There are few better signs of confidence in a market than when a shipping company sells off one of its oldest vessels to immediately replace it with one of its youngest.

Low-profile Danish bulker company Janchart Shipping gave just such a sign, with founder Jan Joergensen confirming to TradeWinds two separate ship transactions that lower the average age of its fleet.

Clients of the company agreed to sell the 28,500-dwt bulk carrier Meray Glyfada (built 2002) for about $10m to undisclosed buyers. At the same time, Janchart purchased the 34,100-dwt bulker Ionic Huntress (built 2012), a much younger and bigger ship, for between $19m and $19.5m.

Broking sources put the price level for the Ionic Huntress at the upper limit of the range.

Ionic Shipping, the vessel’s previous owner, probably picked a good time to sell the South Korean-built ship. The Ionic Huntress is scheduled to undergo a special survey soon.

According to several brokers, Ionic sold the sistership Ionic Halo as well two months ago at a lower price of between $18.5m and $19m.

A deal for the Ionic Halo has not materialised. However, its reported discount to the price achieved now by the sistership Ionic Huntress is characteristic of the continuing rude health of the bulker sale-and-purchase market.

“The secondhand market is providing plenty of distraction,” Athens-based Doric Shipbrokers said in their latest report. In several cases, Doric added that vessels obtain “ambitious numbers and set benchmarks”.

Price appreciation has exceeded the 10% mark for some bulkers — especially smaller ones that continue earning in the spot market as much as bigger vessels such as capesizes do, analysts at Allied Research said.

Runner-up gets the deal

Potential handysize buyers often get ahead of themselves and make offers that they ultimately cannot come up with.

In one such case, an unidentified owner pledged to spend $17m in an admiralty sale in Gibraltar last month for the 32,200-dwt Zeus IV (built 2009).

However, according to a US-based broker, the transaction failed and the next-highest bidder eventually got the pick at a much lower $15.8m.

Owners of previously distressed assets have found a good opportunity to divest vessels that they have been holding on to for years.

The 34,000-dwt tweendecker sisterships Aramis and Portos (both built 2011) have reportedly found buyers at an undisclosed price with a time-charter attached.

Whatever the value, it is certainly a multiple of the $6m each ship was worth in early 2016 when clients of Greece’s Interunity Corp picked up the pair.

Rising ship values appear even higher for Japanese owners who get more bang out for their dollar when converting them to the rapidly depreciating Japanese yen.

Imabari-based Kifune Kaiun is said to have disposed of the 28,300-dwt Irongate (built 2015) to Far Eastern buyers for about $18m. The same ship had been reported sold in July last year for $13.9m.

According to several broker reports, Singapore-based Swire Bulk offloaded a pair of Chinese-built handysizes as well — the 39,900-dwt Eredine (built 2014) for $24.5m to Canada-based buyers and the one-year-younger Eriskay at an unidentified price to Europeans.