Can’t Make Money In Shipping

Well, I can’t, but maybe you are better at it. Before going on vacation I closed my Diana Containerships (DCIX) position with a huge loss of more than 60%. 

When I bought it in March 2013, it looked like a reasonable investment. The world Economy was recovering, and trade, especially trade in finished goods, was booming. Most finished goods are shipped in containers, therefore should be good for container shipping companies, right? Here comes DCIX. Unlike others it’s very transparent. You can go to the company’s website and see current and near future ship employment, with rates and commissions. Company usually buys ships which are already employed, choosing moment right, or so it seems.

What I didn’t think about was competition. There are a lot of ships entering service right now, more than enough to carry increasing trade. And, despite increasing trade, rates are going down. Right now they are at the point of zero margin. And this isn’t the end of it. I decided to sell DCIX when I saw this article.

The problem isn’t that Maersk is building the biggest container ship in the world; 9 of them, right now. This means that shipping capacity of post-panamax ships (those which can’t travel through Panama Canal) is increasing a lot. That’s the segment in which DCIX was trying to make money lately.

Lesson learned. When analyzing any business, main attention should be paid to supply and demand in the industry, everything else comes after that. Demand might be increasing, but if supply is increasing faster, there is no money to be made.


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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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