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Excel Maritime Carriers (EXM)

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We downgrade our recommendation on Excel Maritime Carriers (EXM) to Underperform ahead of its fourth quarter of 2011 financial results. We believe the drybulk shipping industry has a gloomy outlook, facing serious challenges since spot vessel rates collapsed significantly.

The sole reason for this dismal condition is the sheer increase of newbuild ships under operation, which resulted in intense price competition. The spot rates of drybulk vessels have fallen to such low levels that even surging commodity prices in the Asian markets have failed to offset the loss of the vessel owners. We believe continuation of this pricing trend will certainly jeopardize the company's future financials.

In the last couple of quarters, Excel Maritime took a severe hit on its time charter equivalent rate. Additionally, its balance sheet is highly leveraged. We do not find any near-term catalyst.

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