There is no liability if the discharge of a hazardous substance results solely from the act or omission of a third party, an act of God or an act of war. Liability under CERCLA is limited to the greater of $300 per gross ton or $5.0 million for vessels carrying a hazardous substance as cargo and the greater of $300 per gross ton or $500,000 for any other vessel. These limits do not apply (rendering the responsible person liable for the total cost of response and damages) if the release or threat of release of a hazardous substance resulted from willful misconduct or negligence, or the primary cause of the release was a violation of applicable safety, construction or operating standards or regulations. The limitation on liability also does not apply if the responsible person fails or refused to provide all reasonable cooperation and assistance as requested in connection with response activities where the vessel is subject to OPA.
OPA and CERCLA each preserve the right to recover damages under existing law, including maritime tort law. OPA and CERCLA both require owners and operators of vessels to establish and maintain with the USCG evidence of financial responsibility sufficient to meet the maximum amount of liability to which the particular responsible person may be subject. Vessel owners and operators may satisfy their financial responsibility obligations by providing a proof of insurance, a surety bond, qualification as a self-insurer or a guarantee. We comply and plan to comply with the USCG's financial responsibility regulations by providing applicable certificates of financial responsibility.
The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico resulted in additional regulatory initiatives or statutes, including higher liability caps under OPA, new regulations regarding offshore oil and gas drilling, and a pilot inspection program for offshore facilities. However, several of these initiatives and regulations have been or may be revised. For example, the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement's ("BSEE") revised Production Safety Systems Rule ("PSSR"), effective December 27, 2018, modified and relaxed certain environmental and safety protections under the 2016 PSSR. Additionally, the BSEE released proposed changes to the Well Control Rule, which could roll back certain reforms regarding the safety of drilling operations. In January 2018, the U.S. President proposed leasing new sections of U.S. waters to oil and gas companies for offshore drilling, expanding the U.S. waters that are available for such activity over the next five years. The effects of these proposals are currently unknown. Compliance with any new requirements of OPA and future legislation or regulations applicable to the operation of our vessels could impact the cost of our operations and adversely affect our business.
OPA specifically permits individual states to impose their own liability regimes with regard to oil pollution incidents occurring within their boundaries, provided they accept, at a minimum, the levels of liability established under OPA and some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for oil spills. Many U.S. states that border a navigable waterway have enacted environmental pollution laws that impose strict liability on a person for removal costs and damages resulting from a discharge of oil or a release of a hazardous substance. These laws may be more stringent than U.S. federal law. Moreover, some states have enacted legislation providing for unlimited liability for discharge of pollutants within their waters, although in some cases, states which have enacted this type of legislation have not yet issued implementing regulations defining vessel owners' responsibilities under these laws. The Company intends to comply with all applicable state regulations in the ports where the Company's vessels call.
We currently maintain pollution liability coverage insurance in the amount of $1 billion per incident for each of our vessels. If the damages from a catastrophic spill were to exceed our insurance coverage, it could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
Other United States Environmental Initiatives
The U.S. Clean Air Act of 1970 (including its amendments of 1977 and 1990) ("CAA") requires the EPA to promulgate standards applicable to emissions of volatile organic compounds and other air contaminants. The CAA requires states to adopt State Implementation Plans, or SIPs, some of which regulate emissions resulting from vessel loading and unloading operations which may affect our vessels.
The U.S. Clean Water Act ("CWA") prohibits the discharge of oil, hazardous substances and ballast water in U.S. navigable waters unless authorized by a duly-issued permit or exemption, and imposes strict liability in the form of penalties for any unauthorized discharges. The CWA also imposes substantial liability for the costs of removal, remediation and damages and complements the remedies available under OPA and CERCLA. In 2015, the EPA expanded the definition of "waters of the United States" ("WOTUS"), thereby expanding federal authority under the CWA. Following litigation on the revised WOTUS rule, in December 2018, the EPA and Department of the Army proposed a revised, limited definition of "waters of the United States."
The EPA and the USCG have also enacted rules relating to ballast water discharge, compliance with which requires the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial costs, and/or otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters. The EPA will regulate ballast water discharges and other discharges incidental to the normal operation of certain vessels within United States waters pursuant to the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act ("VIDA"), which was signed into law on December 4, 2018 and will replace the 2013 Vessel General Permit ("VGP") program (which authorizes discharges incidental to operations of commercial vessels, and contains numeric ballast water discharge limits for most vessels to reduce the risk of invasive species in U.S. waters, stringent requirements for exhaust gas scrubbers, and requirements for the use of environmentally acceptable lubricants) and current Coast Guard ballast water management regulations adopted under the U.S. National Invasive Species Act ("NISA"), such as mid-ocean ballast exchange programs and installation of approved USCG technology for all vessels equipped with ballast water tanks bound for U.S. ports or entering U.S. waters. VIDA establishes a new framework for the regulation of vessel incidental discharges under Clean Water Act (CWA), requires the EPA to develop performance standards for those discharges within two years of enactment, and requires the U.S. Coast Guard to develop implementation, compliance, and enforcement regulations within two years of EPA's promulgation of standards. Under VIDA, all provisions of the 2013 VGP and USCG regulations regarding ballast water treatment remain in force and effect until the EPA and U.S. Coast Guard regulations are finalized. Non-military, non-recreational vessels greater than 79 feet in length must continue to comply with the requirements of the VGP, including submission of a Notice of Intent ("NOI") or retention of a PARI form and submission of annual reports. We have submitted NOIs for our vessels where required. Compliance with the EPA, USCG and state regulations could require the installation of equipment on our vessels to treat ballast water before it is discharged or the implementation of other port facility disposal arrangements or procedures at potentially substantial cost, or may otherwise restrict our vessels from entering U.S. waters.
European Union Regulations
In October 2009, the European Union amended a directive to impose criminal sanctions for illicit ship-source discharges of polluting substances, including minor discharges, if committed with intent, recklessly or with serious negligence and the discharges individually or in the aggregate result in deterioration of the quality of water. Aiding and abetting the discharge of a polluting substance may also lead to criminal penalties. The directive applies to all types of vessels, irrespective of their flag, but certain exceptions apply to warships or where human safety or that of the ship is in danger. Criminal liability for pollution may result in substantial penalties or fines and increased civil liability claims.
Regulation (EU) 2015/757 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 (amending EU Directive 2009/16/EC) governs the monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon dioxide emissions from maritime transport, and, subject to some exclusions, requires companies with ships over 5,000 gross tonnage to monitor and report carbon dioxide emissions annually starting on January 1, 2018, which may cause us to incur additional expenses. The maritime EU-MRV regulation applies to all merchant ships of 5,000 gross tons or above on voyages from, to and between ports under jurisdiction of E.U. member states. Ships above 5,000 gross tons account for around 55.0% of the number of ships calling into E.U. ports and represent around 90.0% of the related emissions. Companies operating the vessels will have to monitor the CO2 emissions released while in port and for any voyages to or from a port under the jurisdiction of an E.U. member state and to keep records on CO2 emissions on both per-voyage and annual bases. We submitted a monitoring plan to verifiers for each of our ships indicating the method chosen to monitor and report CO2 emissions and other relevant information, and, as of January 1, 2018, such plans were subsequently dispatched to each of our vessels for implementation. These or other developments may result in financial impacts on our operations that we cannot predict with certainty at this time.
The European Union has adopted several regulations and directives requiring, among other things, more frequent inspections of high-risk ships, as determined by type, age, and flag as well as the number of times the ship has been detained. The European Union also adopted and extended a ban on substandard ships and enacted a minimum ban period and a definitive ban for repeated offenses. The regulation also provided the European Union with greater authority and control over classification societies, by imposing more requirements on classification societies and providing for fines or penalty payments for organizations that failed to comply. Furthermore, the EU has implemented regulations requiring vessels to use reduced sulfur content fuel for their main and auxiliary engines. The EU Directive 2005/33/EC (amending Directive 1999/32/EC) introduced requirements parallel to those in Annex VI relating to the sulfur content of marine fuels. In addition, the EU imposed a 0.1% maximum sulfur requirement for fuel used by ships at berth in EU ports.
International Labor Organization
The International Labor Organization (the "ILO") is a specialized agency of the UN that has adopted the Maritime Labor Convention 2006 ("MLC 2006"). A Maritime Labor Certificate and a Declaration of Maritime Labor Compliance is required to ensure compliance with the MLC 2006 for all ships above 500 gross tons in international trade. We believe that all our vessels are in substantial compliance with and are certified to meet MLC 2006.
