SUPERYACHTS AND FREIGHT CAR LOADINGS
AND THE WINNER MAY BE RETRO
Early returns from the Cannes Boat Show seem a bit disappointing, unless you hate crowds, a news item commenting on no feet on lots of empty red carpet. More reliably on that subject, as he left the Cannes show for his base in Italy, I received a text from a trusted business colleague and friend in the industry.
“Very slow,” he said.
Interestingly, this came almost simultaneously with a press release titled, “The French nautical industry set to take advantage of an improving market, “concluding, “The 2009/2010 season therefore opens with a feeling that the worst of the downturn has passed, and there are grounds for optimism going into the autumn trade shows.”
And then on the other side of the Atlantic (and the socio-economic spectrum), the US National Marine Distributors Association's annual member survey reported that a slight majority of those marine distributors who participated expect accessory sales to be up in 2010.
Of course, neither Cannes nor the NMDA focus on superyachts which, with along with champagne and lobster, are the raison d'être of the Monaco Yacht Show.
THE ECONOMIST Magazine has its now famous Big Mac Index which, “... seeks to make exchange-rate theory more digestible.." As for superyacht economic indices and digestibles, perhaps a champagne and lobster index is next?
In any case, if sales of superyachts turn out to be as challenging in the long run as other market segments, perhaps the industry should go back to basics.
So it was especially nice in the midst of the somber mood on this 9/11 to see a break from what has become the norm in superyachts – big, white, look alike and grandiose with an obligatory helicopter on the stern - when American superyacht builder, Burger www.burgerboat.com
, announced delivery of SYCARA IV. A 151-foot (46m) traditionally styled beauty of the early 1920’s style with a classic schooner bow, this Fantail Motor Yacht was built for the enjoyment of experienced yacht owners
Ray and Elsie Catena who, “....were committed to .... recapturing the splendour, grace and charm of an era gone by
Perhaps they’re on to something.
Burger has been building yachts since 1856. So it has survived one Civil War, Two World Wars, the Dust Bowl and most importantly, given the current economic climate in the West at least, the Great Depression.
SYCARA IV and the revival of the class J-Class www.jclassyachts.com
with brand-new sailing superyachts of 1930’s design along with the restoration of Horace Dodge’s 258-foot yacht DELPHINE www.ssdelphine.com
(complete with her original triple-expansion steam plant no less) represent, if not a major trend, certainly a hopeful profitable niche
AND ON THE SUBJECT OF EAST AND WEST
For some prominent sophisticated investors, one measure of the economic climate is freight car loadings.
This morning, before the electrician came and shut all the electrics down, I noticed two headlines on page 16 of the September INTERNATIONAL RAILWAY JOURNAL: “NS (Norfolk Southern) Operating Revenues Fall By Third” and “Indian Ralways Revenue Rises (by 5.82%).”