Oldendorff Carriers, with its fleet of around 500 bulk vessels in operation at any given time, is able to present another profitable year in the midst of probably the most severe crisis ever in the dry bulk industry.

As such, the Lübeck-based carrier, owned by the Oldendorff family, has maintained black figures during the last three years in which the market as a whole has only gone from bad to worse.

A spokesman of the German shipping group confirms the result to ShippingWatch and explains how Oldendorff landed a surplus in 2015:

"Despite all the gloom in the bulk markets, Oldendorff had a profitable year in 2015. The combination of being a strong private company, able to move very fast on freight and sale and purchase decisions, along with substantial market information and research, continue to be the basis of our operations," says the spokesman.

Oldendorff sees a number of uncertainties and risks for the global bulk industry which will challenge all stakeholders including the German behemoth:

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"We do not expect much improvement in 2016; the same political and economic uncertainties that have dogged the market in 2015 remain in place in 2016. There has been some conversion of new building bulk carriers to tankers and container ships, and some postponement and cancellation of new buildings, but there are still far too many new buildings being delivered for the weak market to absorb."

In what all industry players had hoped would become a turning point in the industry, 2015 ended like another very poor year adding to the previous disappointing year.

"The bulk market in 2015 went from bad to worse. As a result of an economic slowdown in China, Russia, the Middle East, Canada, Europe and South America, the bulk market and commodity prices tumbled in 2015. This slowdown corresponded with a relatively large bulk order book, artificially inflated by misguided public money. The consequential oversupply of vessels and weak demand has hit hard in all segments of the bulk market. What has been unusual about 2015 is that the normal volatility range has been subdued. Where bulk markets have often varied by tens of thousands of dollars in the four quarters of a year, which was not the case in 2015. The market went down and bumped along the bottom all year," the spokesman tells ShippingWatch.

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Oldendorff has adapted its business and revamped some operations to meet the challenges. Among these initiatives is the expansion of the carrier's regional office in Dubai.

Going forward, two parameters will remain key focus to Oldendorff: Counterpart monitoring and strong finances.

"The crisis in bulk markets is very serious. Choosing your counterparts has become much more important. We make a big effort to know our counterparts financial position and to understand the risk of their business model. With a large presence in the bulk markets globally, the challenge is to collect, process and distribute information efficiently. Our open plan offices and open communication style is very effective in processing and distributing information," the Oldendorff spokesman says.

The current fleet includes 478 vessels, about 12 percent of them owned or Bareboat Chartered, the rest on Time Charter. Oldendorff belongs to the relatively few shipping companies with a high concentration of large Capesize and Newcastlemax vessels, the segment which several competitors sold off last year as the giant bulk carriers are not profitable in the present market. The German company currently lists 127 Capesize vessels in its fleet.

The remaining newbuilding program consists of 19 vessels spread between Handysize, Ultramax and Newcastlemax. Some of the new buildings listed on the Company website are understood to be chartered on floating rate basis and not owned. These new vessels will be delivered over the next 4 years.

Oldendorff Carriers does not publish its financial results.

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Oldendorff has no ceiling, dress code or executive offices