The recession has apparently saved shipmanagement companies' bacon. A couple of years ago the dollar strengthened, increasing shipmanagers' earnings by as much as a third almost overnight. On top of that, we have been told by shipmanager clients that their cash-rich shipowner clients who called the market right have been buying up cheap tonnage which are swelling their managed fleets. One S&P/ship finance lawyer we spoke to only this morning said he has billed as many hours in the first six month of this year as he did for the whole of last year (no lawyer jokes please)!
According to one manager, even if they are not making much money with them, owners are playing the shipowning equivalent of the contango game, buying ships cheaply and, as long as they can service them and not lose too much money, waiting for prices to go up.
Some shipmanagers have told us they have had their best year ever, which is quite a surprise.