Belships’ expanded fleet and a strong spot market helped the Norwegian shipowner to book an upsized profit for the third quarter, trouncing analysts’ estimates. The Oslo-listed firm made a net profit of $35.2m during the period, up from a loss of $4.2m in the same quarter last year. Freight markets for supramax and ultramax bulkers hit the highest levels since 2008 during the third quarter.

Belships’ expanded fleet, which now numbers 30 supramax and ultramax bulkers, meant it had 25% more active days compared to a year ago. The shipowner will pay out NOK 0.55 ($0.06) per share, equal to 64% of its third-quarter net profit, adjusted for non-controlling interests. Much of the net result was generated by Lighthouse, Belships’ in-house commercial platform that handles cargo trading. Lighthouse contributed $23.2m of Belships’ third quarter Ebitda of $57.1m.

Net freight revenue for Belships’ owned vessels was $106m during the third quarter, compared to $43.7m a year ago. Its owned ships earned average time-charter equivalent rates of $25,378 per day during the third quarter, a big increase on the $9,067 per day during the period in 2020.

This quarter, Belships has around 77% of its available vessel days booked at about $29,000 per day net. Looking to 2022, the shipowner said it has covered approximately 42% of vessel days in the next four quarters at about $25,500 net per day. The shipowner has fixed a few of its ships on period deals in recent months but revealed that a two-year contract has been broken off. In late October, Belships fixed the 63,300-dwt Belpareil (built 2015) on a 23- to 25-month period charter at $25,500 per day. But the shipowner said on Friday that the contract with the unnamed charterer has been cancelled due to delays on the vessel’s current voyage.

Belships said its outlook is optimistic, based on the low number of vessel deliveries, the “historically low” orderbook for ultramaxes and “stable demand“. “We will continue to pursue opportunities for further growth whilst being selective and disciplined in the use of our capital,” the company said in its report.

Belships exceeded consensus estimates across the board, but equities analysts said they expect a softer fourth quarter now that freight markets have come off. Analyst Mindaugas Cekanavicius said Norne Research maintains its positive view on the company but will adjust its estimates for earnings from Lighthouse Navigation, the part of Belships’ business that is most exposed to volatile freight markets. “We could have expected the record-high numbers to be reported for the Belships’ dry cargo shipping segment, but the Lighthouse Navigation segment significantly outperformed 2Q despite the conservative guidance,” he said in a note to clients on Friday. “The inherent lag in Belships’ business signals for a very strong short-term future regardless of the negative rate development we have encountered over the last few weeks.”

Fearnley Securities said Belships has “played the cycle to perfection” in terms of fleet expansion and net-asset-value (NAV) growth, despite its stock often trading below NAV per share. “However, we expect a substantially softer result from [Lighthouse Navigation] with the company saying it expects to make provisions for potential loss-making contracts if the reduction in FFA continues towards year-end,” analysts said on Friday.