November 14, 2000
Hvide turnaround continues
Hvide Marine Inc. today reported a net loss of $3.1 million or $0.31 per diluted share for the quarter ended September 30, 2000, versus a net loss of $20.1 million or $1.29 per diluted share for the year-earlier period.
The current quarter include a gain of approximately $4.2 million on sale of assets. Revenues of $81.6 million were down from the year-earlier figure of $86.0 million due mainly to tanker retirements and lower towing revenues.But operating income, however, increased to $9.3 million from a year- earlier loss of $1.8 million as a result of reduced operating costs and lower depreciation expense.
"The sharp upturn in the offshore energy support business, coupled with tight cost controls, is helping us achieve our short-term goal of better quarter-to-quarter performance," commented president and CEO Gerhard E. Kurz. "Longer term, we look to a return to bottom-line profitability as we continue to benefit from improving market conditions in both the offshore and tanker segments, the reduction of debt through the sale of surplus assets, and lower overhead and operating costs through the ongoing consolidation of facilities and functions.''
Revenues from the Seabulk Offshore unit totaled $39.1 million against $32.2 million in the year-ago period as the increase in worldwide day rates, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico, accelerated late in the quarter. In the Gulf of Mexico, day rates for Seabulk Offshore's 23 supply boats averaged $4,872 in the third quarter of 2000 versus $3,596 in the year-ago quarter and $3,895 in the immediately preceding quarter.
Utilization was 63% in both the second and third quarters of 2000, and 75% in the year-earlier period. Seabulk Offshore's 30 Gulf of Mexico crew boats averaged $2,114 and an 87% utilization rate versus $1,754 and 75%, respectively, in the year-ago quarter.
Internationally, where the company has major operations in West Africa, the Middle East and Far East, day rates for Seabulk Offshore's fleet of 66 anchor handling tug and tug supply vessels averaged $4,867, up from $4,662 in the year-ago quarter and $4,471 in the immediately preceding quarter.
Utilization was 58% in the current quarter versus 49% a year ago and 63% in the immediately preceding quarter. Day rates for Seabulk Offshore's international fleet of 35 crew/utility vessels rose to $1,773 from $1,629 in the year-ago quarter, but utilization declined to 39% from 47% due to the large number of stacked and laid-up vessels in the Middle East.
Hvide Marine Towing, which operates a fleet of 33 harbor and offshore tugs in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Florida and Gulf coasts, had revenues of $8.0 million versus $10.8 million in the year-ago quarter due mainly to vessel sales and increased competition in the Port of Tampa.
In marine transportation, which includes the company's 10 U.S.-flag Jones Act chemical and product carriers, five of which are double-hulled, revenues declined to $34.6 million from $43.0 million in the year-ago quarter due to the mandated retirement of three of the company's Jones Act tankers and the effect of converting two spot charters to time charter contracts.
"With the continuing OPA 90-mandated, industry-wide retirement of older U.S.-flag tankers -- a process which should benefit HMI, with one of the youngest U.S.- flag fleets, including five double-hull, state-of-the-art tankers -- rates should see a significant improvement going forward,'' commented Kurz.
The company has applied for relisting on the Nasdaq National Market. Its stock currently trades on the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board under the symbol HVDM.
As part of its worldwide restructuring and cost-reduction program, Hvide plans to close its Sharjah shipyard in the Middle East when its current lease expires on December 31.
Sharjah "is no longer a strategic fit and that there is sufficient third-party shipyard space available in the region to meet our needs,'' commented Kurz.
FGH still reporting losses, but "now at optimum size"
Announcing third-quarter 2000 results for the period ending September 30, 2000, Friede Goldman Halter, Inc. reported a net loss of $9.4 million, or $0.19 per fully diluted share, on revenue of $162.2 million. In the comparable 1999 period, the company reported a net loss of $8.5 million, or $0.36 per fully diluted share. Results for the current period incorporate the results of Halter Marine Group, which was acquired by Friede Goldman International in a stock-for-stock merger on November 3, 1999.
FGH says its Engineered Products and Vessels segments reported profit from operations for the quarter. However, the Offshore segment made an operating loss of $4.0 million on revenues of $88.6 million mainly due to cost overruns on existing contracts.
FGH's backlog totaled $403.5 million at September 30, 2000 and consisted of $171.3 million from the Offshore segment, $144.1 million from the Vessels segment and $88.1 million from the Engineered Products segment. The $403.5 million figure does not include approximately $53.0 million in contracts that were announced in October.