Greenhouse Gas Regulation
Currently, the emissions of greenhouse gases from international shipping are not subject to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which entered into force in 2005 and pursuant to which adopting countries have been required to implement national programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with targets extended through 2020. International negotiations are continuing with respect to a successor to the Kyoto Protocol, and restrictions on shipping emissions may be included in any new treaty. In December 2009, more than 27 nations, including the U.S. and China, signed the Copenhagen Accord, which includes a non-binding commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris resulted in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on November 4, 2016 and does not directly limit greenhouse gas emissions from ships. On June 1, 2017, the U.S. president announced that it is withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, but the Paris Agreement provides for a four-year exit process.
At MEPC 70 and MEPC 71, a draft outline of the structure of the initial strategy for developing a comprehensive IMO strategy on reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from ships was approved. In accordance with this roadmap, in April 2018, nations at the MEPC 72 adopted an initial strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from ships. The initial strategy identifies "levels of ambition" to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, including (1) decreasing the carbon intensity from ships through implementation of further phases of the EEDI for new ships; (2) reducing carbon dioxide emissions per transport work, as an average across international shipping, by at least 40% by 2030, pursuing efforts towards 70% by 2050, compared to 2008 emission levels; and (3) reducing the total annual greenhouse emissions by at least 50% by 2050 compared to 2008 while pursuing efforts towards phasing them out entirely. The initial strategy notes that technological innovation, alternative fuels and/or energy sources for international shipping will be integral to achieve the overall ambition. These regulations could cause us to incur additional substantial expenses.
The EU made a unilateral commitment to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions from its member states from 20% of 1990 levels by 2020. The EU also committed to reduce its emissions by 20% under the Kyoto Protocol's second period from 2013 to 2020. Starting in January 2018, large ships calling at EU ports are required to collect and publish data on carbon dioxide emissions and other information.
In the United States, the EPA issued a finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public health and safety, adopted regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain mobile sources and proposed regulations to limit greenhouse gas emissions from certain large stationary sources. However, in March 2017, the U.S. President signed an executive order to review and possibly eliminate the EPA's plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA or individual U.S. states could enact environmental regulations that would affect our operations.
Any passage of climate control legislation or other regulatory initiatives by the IMO, the EU, the U.S. or other countries where we operate, or any treaty adopted at the international level to succeed the Kyoto Protocol or Paris Agreement, that restricts emissions of greenhouse gases could require us to make significant financial expenditures which we cannot predict with certainty at this time. Even in the absence of climate control legislation, our business may be indirectly affected to the extent that climate change may result in sea level changes or certain weather events.
Vessel Security Regulations
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 in the United States, there have been a variety of initiatives intended to enhance vessel security such as the U.S. Maritime Transportation Security Act of 2002 ("MTSA"). To implement certain portions of the MTSA the USCG issued regulations requiring the implementation of certain security requirements aboard vessels operating in waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and at certain ports and facilities, some of which are regulated by the EPA.
Similarly, Chapter XI-2 of the SOLAS Convention imposes detailed security obligations on vessels and port authorities, and mandates compliance with the International Ship and Port Facilities Security Code ("the ISPS Code"). The ISPS Code is designed to enhance the security of ports and ships against terrorism. To trade internationally, a vessel must attain an International Ship Security Certificate ("ISSC"), from a recognized security organization approved by the vessel's flag state. Ships operating without a valid certificate may be detained, expelled from, or refused entry at port until they obtain an ISSC. The various requirements, some of which are found in the SOLAS Convention include, for example:
on-board installation of automatic identification systems to provide a means for the automatic transmission of safety-related information from among similarly equipped ships and shore stations, including information on a ship's identity, position, course, speed and navigational status;
on-board installation of ship security alert systems, which do not sound on the vessel but only alert the authorities on shore;
the development of vessel security plans;
ship identification number to be permanently marked on a vessel's hull;
a continuous synopsis record kept onboard showing a vessel's history including the name of the ship, the state whose flag the ship is entitled to fly, the date on which the ship was registered with that state, the ship's identification number, the port at which the ship is registered and the name of the registered owner(s) and their registered address; and
compliance with flag state security certification requirements.
The USCG regulations, intended to align with international maritime security standards, exempt non-U.S. vessels from MTSA vessel security measures, provided such vessels have on board a valid ISSC that attests to the vessel's compliance with the SOLAS Convention security requirements and the ISPS Code. Future security measures could have a significant financial impact on us. We intend to comply with the various security measures addressed by MTSA, the SOLAS Convention and the ISPS Code.
The cost of vessel security measures has also been affected by the escalation in the frequency of acts of piracy against ships, notably off the coast of Somalia, including the Gulf of Aden and Arabian Sea area. Substantial loss of revenue and other costs may be incurred as a result of detention of a vessel or additional security measures, and the risk of uninsured losses could significantly affect our business. Costs are incurred in taking additional security measures in accordance with Best Management Practices to Deter Piracy, notably those contained in the BMP5 industry standard.
Inspection by Classification Societies
The hull and machinery of every commercial vessel must be classed by a classification society authorized by its country of registry. The classification society certifies that a vessel is safe and seaworthy in accordance with the applicable rules and regulations of the country of registry of the vessel and SOLAS. Most insurance underwriters make it a condition for insurance coverage and lending that a vessel be certified "in class" by a classification society which is a member of the International Association of Classification Societies, the IACS. The IACS has adopted harmonized Common Structural Rules, or the Rules, which apply to oil tankers and bulk carriers constructed on or after July 1, 2015. The Rules attempt to create a level of consistency between IACS Societies. All of our vessels are certified as being "in class" by all the applicable Classification Societies. Our vessels are currently classed with Bureau Veritas, Det Norske Veritas and Nippon Kaiji Kyokai. ISM and ISPS certification have been awarded by Bureau Veritas and the Panama Maritime Authority to our vessels and Eurobulk, our ship management company.
A vessel must undergo annual surveys, intermediate surveys, drydockings and special surveys. In lieu of a special survey, a vessel's machinery may be on a continuous survey cycle, under which the machinery would be surveyed periodically over a five-year period. Every vessel is also required to be drydocked every 30 to 36 months for inspection of the underwater parts of the vessel. If any vessel does not maintain its class and/or fails any annual survey, intermediate survey, drydocking or special survey, the vessel will be unable to carry cargo between ports and will be unemployable and uninsurable which could cause us to be in violation of certain covenants in our loan agreements. Any such inability to carry cargo or be employed, or any such violation of covenants, could have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
The following table lists the drydocking or special survey for the vessels in our current fleet.
Risk of Loss and Liability Insurance
The operation of any cargo vessel includes risks such as mechanical failure, physical damage, collision, property loss, cargo loss or damage and business interruption due to political circumstances in foreign countries, piracy incidents, hostilities and labor strikes. In addition, there is always an inherent possibility of marine disaster, including oil spills and other environmental mishaps, and the liabilities arising from owning and operating vessels in international trade. OPA, which imposes virtually unlimited liability upon shipowners, operators and bareboat charterers of any vessel trading in the exclusive economic zone of the United States for certain oil pollution accidents in the United States, has made liability insurance more expensive for shipowners and operators trading in the United States market. We carry insurance coverage as customary in the shipping industry. However, not all risks can be insured, specific claims may be rejected, and we might not be always able to obtain adequate insurance coverage at reasonable rates.
Hull and Machinery Insurance
We procure hull and machinery insurance, protection and indemnity insurance, which includes environmental damage and pollution insurance and war risk insurance and freight, demurrage and defense insurance for our fleet. We generally do not maintain insurance against loss of hire (except for certain charters for which we consider it appropriate), which covers business interruptions that result in the loss of use of a vessel.
Protection and Indemnity Insurance
Protection and indemnity insurance is provided by mutual protection and indemnity associations, or P&I Associations, covers our third-party liabilities in connection with our shipping activities. This includes third-party liability and other related expenses of injury or death of crew, passengers and other third parties, loss or damage to cargo, claims arising from collisions with other vessels, damage to other third-party property, pollution arising from oil or other substances, and salvage, towing and other related costs, including wreck removal. Protection and indemnity insurance is a form of mutual indemnity insurance, extended by protection and indemnity mutual associations, or "clubs."
