zoomIllustration. Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license Although the product tanker market improved from last year, Italian tanker shipping company d’Amico International Shipping (DIS) closed the first quarter of 2019 with a widened net loss.The company suffered a net loss of USD 5.5 million in Q1 2019, compared to a loss of USD 3.6 million seen in the same period of 2018.However, excluding some non-recurring effects and the application of IFRS 16, a new accounting standard, the results would have been USD 2.4 million better than in the same period of last year, DIS said.Time charter equivalent (TCE) earnings stood at USD 63.9 million in the three-month period ended March 31, 2019, compared to USD 66.3 million in Q1 2018.In terms of spot performance, DIS achieved a daily average spot rate of USD 13,583 in Q1 2019, 7% better than USD 12,726 achieved in Q1 2018 and 26% higher than the overall spot average of last year. This result reflects the improving fundamentals of the product tanker market, as explained by the company.“During the first quarter, we also benefited from 46.4% time-charter coverage at an average daily rate of USD 14,604. We have noticed a growing interest from oil-majors and trading houses for time-charter contracts at increasing levels and this demonstrates leading charterers’ strong belief in the market’s recovery prospects,” Paolo d’Amico, Chairman and CEO of DIS, commented.“Our total blended daily TCE (spot and time-charter) was USD 14,057 in Q1 2019 vs. USD 13,446 of Q1 2018 and USD 12,184 for the full-year 2018,” he added.During the quarter, the company focused on strengthening its financial structure through sale and sale-and-leaseback deals.Specifically, DIS finalized the sale and leaseback of one of its LR1 vessels in January, generating USD 10.2 million. It also agreed the sale of one MR vessel owned by DM Shipping – a JV in which DIS has an indirect interest of 51%, generating USD 12.3 million in net cash at the beginning of April.In addition, the company finalized the sale and leaseback of one of its MR ships, generating USD 9.6 million at the end of April.What is more, the company concluded its equity capital increase in April, amounting to USD 49.8 million.Since 2012, DIS has ordered a total of 22 Eco-design product tankers as part of its USD 755 million fleet renewal program. So far, 21 vessels have been already delivered. The remaining newbuild is expected to be delivered in Q3 2019.“We maintain a very positive outlook on the product tanker market, a view supported almost unanimously by industry analysts and key players,” d’Amico further said.“Demand for seaborne trade of refined oil products is expected to be strong in 2019, driven by a substantial increase in refinery capacity and by the new IMO regulations…, further stimulating demand for our vessels, already from the second half of 2019.”“In addition, the forecasts are positive also on the supply side, with limited annual net fleet growth (below 2%) in the segments we operate in (MRs and LR1s), over the next two years,” he concluded.