Generally speaking, shipping companies need enormous funds to purchase or build ships which are their most important assets. Particularly Korean shipping companies which have difficulties in raising funds have high risk because their debt level is very high in relation to the acquisition of the vessels. And besides, it is very difficult for the shipping companies to expect stable freight revenue as shipping market is a complete competition market in which all the prices including freight rate are decided according to the theory of demand and supply between shippers and ship owners not in the domestic market but in the global market. Consequently, the risk of shipping companies is even higher than that of other industries because it is very uncertain for them to obtain stable revenue and sustain their growth rate.
Higher return can be achieved when the risk is high in accordance with conventional economic and financial theory. However, the conventional theory regarding the relationship between profit and risk does not always apply to Korean shipping companies as they cannot get high return despite the high risk confronting Korean shipping companies when compared to other industries. Therefore, it is very useful to analyse factors which have impacts on shipping companies and to take measures to enhance competitiveness of Korean shipping companies. The purpose of this study is to select the shipping-related risk factors and to analyse the relationship between shipping-related risk and those factors in Korean shipping companies for the development of Korean shipping industry.
The field data on the 32 ocean-going shipping companies′ financial statements have been used to get the empirical evidence. Coastal shipping companies were excluded as most of them are too small in size to make reasonable decisions and it is very difficult to collect the related data.
Previous books or documents have been referred to research the conventional theories as to the relationship between risk and return. Statistics analysis has been made based on the collected data to choose factors which influence shipping-related risk. T-test and multiple regression analysis have also been used to test relationship between risk and those factors.
This study has set six hypotheses and research model to examine the shipping -related risk factors and the relationship between shipping-related risk and those factors. Six hypotheses are the followings : Four factors(fluctuation of vessel volume, fluctuation of debt, fluctuation of operation profits, fluctuation of cash flow) have a negative correlation with the shipping risk whereas two factors(fluctuation of charter cost, fluctuation of interest) have a positive correlation with the shipping risk.
These hypotheses have been adopted as a result of multiple regression analysis with a significance level less than 0.01. These results represent that Korean shipping companies′ managers tend to make conservative decisions as to vessel volume if the shipping risk becomes high: Fluctuation of debt becomes low if the shipping risk becomes high Management techniques and systematic provisions have to be prepared to avoid an exchange rate risk when funds are raised by foreign currency debt. Vessel acquisition contract should reasonably be made in terms of interest Charter related decision should be made reasonably and conservatively to manage the shipping-related risk Korean ocean-going shipping companies have to reduce their debt ratio and increase their equity capital ratio to avoid shipping risk If the shipping risk becomes high, decision-making regarding cash flow becomes conservative and so Korean ocean-going shipping companies tend to make a reasonable decision to avoid the risk.
Finally, the results of this study hint that Korean ocean-going shipping companies relatively make a non-aggressive and non-offensive but reasonable and conservative decision in preparation against possible shipping risk in their cash flow, vessel volume etc Interest becomes higher when shipping market is depressed Korean shipping companies do not get high profits even if they are faced with relatively high risk when compared to other industries The bigger the charter cost, the higher the shipping risk