Greece’s Safe Bulkers has become the latest shipowner to aim spare cash at buying back its own shares in buoyant markets.

The New York-listed owner of 49 large bulkers has authorised a programme to acquire 5m shares from time to time.

This would mean a spend of $20.4m at the closing price of $4.08 in New York on Tuesday.

The tranche represents 4.1% of the outstanding shares and 6.9% of the free float.

Purchases will be made in the open market, using existing cash resources, Safe Bulkers said.

The owner is the latest in a line of operators to return profits to investors in this way.

Greek container line Danaos Corp has lined up a $100m buyback scheme after seeing earnings soar in record markets.

US tanker player Overseas Shipholding Group is also looking to repurchase nearly $11m of its own stock as it approaches profitable territory in improving Jones Act markets.

Big jump in earnings

And Norwegian mini-bulker specialist Wilson said it is targeting up to $2.1m of its shares after a strong first-quarter performance.

For Safe Bulkers, 2022 has begun in the same manner as a healthy 2021 finished.

Net profit for the first quarter, a traditionally weak earnings period for bulker owners, rose to $36.4m, a 71% leap from the same period of 2021. The result was underpinned by a 24% increase in net revenue to $77.7m.

As a result, the Athens-based owner reaffirmed a dividend of $0.05 per share.

The company has cut its debt by about one-third year on year to $409m. Liabilities are almost entirely covered by the scrap value of its fleet, which Safe estimates at about $395m.