Our current protection and indemnity insurance coverage for pollution is $1 billion per vessel per incident. The 13 P&I Associations that comprise the International Group insure approximately 90% of the world's commercial tonnage and have entered into a pooling agreement to reinsure each association's liabilities. The International Group's website states that the pool provides a mechanism for sharing all claims in excess of $10 million up to, currently, approximately $8.2 million. Each P&I Association has capped its exposure to this pooling agreement at $4.5 billion. As a member of a P&I Association, which is a member of the International Group, we are subject to calls payable to the associations based on our claim records as well as the claim records of all other members of the individual associations and members of the shipping pool of P&I Associations comprising the International Group.
C. Organizational structure
Euroseas is the sole owner of all outstanding shares of the subsidiaries listed in Note 1 of our consolidated financial statements under "Item 18. Financial Statements" and in Exhibit 8.1 to this annual report.
D. Property, plants and equipment
We do not own any real property. As part of the management services provided by Eurobulk during the period in which we have conducted business to date, we have shared, at no additional cost, offices with Eurobulk. We do not have current plans to lease or purchase office space, although we may do so in the future.
Our interests in our vessels are owned through our wholly-owned vessel owning subsidiaries and these are our only material properties. Please refer to Note 1, "Basis of Presentation and General Information", of the attached Financial Statements for a listing of our vessel owning subsidiaries. Our vessels are subject to priority mortgages, which secure our obligations under our various credit facilities. For further details regarding our credit facilities, refer to "Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects — B. Liquidity and Capital Resources — Credit Facilities."
Unresolved Staff Comments
Operating and Financial Review and Prospects
The following discussion should be read in conjunction with "Item 3. Key Information – D. Risk Factors", "Item 4. Business Overview", and our financial statements and footnotes thereto contained in this annual report. This discussion contains forward-looking statements, which are based on our assumptions about the future of our business. Our actual results may differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Please read "Forward-Looking Statements" for additional information regarding forward-looking statements used in this annual report. Reference in the following discussion to "we," "our" and "us" refer to Euroseas and our subsidiaries, except where the context otherwise indicates or requires.
We are constantly evaluating opportunities to increase the number of our vessels deployed on time charters or to participate in shipping pools (if available for our vessels); however, we only expect to enter into additional time charters or shipping pools if we can obtain contract terms that satisfy our criteria. Containerships are employed almost exclusively on time charter contracts. We carefully evaluate the length and rate of the time charter contract at the time of fixing or renewing a contract, considering market conditions, trends and expectations.
We constantly evaluate vessel purchase opportunities to expand our fleet accretive to our earnings and cash flow. Additionally, we will consider selling certain of our vessels when favorable sales opportunities present themselves. If, at the time of sale, the carrying value is less than the sales price, we will realize a gain on sale, which will increase our earnings, but if, at the time of sale, the carrying value of a vessel is more than the sales price, we will realize a loss on sale, which will negatively impact our earnings. Please see "Critical Accounting Policies", below, for a further discussion of the consequences of selling our vessels for amounts below their carrying values.
A. Operating results
Factors Affecting Our Results of Operations
We believe that the important measures for analyzing trends in the results of our operations consist of the following:
Calendar days. We define calendar days as the total number of days in a period during which each vessel in our fleet was in our possession including off-hire days associated with major repairs, drydockings or special or intermediate surveys. Calendar days are an indicator of the size of our fleet over a period and affect both the amount of revenues and the amount of expenses that we record during that period.
Available days. We define available days as the total number of days in a period during which each vessel in our fleet was in our possession net of off-hire days associated with scheduled repairs, drydockings or special or intermediate surveys. The shipping industry uses available days to measure the number of days in a period during which vessels were available to generate revenues.
Voyage days. We define voyage days as the total number of days in a period during which each vessel in our fleet was in our possession net of off-hire days associated with scheduled and unscheduled repairs, drydockings or special or intermediate surveys or days waiting to find employment but including days our vessels were sailing for repositioning. The shipping industry uses voyage days to measure the number of days in a period during which vessels actually generate revenues.
Fleet utilization. We calculate fleet utilization by dividing the number of our voyage days during a period by the number of our available days during that period. The shipping industry uses fleet utilization to measure a company's efficiency in finding suitable employment for its vessels and minimizing the amount of days that its vessels are off-hire either waiting to find employment, or commercial off-hire, or for reasons such as unscheduled repairs or other off-hire time related to the operation of the vessels, or operational off-hire. We distinguish our fleet utilization into commercial and operational. We calculate our commercial fleet utilization by dividing our available days net of commercial off-hire days during a period by our available days during that period. We calculate our operational fleet utilization by dividing our available days net of operational off-hire days during a period by our available days during that period.
Spot Charter Rates. Spot charter rates are volatile and fluctuate on a seasonal and year to year basis. The fluctuations are caused by imbalances in the availability of cargoes for shipment and the number of vessels available at any given time to transport these cargoes.
Time Charter Equivalent, or TCE. A standard maritime industry performance measure used to evaluate performance is the daily time charter equivalent, or daily TCE. Daily TCE revenues are time charter revenues and voyage charter revenues minus voyage expenses divided by the number of voyage days during the relevant time period. Voyage expenses primarily consist of port, canal and fuel costs that are unique to a particular voyage, which would otherwise be paid by a charterer under a time charter whereas under spot market voyage charters, we pay such voyage expenses. Containerships are chartered on a time charter basis, and therefore, TCE presents a more accurate representation of the revenues generated by our vessels. Our definition of TCE may not be comparable to that used by other companies in the shipping industry.
Basis of Presentation and General Information
We use the following measures to describe our financial performance:
Time charter revenue and Voyage charter revenue. Our charter revenues are driven primarily by the number of vessels in our fleet, the number of voyage days during which our vessels generate revenues and the amount of daily charter revenue that our vessels earn under charters, which, in turn, are affected by a number of factors, including our decisions relating to vessel acquisitions and disposals, the amount of time that we spend positioning our vessels, the amount of time that our vessels spend in drydock undergoing repairs, maintenance and upgrade work, the age, condition and specifications of our vessels, levels of supply and demand in the transportation market, the number of vessels on time charters, spot charters and in pools and other factors affecting charter rates in the containership market.
Commissions. We pay commissions on all chartering arrangements of 1.25% to Eurochart, a company affiliated with our CEO, plus additional commission of up to 5% to other brokers involved in the transaction, plus address commission of up to 3.75% deducted from charter hire. These additional commissions, as well as changes to charter rates will cause our commission expenses to fluctuate from period to period. Eurochart also receives a fee equal to 1% calculated as stated in the relevant memorandum of agreement for any vessel sold by it on our behalf.
Voyage expenses. Voyage expenses primarily consist of port, canal and fuel costs that are unique to a particular voyage which would otherwise be paid by the charterer under a time charter contract. Under time charters, the charterer pays voyage expenses whereas under spot market voyage charters, we pay such expenses. The amounts of such voyage expenses are driven by the mix of charters undertaken during the period.
Vessel operating expenses. Vessel operating expenses include crew wages and related costs, the cost of insurance, expenses relating to repairs and maintenance, the costs of spares and consumable stores, tonnage taxes and other miscellaneous expenses. Our vessel operating expenses, which generally represent fixed costs, have historically changed in line with the size of our fleet. Other factors beyond our control, some of which may affect the shipping industry in general (including, for instance, developments relating to market prices for insurance or inflationary increases) may also cause these expenses to increase.
Related party management fees. These are the fees that we pay to our affiliated ship managers under our management agreements for the technical and commercial management that Eurobulk performs on our behalf.
Vessel depreciation. We depreciate our vessels on a straight-line basis with reference to the cost of the vessel, age and scrap value as estimated at the date of acquisition. Depreciation is calculated over the remaining useful life of the vessel. Remaining useful lives of property are periodically reviewed and revised to recognize changes in conditions, new regulations or other reasons. Revisions of estimated lives are recognized over current and future periods.
Drydocking and special survey expense. Our vessels are required to be drydocked approximately every 30 to 60 months for major repairs and maintenance that cannot be performed while the vessels are trading. Drydocking and special survey expenses are accounted on the direct expense method as this method eliminates the significant amount of time and subjectivity to determine which costs and activities related to drydocking and special survey should be deferred.
