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Costamare To Continue Fleet Growth With Newbuilds,Acquisitions-Executive

05/03/2012 | 09:24am US/Eastern

Greek shipping company Costamare Inc. (>> Costamare Inc) will probably continue to grow through new builds and acquisitions and it remains optimistic about the global containership market, a company executive said Thursday.

"We've recently done some acquisitions and will continue to seek opportunistic buys," Chief Financial Officer Gregory Zikos said, adding that the company has enough cash to buy more ships in future.

At Dec. 31, Costamare's cash balances was about $144 million while its undrawn credit facilities were about $153 million. Costamare also issued a public offering of its common stock in March that raised about $100 million.

"We'll look at everything as long as returns are forthcoming," Zikos said, noting that, historically, the company's return on equity has been close to 30%. The preferred rate of return for shareholders is normally 15%-20%.

The company would consider vessels that are much older and have a greater capacity than its existing average fleet, he said. He added that, for new builds, it is important the vessel be debt free towards the end of its charter license as this will help reduce financial risks resulting from volatility in charter rates.

Zikos said the outlook for Europe's containership business is improving due to increased trade on certain routes. "We won't be surprised if the charter rates, especially for the bigger vessels, edge upwards through the year," he said.

Costamare's customers include A.P Moller-Maersk, COSCO and Evergreen Marine. Although many shipping companies are facing financial pressure due to over-capacity, high docking prices and sluggish demand, Costamare hasn't faced payment issues from its clients so far, Zikos said. "We are extremely happy with the quality of our customers," he added.

-By Surabhi Sahu, Dow Jones Newswires; +65 6415 4086; surabhi.sahu@dowjones.com

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