Once again the fleet achieved a high utilization rate of 98% versus 97% in the first quarter of 2012. True to our policy of having a good portion of the fleet's in flexible charters, approximately two thirds of available days this first quarter were capable of capturing such upticks and achieved rates that are reflected in our results.
To further improve the fleet's cash generating capabilities, management will strive to place more vessels under short to medium term contracts, ideally with profit sharing provisions, once such market improvements show signs of stability, something that slowly seems to be happening. An example of such activity has been the fixture of nine of our product tankers that have been concluded so far this year, with minimum gross revenues of $117.0 million over an average period of 2.5 years.
Cash generation and preservation has and will continue to be our guiding principle in taking the Company forward. As at the end of the first quarter 2013 our cash balances were at a healthy $139 million and have increased substantially by our recent placement of $50.0 million Cumulative Redeemable Perpetual Preferred Shares.
In terms of growth and beyond the Company's customary and dominant presence in product tankers and crude carriers, management will remain focused on LNG and shuttle tankers for accretive expansion.
"TEN's return to profitability, is a result of our modern fleet composition, our flexible long-term employment strategy, our cost containment policy and our ability to maintain and build relationships with high quality charterers around the world," stated Mr. Nikolas P. Tsakos, President & Chief Executive Officer of TEN. "We do believe that both product and crude markets have turned the corner and our fleet, in both of these sectors is well positioned to take advantage of current and expected market improvements. Also, our exposure in the high-end LNG and shuttle tanker markets provides further growth to our bottom line," Mr. Tsakos concluded.
As previously announced, today, Friday, May 24, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time, TEN will host a conference call to review first quarter 2013 results as well as management's outlook for the business. The call, which will be hosted by TEN's senior management, may contain information beyond what is included in this press release.
Participants should dial into the call 10 minutes before the scheduled time using the following numbers: 1 866 819 7111 (US Toll Free Dial In), 0800 953 0329 (UK Toll Free Dial In) or +44 (0)1452 542 301 (Standard International Dial In). Please quote "Tsakos" to the operator.
A telephonic replay of the conference call will be available until Friday, May 31, 2013 by dialing 1 866 247 4222 (US Toll Free Dial In), 0800 953 1533 (UK Toll Free Dial In) or +44 (0)1452 550 000 (Standard International Dial In). Access Code: 90295809#
Simultaneous Slides and Audio Webcast:
There will also be a simultaneous live, and then archived, slides webcast of the conference call, available through TEN's website (www.tenn.gr). The slides webcast will also provide details related to fleet composition and deployment and other related company information. This presentation will be available on the Company's corporate website reception page at www.tenn.gr. Participants for the live webcast should register on the website approximately 10 minutes prior to the start of the webcast.
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