Norden made more money out of dry cargo than tankers during the third quarter but will begin to adapt its plans as the tanker sector strengthens and macroeconomic conditions remain volatile.

Chief executive Jan Rindbo told TradeWinds that the success is a testament to the Danish firm’s trading-focused strategy.

“Given that we have a lot of profitable dry cargo cover, and we had this short position where we had more cargo than ships, we’ve earned more money on dry cargo than tankers in the third quarter. But clearly, tanker markets are very strong,” he said.

Norden has just declared another quarterly dividend of DKK 30 ($4.03) per share and has launched a new plan to buy back up to $50m of its securities by February.

“We already have this dividend policy of paying out a minimum 50% of our profit and, rather than waiting until our AGM next year, we thought we might as well pay out a dividend now, as we did in August,” Rindbo said.

Norden owns only about 5% of its fleet, which comprises handysize and MR product tankers and bulkers up to panamax in size. This means less capital expenditure and more available cash to return to investors.

“Just this year — including this dividend that we will pay out later in November — we’ve paid out $300m in dividends,” Rindbo said. “And then we have the share buybacks that come on top of that, where we have paid out — including the one that we are initiating now — $135m.”

This year has been volatile but, according to Rindbo, oil is the key thing to watch going forward.

“One of the things that is certainly on our radar is that we are looking into a weaker global economy — this is also one of the drivers behind a lower dry cargo market. And that will also hit oil demand,” he said.

“Another concern in the oil markets could be the oil production — Opec has cut production. There’s also, I guess, a risk that once Europe stops importing oil from Russia, then Russian oil production will not find a market and therefore they will have to reduce also their exports.

“But I think the market — and also Norden — believes the fact that Europe will have to buy oil now from further away. That sort of overwrites the downside scenarios that we look at for oil demand and oil production.”

Nevertheless, this scenario is something that Norden is factoring into its trading strategy, especially as tanker spot rates and asset values have risen higher this year.

Asset prices

“It’s also why we gradually will start to take some cover — not that our base case is less optimistic, but just the fact that that with strong increases in asset prices have gone up by 20%, in the third quarter, and MR tanker time-charter period rates were also up a lot over the period,” Rindbo said.

“It has become more attractive, I think, for us to start maybe gradually reducing some risk or looking for some cover also on tankers — because you can lock in now high rates, not just for 2023 but actually out to 2025.”


Norden’s bottom line was $243.1m for the third quarter, up from $65m in profit during the same period last year.

Much of the quarterly result was generated by Norden’s freight services & trading division, which oversees its operated fleet. The unit generated $190m in profit during the third quarter, up year on year from $57m.

Norden’s assets & logistics business, which looks after its owned and leased vessels and its logistics activities, generated a profit of $53m during the third quarter, of which $20m was profit from the sale of vessels.

The company expects an annual profit of between $650m and $730m for this year.

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As for bulkers, freight rates may have disappointed this year but Rindbo said demand has been slightly stronger than anticipated.

He said the growth in tonnage supply caused by the easing of port congestion is what has applied the most pressure to dry cargo markets. The weaker outlook for the global economy is also weighing heavily on commodity demand growth.

“I still think that spot rates are not at a great level, but at a decent level,” Rindbo said. “Of course, we’ve seen the forward curves coming down a bit so I daresay that there’s probably a bit more downside to come still, we believe, in this market in the months to come.”

Norden’s sale-and-purchase activities will begin to pivot too. The company has been active as a seller of bulkers this year, offloading six such vessels as well as four MR tankers.

“I think it’s fair to say that there’ll probably be fewer sales, fewer opportunities to sell ships at attractive prices,” Rindbo said. “On the other hand, of course, with large [price] increases on tankers, it has become more attractive to sell tankers.

“We are opportunistic and we look at opportunities, but as we may gradually reduce exposure, we may sell a few vessels as well on the tanker side.”