"We've had several recent significant events,'' said CEO and president John Alford. "First, the completion of $110.0 million of financing and the sale of our boat repair yards improved our financial condition. Second, the backlog announced in the last two months and the projects currently being negotiated, are indications that market conditions are improving. We had expected this increase in activity to develop earlier and this is reflected in our results. With commodity prices remaining strong, we expect to see increased activity as we move into 2001. Third, we have completed significant consolidation through reduction in the number of our facilities. We feel we are now at the optimum size to sustain anticipated improved market conditions."
Norwegian union backs Gulf unionization push
A campaign to unionize maritime workers in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico has won support from a large and influential European labor organization.
The Norwegian Oil and Petrochemical Workers Union (NOPEF) released a statement sharply critical of the anti-labor policies of one American maritime company -- Trico Marine Services of Houma, La -- and supporting the broader international effort to extend full labor rights to the men and women working in the Gulf of Mexico oil sector.
NOPEF's criticism of Trico comes in the wake of a Sept. 27 "International Day of Action"' in which activists in a half dozen countries protested Trico Marine's dismissal of workers who support Offshore Mariners United (OMU), a new organization for marine employees in the Gulf of Mexico. Demonstrations were held outside Trico facilities in the United States, The United Kingdom, Norway, Brazil, and Trinidad.
Offshore Mariners United is a project of five American maritime unions -- the American Maritime Officers, the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, the National Maritime Union, the Marine Engineers' Beneficial Association, and the Seafarers International Union -- plus the AFL-CIO, and the ITF. It says its aimed is "assisting mariners in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico fight for a union to bring them the dignity, justice and respect they deserve"
"We are deeply grateful for the support from NOPEF and other organizations around the world,'' said OMU Field Director Dave Eckstein. ``American companies like Trico operate in many different areas of the world and we will take our fight for justice to every one of them, if necessary,'' he said.
NOPEF's support carries special meaning, Eckstein added, because Trico Marine has major operations in the Norwegian sector of the North Sea oil fields. OMU's campaign is also being supported by other organizations active in the North Sea, he continued, including the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), a London-based alliance of transportation trade unions from around the world.
NOPEF's support for OMU was overwhelmingly approved by a vote during the union's national congress last month.
NOPEF represents more than 13,000 men and women employed in the Norwegian oil and gas industry, including many maritime workers employed directly in the offshore drilling and production facilities in the North Sea. NOPEF is a member of the Norwegian Federation of Trade Unions, the umbrella group representing about 800,000 Norwegian trade union members.
New CEO for Stolt-Nielsen
Stolt-Nielsen S.A. has appointed Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen (35) as CEO effective December 1. He succeeds the company's founder, Jacob Stolt-Nielsen, who held this post in SNSA and its predecessor companies for 41 years.
The appointment of Niels G. Stolt-Nielsen as CEO of SNSA is part of the company's long-term management succession plan. Following Christopher J. Wright's forthcoming retirement at the end of 2001, Jacob B. Stolt-Nielsen will take over his position as Chief Operating Officer.
Jacob Stolt-Nielsen will continue to serve as SNSA's chairman and as chairman of its principal operating subsidiaries including the publicly traded Stolt Offshore S.A.
New group of Indonesian pirates
The Maritime Security Council is alerting members to a Malaysian newspaper report saying that Malaysian marine police are combating a new group of Indonesian pirates. It has emerged barely two weeks after a group of six was crippled on October 13 in the Straits of Malacca.
The Star newspaper says the new group consists of 20 armed members and operates with three speedboats. Since October 26 it has attacked eight merchant ships in the waters near Pulau Undan, Malacca and Tanjung Tohor, Johor.
Three of these attempts were foiled by alert crew who used high-pressure hoses to deter the pirates from boarding. But five ships were successfully boarded and robbed of cash and valuables. No physical assaults on crew were reported.
Marine Police commander Muhammad Muda said the unit special task force had identified the group and was working on a plan to apprehend the culprits.
"We believe we will be able to get them soon," he said."To facilitate the operation, we are deploying high_speed strike craft which are on loan to us from a Malaysian shipyard,,'' he told the Star.
Muhammad urged vessels to be alert and continue to mount antipiracy watch rounds and to switch on their deck lights while transiting the waters between Pulau Pisang, Johor and Tanjung Tuan, Malacca.
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