Interest expense and loan costs. We traditionally finance vessel acquisitions partly with debt on which we incur interest expense. The interest rate we pay is generally linked to the 3-month LIBOR rate, although from time to time we may utilize fixed rate loans or could use interest rate swaps to eliminate our interest rate exposure. Interest due is expensed in the period incurred. Loan costs are deferred and amortized over the period of the loan; the un-amortized portion is written-off if the loan is prepaid early.
Other general and administrative expenses. We incur expenses consisting mainly of executive compensation, professional fees, directors' liability insurance and reimbursement of our directors' and officers' travel-related expenses. We acquire executive services of our chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief administrative officer, internal auditor and corporate secretary, through Eurobulk as part of our Master Management Agreement.
In evaluating our financial condition, we focus on the above measures to assess our historical operating performance and we use future estimates of the same measures to assess our future financial performance. In addition, we use the amount of cash at our disposal and our total indebtedness to assess our short-term liquidity needs and our ability to finance additional acquisitions with available resources (see also discussion under "Capital Expenditures" below). In assessing the future performance of our present fleet, the greatest uncertainty relates to the spot market performance which affects those of our vessels that are not employed under fixed time charter contracts as well as the level of the new charter rates for the charters that are to expire. Decisions about the acquisition of additional vessels or possible sales of existing vessels are based on financial and operational evaluation of such action and depend on the overall state of the containership vessel market, the availability of purchase candidates, available employment, anticipated drydocking cost and our general assessment of economic prospects for the sectors in which we operate.
Results from Operations
Year ended December 31, 2018 compared to year ended December 31, 2017
Time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue. Time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue for 2018 amounted to $36.27 million, increasing by 46% compared to the year ended December 31, 2017 during which they amounted to $24.84 million. In 2018, we operated an average of 11.49 vessels, a 23.8% increase over the average of 9.28 vessels we operated during the same period in 2017. In the year 2018, our fleet had 3,814 voyage days earning revenue as compared to 3,184 voyage days earning revenue in 2017. Market charter rates in the year ended December 31, 2018 were higher for our containership vessels compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, which was reflected in the average earnings of our ships. While employed, our vessels generated a time-charter equivalent (or "TCE") rate, of $9,179 per day per vessel in 2018 compared to a TCE rate of $7,309 per day per vessel in 2017, an increase of 25.6%. The average TCE rate our vessels achieve is a combination of the time charter rate earned by our vessels under time charter contracts, which is not influenced by market developments during the duration of the charter (unless the two charter parties
renegotiate the terms of the charter or the charterer is unable to make the contracted payments or we enter into new charter party agreements), and the TCE rate earned by our vessels employed in the spot market which is influenced by market developments.
Commissions. We paid a total of $1.84 million in charter commissions for the year ended December 31, 2018, representing 5.1% of charter revenues. This represents an increase over the year ended December 31, 2017, where commissions paid were $1.32 million, representing 5.3% of charter revenues.
Voyage expenses. Voyage expenses for the year were $1.26 million and relate to expenses for a voyage charter, for repositioning voyages between time charter contracts and ballast voyages, and owners' expenses at certain ports. For the year ended December 31, 2017, voyage expenses amounted to $1.56 million and related mainly to expenses for certain voyage charters. Our vessels are generally chartered under time charter contracts. Voyage expenses usually represent a small fraction (3.5% and 6.3% in each of 2018 and 2017, respectively) of charter revenues. Voyage expenses are dependent on the number of voyage charters, the cost of fuel, port costs and canal tolls and the number of days our vessels sailed without a charter.
Vessel operating expenses. Vessel operating expenses were $19.99 million in 2018 compared to $15.02 million in 2017. In 2018, we operated an average of 11.49 vessels, a 23.8% increase over the average of 9.28 vessels we operated during the same period in 2017. Further, daily vessel operating expenses per vessel amounted to $4,769 per day in 2018 versus $4,436 per day in 2017, an increase of 7.5%, mainly due to higher costs for lubricants and other vessel supplies. Additionally, our vessel Joanna incurred a lower daily cost due to being laid-up during the first quarter of 2017.
Related party management fees. These are part of the fees we pay to Eurobulk under our Master Management Agreement. During 2018, Eurobulk charged us 685 Euros per day per vessel totaling $3.54 million for the year, or $844 per day per vessel. During 2017, Eurobulk charged us 685 Euros per day per vessel totaling $2.63 million for the year, or $777 per day per vessel. The increase in the total amount of U.S. dollars charged within 2018 is due to the higher number of vessels operated within 2018 compared to the previous year and due to unfavorable movement in U.S. dollar/euro exchange rates during 2018 compared to 2017.
Other general and administrative expenses. These expenses include the fixed portion of our management fees, incentive awards, legal and auditing fees, directors' and officers' liability insurance and other miscellaneous corporate expenses. In 2018, we had a total of $2.57 million of general and administrative expenses as compared to $2.50 million in 2017.
Drydocking expenses. These are expenses we pay for our vessels to complete a drydocking as part of an intermediate or special survey. In 2018, we had three vessels completing their special surveys undergoing drydocking, three vessels completing their intermediate surveys by in-water inspections and a vessel starting its special survey and completing it in 2019, for a total cost of $2.77 million. During 2017, we had one vessel undergoing drydocking for a total of $0.6 million.
Vessel depreciation. Vessel depreciation for 2018 was $3.31 million. Comparatively, vessel depreciation for 2017 amounted to $3.59 million. Vessel depreciation in 2018 was lower compared to 2017 because although the average number of vessels increased, the new vessels acquired between September and December 2017 have a lower average daily depreciation charge as a result of their lower acquisition cost and greater remaining useful life compared to the remaining vessels. Further, one of the vessels was fully depreciated in May 2018, therefore there was no depreciation charge for the specific vessel thereafter.
Loss on write-down of vessels held for sale. The Company recorded a loss on write-down of a vessel held for sale of $4.6 million in 2017. This amount was booked in order to reduce the carrying value of two vessels to their fair values. These vessels were one dry-bulk vessel (M/V "Monica P") and one containership (M/V "Aggeliki P."), which were both classified as held for sale as of September 30, 2017. M/V "Aggeliki P". was sold in December 2017 for net proceeds of approximately $4.4 million. As of December 31, 2017, M/V "Monica P". was still held for sale. The Company reached an agreement to sell the vessel on March 19, 2018. The vessel was delivered to its buyers on June 25, 2018 for net proceeds of approximately $6.3 million.
Interest and other financing costs. Interest expense and other financing costs for the year were $3.05 million. Comparatively, during the same period in 2017, interest and other financing costs amounted to $1.55 million. Interest incurred and loan fees were higher in 2018 due to a higher LIBOR rate, higher average outstanding debt and an increased number of new loan agreements as compared to 2017.
Derivatives gain/loss. In 2018, we had a realized loss of $0.20 million from the net interest settlement on our interest rate swap contract that we entered into in October 2014 and an unrealized gain of $0.20 million from the mark to market valuation on the same interest rate swap compared to a marginal realized gain of $0.02 million and a marginal unrealized loss of $0.01 million in 2017. We had entered into the interest rate swap to mitigate our exposure to possible increases in interest rates. The performance of our derivative contracts depends on the movement of interest rates. A decline in interest rates increases our loss in our derivative contracts and vice versa.
Dividend Series B Preferred Shares. The Series B Preferred Shares paid dividends (in cash or in-kind at the option of the Company, subject to certain exceptions) until January 29, 2019 at a rate of 0% or 5%, depending on the trading price of the Company's common stock. At the spin-off date, Euroseas also distributed EuroDry Series B Preferred Shares to holders of Euroseas' Series B Preferred Shares in exchange for a number of such Euroseas Series B Preferred Shares, representing 50% of Euroseas Series B Preferred Shares. In 2018, the Company declared and paid in kind dividends of $1.34 million. In 2017, the Company declared and paid in kind dividends of $1.81 million. The decrease in 2018 is due to the spin-off of the Company and the distribution of 50% of Euroseas Series B Preferred Shares to EuroDry.
