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Why Handysize shipping?

As the workhorses of dry bulk shipping, the Handysize segment is intrinsically defensive, with constantly growing demand due to transporting basic necessity goods such as food, fertiliser and building materials.

Shipping is the pillar of global trade and remains the most efficient mode of transportation for mass bulk commodities

Shipping continues to be the most cost-effective means of transporting essential commodities and accounts for 90% of all international trade by volume.

Attractive market dynamics

The Handysize Market is characterised by constrained world fleet growth and strong demand for shipping capacity due to generally improving global economic conditions and due to the nature of Handysize cargoes which serve basic population needs.

Demand is resilient and diversified

The group of cargoes which primarily make up Handysize vessel cargoes are called ‘Minor Bulks’ with demand largely driven by GDP and population growth. Demand has rebounded since the first half of 2020 with research analysts predicting strong 2021 and 2022 trade growth of 6.4% and 3.1% respectively in Minor Bulks.

Handysize vessels are relatively small in dimension and carrying capacity amongst dry bulk vessels (a typical Handysize vessel ranges from 28,000 to 39,000 dead-weight tonnes). They are ‘Geared’ meaning that they have on-board cranes to self-load and discharge, which is particularly attractive where shoreside infrastructure is not as developed. Due to these features and their shallow draughts, Handysize vessels are able to access a far greater number of ports around the world than larger ships.

The characteristics of flexibility, versatility and port accessibility, coupled with resilient underlying demand that is typically less dependent on discretionary spending, result in a natural diversification of risk, barrier to entry and downside protection for the Handysize segment.

Supply growth at historically low levels

Supply of the Handysize fleet is forecast to grow by only 2.7%* in 2021, in contrast to Minor Bulk demand growth of 6.4%. With shipyard order books essentially full until 2024, this is expected to support charter rates.

New Handysize ordering is at its lowest in almost 20 years with an uptick in orders unlikely mainly due to reduced yard capacity, low margins for small ships, lack of financing, increase in newbuild price quotes, and lack of future-proofed designs. We believe that the industry-wide focus on environmental concerns has also led to a pull-back in capital investment in newbuild vessels.

Environmental regulations reducing supply and discouraging new ship ordering

In terms of future environmental operating parameters, the marine transportation industry is in the early developmental stages for future propulsion systems (which may include a variety of fuels) with uncertainty over future ship design to meet lower carbon emission standards. Given the long expected operating life of a vessel, we believe that regulatory and technological change may continue to constrain newbuild orders until there is a technological breakthrough which is widely applicable and commercially viable for our vessel type.

*Since the June quarterly update Clarksons have changed the size description for a Handysize vessel to now include dry bulk carriers built 2014 onwards with dwt 40,000 to 44,999. Changes to classifications are effected occasionally by researchers and brokers in order to better reflect the fleet dynamics of the day.