The WorkBoat Composite Index barely squeezed out a gain in June, but operators enjoyed a good month. While the overall Index increased less than 1%, the Operators Index gained almost 6%. The Philadelphia Oil Service Index gained about 7%.

For the month, gainers topped losers 20-11. Operators accounted for 15 of the winners. Only four operators lost ground in June.

Houston-based Kirby Corp. continued to gain ground in June, hitting a 52-week high before ending the month at $117.14. The barge operator gained about 6% and has had a healthy year despite its March 22 accident and spill in the Houston Ship Channel. 

In the first quarter, Kirby reported equipment utilization in the 90% to 95% range for its inland and coastal barges. The company said in its first quarter earnings call that demand in all coastal product markets is strong. As a result, Kirby exercised an option to construct a second 185,000-bbl. coastal tank barge and 10,000-hp tug on the West Coast at Gunderson Marine and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders

Kirby also announced during its May earnings call that it would build two new 155,000-bbl. coastal articulated tug and barge units for $125 million to $145 million. The expected delivery dates for the ATBs is mid-2016.

“The year has begun on very solid footing with 2014 forecast to be our fourth consecutive year of record operating results,” said David Grzebinski, Kirby’s president and CEO. “Our balance sheet is strong, our excellent cash flow allows us to continue to build new inland and coastal equipment as well as to continue to pay down debt, and we still remain optimistic for potential acquisition.”— David Krapf