ATHENS, GREECE, Wednesday July 1, 2009.Â STEALTHGAS INC. (NASDAQ: GASS) (the âCompanyâ), a ship-owning company serving primarily the liquified petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry, announced today that on June 10, 2009 it completed the sale of the Gas Sophie, a 1995 built 3,500 cbm LPG carrier, to an unaffiliated entity based in the Far East. On June 30, 2009, the Company also completed the previously announced acquisition of the Gas Exelero, a 2009 built 3,300 Fully Pressurized LPG carrier, which was immediately deployed under a one year time charter to a major Far Eastern gas operator.
The Company also announced the following new charter arrangements:
Commencing from the beginning of June, the Gas Courchevel has been time chartererd for between two to four months to a major LPG operator.
Commencing from the beginning of July, the Gas Defiance has been time chartered for three months to an Australian oil company.
Commencing from mid-July, the Gas Czar has been time chartered for three months with a further three month option to a Far Eastern based owner/operator.
Commencing from the beginning of July, the time charter for the Gas Fortune has been extended for a further month.
The average time charter equivalent rate for the above four charters is $245,375 per calendar month or $8,072 per day.
Commenting on the various announcements CEO Harry Vafias said âWe are pleased to have secured the sale of the Gas Sophie at a price of $6.5 million.Â Notwithstanding that the 22 months that we owned the vessel covered a period with one of the steepest downturns in the shipping sector, the price we obtained for the vessel was just 13% less than we had paid for her nearly two years ago. This, I believe, demonstrates the underlying value and strength of our company and also illustrates how steady values remain in our core handy size LPG sector while charter rates also remain relatively stable as evidenced by the average rate quoted above for the time charters we have recently negotiated.
I am also pleased that we have added another brand new vessel to the fleet, the Gas Exelero, a sister ship of the Gas Astrid that joined us in April.Â The Gas Exelero is time chartered for one year to the same charterer as for the Gas Astrid.Â With the sale of the Gas Sophie and the acquisition of this new ship we continue to improve the age profile and quality of our fleet.
Finally the new charter arrangements we have announced today again underscore the steadiness of the rates we are achieving in our core market despite the adverse prevailing economic conditions.â
In addition, the Company filed its annual report on Form 20-F for the year ended December 31, 2008 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on June 18, 2009, and has posted this document on its website at www.stealthgas.com under the heading âInvestorelations-SEC Filingsâ or at http://www.stealthgas.com/investitor-relations/sec.html?Itemid=110.
Fleet Profile and Fleet Deployment:
The table below show the Companyâs fleet development and deployment as of today:
LPG Carrier Fleet
Product Tanker Fleet
â¢Â Â Â F.P.: Fully-Pressurized
â¢Â Â Â S.R.: Semi-Refrigerated
â¢Â Â Â M.R.: Medium Range
(1)Â Â Â Earliest date charters could expire.Â Most charters include options to shorten or extend their term.
(2)Â Â Â Birgit Kosan will be redelivered to us in October 2009 upon payment of a cancellation fee to us of $192,000.
(3)Â Â Â Gas Prophet has for the three-year duration of bareboat charter been renamed the M.T. Ming Long.
(4)Â Â Â Gas Eternity has for the duration of its bareboat charter been renamed the M.T. Yu Tian 9.Â Â Â Â
(5)Â Â Â Gas Natalie, upon her delivery, continued to be deployed under an existing bareboat charter to a major international LPG operator that was scheduled to expire in September 2011; however, the charterer has exercised an option to cancel the existing charter in September 2009 upon the payment to us of a cancellation fee in the amount of $336,000.
(6)Â Â Â Stealth Argentina a 50,500 deadweight M.R. type Product Carrier is expected to be delivered in November 2009. Upon her delivery she will be deployed under a three year bareboat charter.
About STEALTHGAS INC.
Headquartered in Athens, Greece, STEALTHGAS INC. is a ship-owning company primarily serving the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) sector of the international shipping industry.Â STEALTHGAS INC. currently has a fleet of 40 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 176,999 cubic meters (cbm) and three M.R. product tankers.Â In addition, the company has entered into agreements to acquire five new building LPG carriers with expected delivery from February 2011 through May 2012 and one resale new building M.R. product carrier with expected delivery in November 2009.Â Once these acquisitions are completed, STEALTHGAS INC.âS fleet will be composed of 45 LPG carriers with a total capacity of 206,999 cubic meters (cbm) and four M.R. product tankers with a total capacity of 190,500 deadweight tons (dwt).Â STEALTHGAS INC.âS shares are listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market and trade under the symbol âGASSâ.
Matters discussed in this release may constitute forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements reflect our current views with respect to future events and financial performance and may include statements concerning plans, objectives, goals, strategies, future events or performance, and underlying assumptions and other statements, which are other than statements of historical facts. The forward-looking statements in this release are based upon various assumptions, many of which are based, in turn, upon further assumptions, including without limitation, managementâs examination of historical operating trends, data contained in our records and other data available from third parties. Although STEALTHGAS INC. believes that these assumptions were reasonable when made, because these assumptions are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies which are difficult or impossible to predict and are beyond our control, STEALTHGAS INC. cannot assure you that it will achieve or accomplish these expectations, beliefs or projections. Important factors that, in our view, could cause actual results to differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements include the strength of world economies and currencies, general market conditions, including changes in charter hire rates and vessel values, charter counterparty performance, changes in demand that may affect attitudes of time charterers to scheduled and unscheduled dry dockings, changes in STEALTHGAS INCâs operating expenses, including bunker prices, dry-docking and insurance costs, ability to obtain financing and comply with covenants in our financing arrangements, or actions taken by regulatory authorities, potential liability from pending or future litigation, domestic and international political conditions, potential disruption of shipping routes due to accidents and political events or acts by terrorists.
Risks and uncertainties are further described in reports filed by STEALTHGAS INC. with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Visit our website at www.stealthgas.com
Andrew J. Simmons
Chief Financial Officer