Net loss attributable to common shareholders. As a result of the above, net loss for the year ended December 31, 2018 was $2.0 million compared to a net loss of $8.75 million for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Year ended December 31, 2017 compared to year ended December 31, 2016
Time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue . Time charter revenue and voyage charter revenue for 2017 amounted to $24.84 million, increasing by 15.8% compared to the year ended December 31, 2016, during which voyage revenues amounted to $21.46 million. In 2017, we operated an average of 9.28 vessels, a 7% increase over the average of 8.67 vessels we operated during the same period in 2016. In the year 2017, our fleet had 3,184 voyage days earning revenue as compared to 2,844 voyage days earning revenue in 2016. While employed, our vessels generated a TCE rate of $7,309 per day per vessel in 2017 compared to a TCE rate of $7,120 per day per vessel in 2016, an increase of 2.7%. The average TCE rate our vessels achieve is a combination of the time charter rate earned by our vessels under time charter contracts, which is not influenced by market developments during the duration of the charter (unless the two charter parties renegotiate the terms of the charter or the charterer is unable to make the contracted payments or we enter into new charter party agreements), and the TCE rate earned by our vessels employed in the spot market which is influenced by market developments.
Commissions. We paid a total of $1.32 million in charter commissions for the year ended December 31, 2017, representing 5.3% of charter revenues. This represents an increase over the year ended December 31, 2016, where commissions paid were $1.15 million, representing 5.4% of charter revenues.
Voyage expenses. Voyage expenses for the year were $1.56 million and relate to expenses for certain voyage charters. For the year ended December 31, 2016, voyage expenses amounted to $1.21 million. Our vessels are generally chartered under time charter contracts. Voyage expenses usually represent a small fraction (6.3% and 5.6% in each of 2017 and 2016, respectively) of charter revenues. Voyage expenses are dependent on the number of voyage charters, the cost of fuel, port costs and canal tolls and the number of days our vessels sailed without a charter.
Vessel operating expenses. Vessel operating expenses were $15.02 million in 2017 compared to $13.85 million in 2016. Daily vessel operating expenses per vessel amounted to $4,436 per day in 2017 versus $4,363 per day in 2016, an increase of 1.7%, affected by the higher prices paid in 2017 for specific vessel consumables such as lubricants and stores.
Management fees. These are part of the fees we pay to Eurobulk under our Master Management Agreement. During 2017, Eurobulk charged us 685 Euros per day per vessel totaling $2.63 million for the year, or $777 per day per vessel. During 2016, Eurobulk charged us 685 Euros per day per vessel totaling $2.4 million for the year, or $756 per day per vessel. The increase in the total amount of U.S. dollars paid within 2017 is due to the higher exchange rates of the Euro (€) with respect to the U.S. dollar compared to the previous year and the higher number of vessels operated within the year 2017 compared to the previous year.
Other general and administrative expenses. These expenses include the fixed portion of our management fees, incentive awards, legal and auditing fees, directors' and officers' liability insurance and other miscellaneous corporate expenses. In 2017, we had a total of $2.50 million of general and administrative expenses as compared to $2.67 million in 2016.
Drydocking expenses. These are expenses we pay for our vessels to complete a drydocking as part of an intermediate or special survey. In 2017, we had one vessel undergoing drydocking for a total of $0.6 million. During 2016, we had three vessels undergoing drydocking for a total of $2.2 million.
Vessel depreciation. Vessel depreciation for 2017 was $3.59 million. Comparatively, vessel depreciation for 2016 amounted to $4.96 million. Vessel depreciation in 2017 was lower compared to 2016, despite a higher number of vessels operated in 2017. This is due to the vessels acquired in 2017 (M/Vs "EM Astoria", "EM Oinousses", "EM Athens" and "EM Corfu") which have lower average daily depreciation charges compared to the fleet average, due to their lower acquisition cost and greater remaining useful lives compared to the remaining vessels of our fleet.
Loss on write-down of vessels held for sale. The Company recorded a loss on write-down of vessels held for sale of $4.6 million in 2017. This amount was booked in order to reduce the carrying value of two vessels to their fair values. These vessels are one dry-
bulk vessel (M/V "Monica P") and one containership (M/V "Aggeliki P."), which were both classified as held for sale as of September 30, 2017. M/V "Aggeliki P". was sold in December 2017 for net proceeds of approximately $4.4 million. As of December 31, 2017, M/V "Monica P". was still held for sale. The Company reached an agreement to sell the vessel on March 19, 2018. The vessel was delivered to its buyers in June 2018. The Company recorded a loss on write-down of a vessel held for sale of $5.92 million in 2016. This amount was booked in order to reduce the carrying value of one dry-bulk vessel (M/V "Eleni P") held for sale as of December 31, 2016 to its fair value, the value that it was actually sold.
Interest and other financing costs. Interest expense and other financing costs for the year ended December 31, 2017 were $1.55 million. Comparatively, during the same period in 2016, interest and other financing costs amounted to $1.37 million. Interest incurred and loan fees were higher in 2017 due to the higher average outstanding debt during the year as compared to 2016.
Derivatives gain/loss. In 2017, we had a marginal realized gain of $0.02 million from the net interest settlement on our interest rate swap contract that we entered into in October 2014 and a marginal unrealized loss of $0.01 million from the mark to market valuation on the same interest rate swap compared to a realized loss of $0.13 million and unrealized gain of $0.01 million in 2016. We entered into the interest rate swap to mitigate our exposure to possible increases in interest rates.
Impairment in Joint Venture. In 2016, the Company recorded an impairment of $14.07 million on its investment in Euromar, which was a joint venture between the Company and two private equity firms, reducing the carrying value of the investment to zero, due to the persisting depressed market environment and the amended loan agreements based on which the Company concluded that its investment in Euromar was impaired and that the impairment was other than temporary.
Equity Loss in Joint Venture. As explained above, due to the impairment in Joint venture no equity loss was recorded in 2017. In 2016, we recognized a $2.44 million loss as our share in Euromar losses. In September 2017, Euroseas acquired the 85.714% interest in Euromar it did not already own for nominal cost. As a result of the acquisition, Euromar became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. However, its vessels were substantially under the control of its lenders and were all sold by the end of 2017, and, thus, it has not been consolidated in our results nor any gain or loss from it was recognized.
Other Investment Income. In 2016, we recognized $1.02 million income from accrued dividends relating to $5.00 million of funds we made available to Euromar, $4.00 million of which remained in an escrow account as of December 31, 2016 and were available to be invested in Euromar if called by our partners in good faith, and the $1.00 million of such funds contributed to Euromar in 2014 in the form of preferred units (the "Preferred Units"). These funds accrued dividends in Preferred Units of Euromar. In December 2016, we determined that it was unlikely to recover any investment in Preferred Units of Euromar and recorded an impairment of $4.42 million representing the entire value of Preferred Units; we also stopped recognizing any additional accrued dividends. As of December 31, 2016, our Other Investment was shown in our Consolidated balance sheet at $4.00 million which represented the funds in the escrow account. During 2017, we continued not recognizing any accrued dividends and hence, other investment income was nil for the period. The funds held in the escrow account were returned to us in September 2017.
Dividend Series B Preferred Shares. The Series B Preferred Shares paid dividends (in cash or in-kind at the option of the Company, subject to certain exceptions) until January 29, 2019 at a rate of 0% or 5%, depending on the trading price of the Company's common stock. In 2017, the Company declared and paid in kind dividends of $1.81 million. In 2016, the Company declared and paid in kind dividends of $1.73 million.
Net loss attributable to common shareholders. As a result of the above, net loss for the year ended December 31, 2017 was $8.75 million compared to a net loss of $35.81 million for the year ended December 31, 2016.
Critical Accounting Policies
The discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations is based upon our consolidated financial statements, which have been prepared in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America, or U.S. GAAP. The preparation of those financial statements requires us to make estimates and judgments that affect the reported amount of assets and liabilities, revenues and expenses and related disclosure of contingent assets and liabilities at the date of our financial statements. Actual results may differ from these estimates under different assumptions or conditions.
Critical accounting policies are those that reflect significant judgments or uncertainties, and potentially result in materially different results under different assumptions and conditions. We have described below what we believe are our most critical accounting policies that involve a high degree of judgment and the methods of their application.
We record the value of our vessels at their cost (which includes acquisition costs directly attributable to the vessel and expenditures made to prepare the vessel for its initial voyage) less accumulated depreciation and impairment (if any). Depreciation is based on cost less the estimated residual scrap value. An increase in the useful life of the vessel or in the residual value would have the effect of decreasing the annual depreciation charge and extending it into later periods. A decrease in the useful life of the vessel or in the residual value would have the effect of increasing the annual depreciation charge and possibly an impairment charge. We depreciate our vessels on a straight-line basis over their estimated useful lives, estimated to be 25 years from date of initial delivery from the shipyard and the residual value of our vessels is estimated to be $250 per lightweight ton.
