On Wednesday, Houston-based tank barge operator Kirby Corp. announced second-quarter earnings of $38.9 million, or 72 cents a share, compared with $58.1 million, or $1.04 a share, for 2015's second quarter.
Second-quarter revenue was $441.6 million compared with $543.2 million for the 2015 second quarter. Earnings beat estimates by two cents a share, while revenue fell shy of estimates by just over $11 million. The company’s third-quarter earnings per share guidance is 50 cents to 65 cents a share compared with $1.04 earnings per share in the 2015 third quarter. For the full year, Kirby lowered earnings per share guidance to $2.40 to $2.70 from $2.80 to $3.20 previously and $4.11 per share earnings in 2015
David Grzebinski, Kirby’s president and CEO, said second-quarter results were mostly in-line with expectations. The company’s inland marine transportation market benefitted from barges acquired in mid-April and strong utilization levels early in the quarter. However, this was partially offset by a drop in tank barge utilization later in the quarter.
“After a strong start to the second quarter in April, we experienced a modest decline in tank barge utilization into the high-80% range,” Grzebinski said during the company’s earnings call with analysts last week. “The modest decline in utilization was largely attributable to a shortened spring season for agricultural products and soft demand and trading in refinery volumes, which we believe was largely related to high inventory levels.”
Marine transportation revenues for the 2016 second quarter were $378.3 million compared with $425.1 million for the 2015 second quarter. Operating income for the 2016 second quarter was $72.7 million compared with $97 million for the 2015 second quarter. Demand for inland tank barge transportation of petrochemicals was stable, while demand for black oil, crude oil and agricultural chemicals was weaker both on a year-over-year and sequential basis.
“The market continues to adjust in response to excess barge supply that has influenced the market over the past 12 to 18 months,” Joe Pyne, Kirby’s chairman said during the call. “Although a combination of retirements and volume will help bring the market back into balance, the transition has not been as smooth as we hoped it would be.”
Inland utilization fell significantly in July. Pyne said the company has seen aggressive pricing from several carriers. “Such pricing in the market is historically unusual given the market fundamentals have not fundamentally changed that much since the start of the year and summer almost always sees a decline in utilization,” he told analysts. “Pricing at these levels we believe is unsustainable and if it persists will lead to destructive pressure on some less well-capitalized carriers.
Pyne said he expects the inland market to improve later this year, receiving a boost from additional retirements, consolidation, as well as volumes from new chemical plants.