Eagle Bulk Shipping has varied from its usual strategy of hedging through freight derivatives by booking a rare physical time charter. New York-listed Eagle has fixed out the 63,301-dwt Madison Eagle (built 2013) for a minimum 12 months at $32,000 per day, yielding $9m in Ebitda into the second quarter of 2023, chief executive Gary Vogel told analysts on the owner’s quarterly earnings call on Friday.

While Vogel mentioned the charter in his presentation, the issue was revived by analyst Magnus Fyhr of HC Wainwright during a discussion of a potential reduction in grain production later this year owing to Russia’s war on Ukraine. In comments like those of counterpart John Wobensmith of Genco Shipping & Trading on Thursday, Vogel said there is a likelihood of lower overall supply but an open question whether longer tonne-miles created by dislocations might offset the dip. Fyhr questioned whether Eagle might seek more period coverage into the year’s second half, but Vogel didn’t encourage the notion.

Noting Eagle’s general preference to use derivatives, Vogel said Eagle had 11 ships hedged on that basis plus another physical fixture of five months dating from April. Vogel also noted the current strength of the spot market. Eagle has just fixed a supramax at more than $40,000 per day exclusive of benefits from its exhaust-gas scrubber on a back-haul cargo from Japan to Europe, and he said front-haul voyages from Brazil to Asia are “in the mid-$40s”. “We like the spot market,” he said. “But we do have forward cover and will continue to do so.”

The first quarter ended with the Baltic Supramax Index, which Eagle regularly betters, around $31,000 per day, and the forward curve for the remainder of 2022 is in that region as well, he said. Eagle said it had been able to book 83% of days in the current quarter at a time charter equivalent rate of $29,300 a day – an improvement over the $27,407 average it generated in the first three months. Eagle, based in Stamford, Connecticut, is one of the world’s largest owners of mid-sized tonnage with 53 supramaxes and ultramaxes.