Impairment of vessels
We review our vessels held for use for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances (such as vessel market values, vessel sales and purchases, business plans and overall market conditions) indicate that the carrying amount of the assets may not be recoverable. If we identify indication for impairment for a vessel, we determine undiscounted projected net operating cash flows for each vessel and compare it to the vessel carrying value. When the estimate of undiscounted cash flows, excluding interest charges, expected to be generated by the use of the asset is less than its carrying amount, we evaluate the asset for an impairment loss. In the event that impairment occurred, we would determine the fair value of the related asset and we record a charge to operations calculated by comparing the asset's carrying value to the estimated fair market value. We estimate fair market value primarily through the use of third party valuations performed on an individual vessel basis.
The carrying values of the Company's vessels may not represent their fair market value at any point in time since the market prices of second-hand vessels tend to fluctuate with changes in charter rates and the cost of newbuildings. The Company determines the rates to be used in its impairment analysis based on the prevailing market charter rates for the first two years and on inflation-unadjusted historical average rates, from year three onwards.
The Company calculates the historical average rates over a 16-year period for 2017 and a 17-year period for 2018, which both start in 2002 and take into account complete market cycles, and which provide a more representative reference for the long-term rates. These rates are used for the period a vessel is not under a charter contract; if there is a contract, the charter rate of the contract is used for the period of the contract.
Our impairment exercise is highly sensitive on variances in the time charter rates and vessel operating costs; it also requires assumptions for:
the effective fleet utilization rate;
estimated scrap values;
future drydocking costs; and
probabilities of sale for each vessel.
Our estimates for the time charter rates for the first two years are based on market information available for future rates (based on the length of charters that can be secured at the time of the analysis, generally, one to two years). Vessel utilization estimates are based on the status of each vessel at the time of the assessment and the Company's past experience in finding employment for its vessels at comparable market conditions. Cost estimates, like drydocking and operating costs, are based on the Company's data for its own vessels; past estimates for such costs have generally been very close to the actual levels observed. Specifically, we use our budgeted operating expenses escalated by 1.5% per annum and our budgeted drydocking costs, assuming a five-year special survey cycle. Overall, the assumptions are based on historical trends as well as future expectations. Although management believes that the assumptions used to evaluate potential impairment are reasonable and appropriate, such assumptions are highly subjective. Our impairment test for the year ended December 31, 2018 identified one of our vessels with indication for impairment as presented in the following table. For this vessel, we performed our impairment analysis which indicated no impairment. Furthermore, we performed sensitivity analysis for the charter rates and operating cost assumptions (which are the inputs most sensitive to variations) allowing for variances of up to 10% without an impairment indication.
There can be no assurance as to how long-term charter rates and vessel values will increase as compared to their current levels and approach historical average levels for similarly aged vessels or whether they will improve by any significant degree. Charter rates, which improved significantly during the first half of 2018 but retreated in the second half of the year, may still return to their previously very depressed levels which could adversely affect our revenue and profitability, and future assessments of vessel impairment. The
impairment analysis may determine that the carrying value of a vessel is recoverable if the vessel is held and operated to the end of its useful life, however, if the vessel is sold when the market is depressed, the Company might suffer a loss on the sale. Whether the Company realizes a gain or loss on the sale of a vessel is primarily a function of the relative market values of vessels at the time the vessel was acquired less the accumulated depreciation and impairment, if any, versus the relative market values on the date a vessel is sold.
For a discussion of the potential loss in the case of sale of all of our vessels with market value below their carrying value, we refer to the "Item 4.B. Business Overview – Our Fleet".
For the vessel which had impairment indication, a comparison of the average estimated daily time charter equivalent rate used in our impairment analysis with the average "break even rate" for the uncontracted period is presented below:
Charter Rate as of 12/31/2018
Remaining Life (years)
Rate Year 1 (2018)
Rate Year 2 (2019)
Rate Year 3+ (2020+)
Breakeven Rate (USD/day)
Recent Accounting Pronouncements
Please refer to Note 2 of the financial statements attached to this annual report.\
B. Liquidity and Capital Resources
Historically, our sources of funds have been equity provided by our shareholders, operating cash flows and long-term borrowings. Our principal use of funds has been capital expenditures to establish and expand our fleet, maintain the quality of our vessels during operations and the periodically required drydockings, comply with international shipping standards and environmental laws and regulations, fund working capital requirements and if necessary operating shortfalls, make principal repayments on outstanding loan facilities, and pay dividends. We expect to rely on cash available, funds generated from operating cash flows, funds from our shareholders, equity offerings, like our ongoing at-the-market ("ATM") offering (under our filed prospectus about $2.20 million of our stock is still available for sale), and long-term borrowings to meet our liquidity needs going forward and to finance our capital expenditures and working capital needs in 2019 and beyond.
As of December 31, 2018, we had a working capital surplus of $0.4 million and have been incurring losses. Our cash balance amounted to $6.96 million and cash in restricted and retention accounts amounted to $6.25 million as of December 31, 2018.
For the two years following January 29, 2019, the holders of EuroDry Series B Preferred Shares will receive a cash dividend at a dividend rate of 12% per annum, which will increase to 14% thereafter. We intend to fund our working capital requirements via cash at hand, cash flow from operations, debt balloon payment refinancing and proceeds from equity offerings. In the unlikely event that these are not sufficient we may also draw down up to $2.00 million under a commitment from COLBY Trading Ltd., a company controlled by the Pittas family and affiliated with our Chief Executive Officer, and possible vessel sales (where equity will be released), if required, among other options. We believe we will have adequate funding through the sources described above and, accordingly, we believe we have the ability to continue as a going concern and finance our obligations as they come due over the next twelve months following the date of the issuance of our financial statements. Consequently, our consolidated financial statements have been prepared on a going concern basis which contemplates the realization of assets and satisfaction of liabilities in the normal course of business.
Net cash from operating activities.
Our cash flow deficit from operating activities for 2018 was $1.48 million as compared to a net surplus from cash flows provided by operating activities of $5.05 million in 2017 and cash flow deficit from operating activities of $5.09 million in 2016.
The major drivers of the change of cash flows from operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, are the following: the significant recovery of the market rates during the year ended December 31, 2018, which resulted in a significantly higher TCE rate of $9,179 compared to $7,309 for the year ended December 31, 2017. The increase in TCE rates as well as the increase in the average number of vessels in our fleet is also reflected in the increase of our operating income (excluding non-cash items) to $4.43 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 from $1.59 million for the corresponding period in 2017. This positive effect was, however, offset by (i) a net working capital outflow of $3.48 million during the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to a net working capital inflow of $4.82 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, mainly due to the significant
decrease of the Due to related company balance during 2018 as reimbursements were made to our Manager and (ii) by higher net interest expense for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the corresponding period in 2017.
The positive change in cash flows from operating activities for the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to the year ended December 31, 2016, was due to: (i) the modest recovery of the market rates during the year ended December 31, 2017, which resulted in a slightly higher TCE rate of $7,309 compared to $7,120 for the year ended December 31, 2016. (ii) lower drydocking expenses of $0.57 million for one vessel that underwent drydocking in the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to $2.20 million for three vessels that underwent drydocking in the year ended December 31, 2016. The slight increase in TCE rates and in the average number of vessels in our fleet as well as the decrease in drydocking expenses is also reflected in the increase of our operating income (excluding non-cash items) to $1.59 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 from $1.50 million of operating loss (excluding non-cash items) for the corresponding period in 2016. There was also positive effect from a net working capital inflow of $4.82 million during the year ended December 31, 2017, mainly due to the significant increase of the Due to related company balance during 2017 as payments were made by our Manager on our behalf, compared to a net working capital outflow of $2.22 million for the year ended December 31, 2016..
Net cash from investing activities.
Net cash flows provided by investing activities were $6.25 million for the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to $16.51 million used in investing activities for the year ended December 31, 2017. The net increase in cash flows provided by investing activities of $22.76 million from 2017 is mainly attributable to a decrease of $30.0 million in payments for vessel acquisitions and major improvements during the year ended December 31, 2018 compared to the same period of 2017, partially offset by a net increase of $3.30 million in proceeds from vessel sales during the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to the same period of 2017 and $4.0 million of increased cash flows for the year ended December 31, 2017 due to a release of funds from other investment that took place during 2017.
