Euronav (EURN) is the largest public company in the crude oil shipping business. The industry has taken a hit over the last two years amid overcapacity, but Euronav is a terrific operator that has remained profitable through this period. Nevertheless, it trades at a massive discount to book value and a P/E of just 6.
The company's chartering strategy employs a mix of short and long-term contracts with its customers, exposing it to some risk of spot rates while at the same locking itself into some contracts lasting a few years.
Because of the commodity nature of the shipping industry, however, I
would take only a small position in this stock, as part of a larger basket of cheap but levered firms that don't completely control their destinies. While I believe the odds in this case are in
favour of the investor, some event outside of the company's control
(e.g. war, e.g. over-ordering by competitors) could put the whole industry at
risk and "sink" everybody, particularly as every participant uses some
form of leverage to finance operations (just like in the banking/insurance
The main idea here is that overcapacity leads to bad pricing (which is where we are now) which leads to
lack of new ships over the long term, which eventually leads to
recovering prices. The fact that Euronav can stay profitable even during the bad times bodes well for the future. Buying the companies that are the least risky
during times of overcapacity can lead to outsized gains.
Disclosure: Author has a long position in shares of EURN