Net cash flows used in investing activities were $16.51 million for the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to cash flows provided by investing activities of $1.11 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. The net decrease in cash flows used in investing activities of $17.62 million is attributable to an increase of $26.98 million in payments for vessel acquisitions and major improvements during the year ended December 31, 2017 compared to the same period of 2016, partially offset by an increase of $5.36 million in proceeds from vessel sales during the year ended December 31, 2017, and $4.0 million of increased cash flows for the year ended December 31, 2017 due to a release of funds from other investment that took place during 2017.
Net cash from financing activities.
Net cash flows provided by financing activities were $0.14 million for the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to net cash flows provided by financing activities of $12.75 million for the year ended December 31, 2017. This decrease in cash flows provided by financing activities of $12.61 million, compared to the year ended December 31, 2017, is attributable to an increase of $23.11 million in long term debt principal payments during the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to the same period of 2017 (including a $2.0 million related party loan repaid in 2017) and an increase of $3.02 million in net outflow of funds to a spun-off subsidiary (EuroDry) during the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, which is partially offset by an increase of $1.74 million in proceeds from issuance of common stock, net of offering expenses during the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to the same period of 2017 and an increase in proceeds of long term debt (net of loan arrangement fees paid) of $11.76 million during the year ended December 31, 2018, compared to the same period of 2017.
Net cash flows provided by financing activities were $12.75 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to net cash flows used in financing activities of $6.34 million for the year ended December 31, 2016. This increase in cash flows provided by financing activities of $19.09 million, compared to the year ended December 31, 2016, is mainly attributable to an increase in proceeds from long-term debt (net of loan arrangement fees paid) of $5.82 million during the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to the year ended December 31, 2016 (including proceeds of $2.0 million from a related party loan during 2016), a decrease of $6.88 million in repayments of long term debt during the year ended December 31, 2017 (including a $2.0 million related party loan repaid in 2017), compared to the same period of 2016 and a decrease of $9.27 million in net outflow of funds to a spun-off subsidiary (EuroDry) during the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to the same period in 2016, which is partially offset by a decrease of $2.88 million in proceeds from issuance of common stock, net of offering expenses during the year ended December 31, 2017, compared to the same period of 2016.
We operate in a capital-intensive industry which requires significant amounts of investment, and we fund a major portion of this investment through long term debt. We maintain debt levels we consider prudent based on our market expectations, cash flow, interest coverage and percentage of debt to capital.
As of December 31, 2018, we had three outstanding loans with a combined outstanding balance of $37.49 million. These loans have maturity within 2021. Our long-term debt as of December 31, 2018 comprises bank loans granted to our vessel-owning subsidiaries. A description of our loans as of December 31, 2018 is provided in Note 7 of our attached financial statements. As of December 31, 2018, we are scheduled to repay approximately $5.21 million of the above bank loans in 2019.
Our loan agreements contain covenants.
Our loans have various covenants such as minimum requirements regarding the hull ratio cover (the ratio of fair value of vessel to outstanding loan less cash in retention accounts) and restrictions as to changes in management and ownership of the vessel ship-owning companies, distribution of profits or assets (in effect, limiting dividends in some loans to 60% of profits, or, not permitting dividend payment or other distributions in cases that an event of default has occurred), additional indebtedness and mortgage of vessels without the lender's prior consent, sale of vessels, maximum fleet-wide leverage, sale of capital stock of our subsidiaries, ability to make investments and other capital expenditures, entering in mergers or acquisitions, minimum cash balance requirements and minimum cash retention accounts (restricted cash). When necessary, we do provide supplemental collateral in the form of restricted cash or cross-collateralize vessels to ensure compliance with hull cover ratio ("loan-to-value" ratio). Increases in restricted cash required to satisfy loan covenants would reduce funds available for investment or working capital and could have a negative impact on our operations. If we cannot cure any violated covenants, we might be required to repay all or part of our loans, which, in turn, might require us to sell one or more of our vessels under distressed conditions. As of December 31, 2018, we were not in default of any credit facility covenant.
On December 19, 2016, the SEC declared effective our shelf registration statement on Form F-3 pursuant to which we registered common shares, preferred shares, debt securities, warrants and units up to a total dollar amount of $400,000,000 (about $4.80 million of which were used under our ATM offering), to be sold by the Company, as well as 5,723,375 common shares to be sold by certain selling shareholders.
We make capital expenditures from time to time in connection with our vessel acquisitions or participation in joint ventures to acquire vessels.
In 2010, we entered into our Euromar joint venture with two private equity firms. The Company has not provided any guarantees to Euromar beyond its capital already invested or funds put in escrow. None of the loans entered into by Euromar have any recourse to the Company. On September 7, 2017, Euroseas became the sole owner of Euromar at a nominal price of $1. The Company acquired the 85.714% interest in Euromar it did not already own and Euromar became a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company. The Company provided no guarantees to Euromar's lenders, and none of the lenders have any recourse against the Company. As of December 31, 2017, all vessels of Euromar were sold with the consent of Euromar's lenders; all proceeds from such sales and any funds in excess of other liabilities were applied towards the indebtedness of Euromar with any excess indebtedness written off; Euromar was released from all its corporate guarantees to its lenders.
In September 2016 we took delivery of the feeder containership MV Aegean Express for a cost of $3.1 million. In December 2016 we purchased the feeder containership M/V "RT Dagr" by issuing 0.9 million shares of the Company's common stock. In June 2017 we took delivery of the feeder containership M/V "EM Astoria" for $4.75 million. In September 2017 we took delivery of the feeder containership M/V "EM Athens" for $4.2 million. In October 2017 we took delivery of the feeder containership M/V "EM Oinousses" for $4.3 million and the feeder containership M/V "EM Corfu" for $5.7 million. In December 2017 we took delivery of the intermediate containership M/V "Akinada Bridge" for $11 million. All these five containerships were purchased from Euromar for $29.85 million.
We currently have four vessels scheduled for drydocking over the next 12 months.
In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Company declared no dividend on its common stock. During the fourth quarter of 2013, the Company decided to suspend the quarterly dividend on its common stock to focus all its resources in exploiting investment opportunities in the markets. In 2014, the Company paid $13,050 of dividends that accrued before the fourth quarter of 2013 but were previously unpaid.
Within 2016, 2017 and 2018, the Company declared sixteen consecutive quarterly dividends on its Series B Preferred Shares, amounting to $1.73 million in 2016, $1.81 million in 2017 and $1.34 million in 2018, all of which were paid in-kind.
C. Research and development, patents and licenses, etc.
D. Trend information
Our results of operations depend primarily on the charter rates that we are able to realize. Charter rates paid for container vessels are primarily a function of the underlying balance between vessel supply and demand.
The demand for containership capacity is determined by the underlying demand for commodities transported in these vessels, which in turn is influenced by trends in the global economy. One of the main drivers of the containerized trade has been the growth in exports of finished goods. Demand for containership capacity is also affected by the operating efficiency of the global fleet, i.e., the average speed the fleet operates, and port congestion. A factor affecting mainly the containership sector, especially during periods of high fuel prices and/or low charter rates, is slow-steaming (i.e., the practice of running a vessel at lower speeds to economize on fuel costs). Slow-steaming increases the number of ships required to carry a given amount of trade volume and thus increases demand for ships as do higher levels of port congestion, leading to higher charter rates if all other factors influencing rates are unchanged.
The supply of containerships is dependent on the delivery of new vessels and the removal of vessels from the global fleet, either through scrapping or loss. According to industry sources, as of April 1, 2019, the capacity of the fully cellular worldwide container vessel fleet was approximately 22.14 million teu with approximately 2.88 million teu, or, about 13% of the present fleet capacity on order, the growing supply of container vessels may exceed future demand.
The level of scrapping activity is generally a function of scrapping prices in relation to current and prospective charter market conditions, as well as operating, repair and survey costs. The average age at which a vessel is scrapped over the last ten years has been between 25 and 27 years, with smaller vessels scrapped at a later age. During strong markets, the average age at which the vessels are scrapped increases; during 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and the first nine months of 2008, the majority of the Feedership, Handysize and Intermediate size containerships that were scrapped were in excess of 30 years of age. Continued weakness of containership charter rates resulted in increased scrapping rates at even lower vessel scrapping ages. In fact, 2016 saw scrapping rates of more than 500,000 teu, a 35-year record. In 2017, scrapping rates reached 398,610 teu, while in 2018, scrapping rates declined year on year reaching 119,910 teu.
Declining shipping charter rates have a negative impact on our earnings when our vessels are employed in the spot market or when they are to be re-chartered after completing a time charter contract. As of April 1, 2019, approximately 55% of our ship capacity days in remainder of 2019 and approximately 4% of our ship capacity days in 2020, are under time charter contracts. If the market rates decrease from current levels or the supply of vessels increases, our vessels may have difficulty securing employment and, if so, may be employed at rates lower than their present charters.
E. Off-balance Sheet Arrangements
As of December 31, 2018, we did not have any off-balance sheet arrangements.
F. Tabular Disclosure of Contractual Obligations
Contractual Obligations and Commitments
Contractual obligations are set forth in the following table as of December 31, 2018:
In U.S. dollars
Less Than One Year
One to Three Years
Three to Five Years
Interest Payments (1)
Vessel Management fees (2)
Other Management fees (3)
(1) Assuming the amortization of the loans as of December 31, 2018 described above, each loan's interest rate margin over LIBOR and average LIBOR rates of about 3.01%, 2.31%, 2.11%, 2.02%, 2.03% per annum for the five years, respectively, based on the LIBOR yield curve as of December 31, 2018. Also includes our obligation to make payments required as of December 31, 2017 under our interest rate swap agreements based on the same LIBOR forward rate assumptions (see Item 11).
(2) Refers to our obligation for management fees under our Amended and Restated Master Management Agreement and management agreement with the ship-owning companies in effect as of January 1, 2019 and expiring on January 1, 2023. The management fees have been computed for 2019 based on the agreed rate of 685 Euros per day per vessel (approximately $785) and for 2020 we have assumed an increase in the rate of 2% for inflation. We assumed no changes in the U.S. Dollar to Euro exchange rate (assumed at 1.15 USD/Euro). We further assume that we hold our vessels until they reach 25 years of age, after which they are considered to be scrapped and no longer bear obligations.
(3) Refers to our obligation for management fees of $1,250,000 per year under our Master Management Agreement with Eurobulk for the cost of providing management services to Euroseas as a public company and its subsidiaries. This fee is adjusted for inflation in Greece during the previous calendar year every January 1st. From January 1, 2020 on, we have assumed an inflation rate of 2.0% per year. The agreement expires on January 1, 2023.
G. Safe Harbor
See "Forward-Looking Statements" at the beginning of this annual report.
Directors, Senior Management and Employees
A. Directors and Senior Management
The following sets forth the name and position of each of our directors and executive officers.
Aristides J. Pittas
Chairman, President and CEO; Class A Director
Dr. Anastasios Aslidis
CFO and Treasurer; Class A Director
Aristides P. Pittas
Vice Chairman; Class A Director
Class B Director
Class C Director
Class C Director (since June 25, 2013)
Series B Director (since December 7, 2017)
Aristides J. Pittas has been a member of our Board of Directors and our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer since our inception on May 5, 2005. Since 1997, Mr. Pittas has also been the President of Eurochart, our affiliate. Eurochart is a shipbroking company specializing in chartering and selling and purchasing ships. Since January 1995, Mr. Pittas has been the President and Managing Director of Eurobulk, our affiliated ship management company. He resigned as Managing Director of Eurobulk in June 2005. Eurobulk is a ship management company that provides ocean transportation services. From September 1991 to December 1994, Mr. Pittas was the Vice President of Oceanbulk Maritime SA, a ship management company. From March 1990 to August 1991, Mr. Pittas
served both as the Assistant to the General Manager and the Head of the Planning Department of Varnima International SA, a shipping company operating tanker vessels. From June 1987 until February 1990, Mr. Pittas was the head of the Central Planning department of Eleusis Shipyards S.A. From January 1987 to June 1987, Mr. Pittas served as Assistant to the General Manager of Chios Navigation Shipping Company in London, a company that provides ship management services. From December 1985 to January 1987, Mr. Pittas worked in the design department of Eleusis Shipyards S.A. where he focused on shipbuilding and ship repair. Mr. Pittas has a B.Sc. in Marine Engineering from University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and a MSc in both Ocean Systems Management and Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Dr. Anastasios Aslidis has been our Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer and member of our Board of Directors since September 2005. Prior to joining Euroseas, Dr. Aslidis was a partner at Marsoft, an international consulting firm focusing on investment and risk management in the maritime industry. Dr. Aslidis has more than 25 years of experience in the maritime industry. He also served as consultant to the Boards of Directors of shipping companies (public and private) advising on strategy development, asset selection and investment timing. Dr. Aslidis holds a Ph.D. in Ocean Systems Management (1989) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, M.S. in Operations Research (1987) and M.S. in Ocean Systems Management (1984) also from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a Diploma in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens (1983).
Aristides P. Pittas has been a member of our Board of Directors since our inception on May 5, 2005 and our Vice Chairman since September 1, 2005. Mr. Pittas has been a shareholder in over 100 oceangoing vessels during the last 20 years. Since February 1989, Mr. Pittas has been the Vice President of Oceanbulk Maritime SA, a ship management company. From November 1987 to February 1989, Mr. Pittas was employed in the supply department of Drytank SA, a shipping company. From November 1981 to June 1985, Mr. Pittas was employed at Trust Marine Enterprises, a brokerage house as a sale and purchase broker. From September 1979 to November 1981, Mr. Pittas worked at Gourdomichalis Maritime SA in the operation and Freight Collection department. Mr. Pittas has a B.Sc in Economics from Athens School of Economics.
Stephania Karmiri has been our Secretary since our inception on May 5, 2005. Since July 1995, Mrs. Karmiri has been executive secretary to Eurobulk, our affiliated ship management company. Eurobulk is a ship management company that provides ocean transportation services. At Eurobulk, Mrs. Karmiri has been responsible for dealing with sale and purchase transactions, vessel registrations/deletions, bank loans, supervision of office administration and office/vessel telecommunication. From May 1992 to June 1995, she was secretary to the technical department of Oceanbulk Maritime SA, a ship management company. From 1988 to 1992, Mrs. Karmiri served as assistant to brokers for Allied Shipbrokers, a company that provides shipbroking services to sale and purchase transactions. Mrs. Karmiri has taken assistant accountant and secretarial courses from Didacta college.
Panagiotis Kyriakopoulos has been a member of our Board of Directors since our inception on May 5, 2005. Since July 2002, he has been the Chief Executive Officer of STAR INVESTMENTS S.A., one of the leading Mass Media Companies in Greece, running television and radio stations. From July 1997 to July 2002 he was the C.E.O. of the Hellenic Post Group, the Universal Postal Service Provider, having the largest retail network in Greece for postal and financial services products. From March 1996 until July 1997, Mr. Kyriakopoulos was the General Manager of ATEMKE SA, one of the leading construction companies in Greece listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. From December 1986 to March 1996, he was the Managing Director of Globe Group of Companies, a group active in the areas of shipowning and management, textiles and food and distribution. The company was listed on the Athens Stock Exchange. From June 1983 to December 1986, Mr. Kyriakopoulos was an assistant to the Managing Director of Armada Marine S.A., a company active in international trading and shipping, owning and managing a fleet of twelve vessels. Presently he is Chairman of the Hellenic Private Television Owners Association, BoD member of the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), and BoD member of Digea S.A. He has also been an investor in the shipping industry for more than 20 years. Mr. Kyriakopoulos has a B.Sc. degree in Marine Engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne, a MSc. degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering with specialization in Management from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Master degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Imperial College, London.
George Taniskidis has been a member of our Board of Directors since our inception on May 5, 2005. He is the Chairman of Core Capital Partners, a consulting firm specializing in debt restructuring. He was Chairman and Managing Director of Millennium Bank and a member of the Board of Directors of BankEuropa (subsidiary bank of Millennium Bank in Turkey) until May 2010. He was also a member of the Executive Committee and the Board of Directors of the Hellenic Banks Association. From 2003 until 2005, he was a member of the Board of Directors of Visa International Europe, elected by the Visa issuing banks of Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Israel and Greece. From 1990 to 1998, Mr. Taniskidis worked at XIOSBANK (until its acquisition by Piraeus Bank in 1998) in various positions, with responsibility for the bank's credit strategy and network. Mr. Taniskidis studied Law in the National University of Athens and in the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he received a L.L.M. After law school, he joined the law firm of Rogers & Wells in New York, where he worked until 1989 and was also a member of the New York State Bar Association. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization.