News Code : 44312

Petrotahlil - Oil tanker companies have watched their stocks climb  as the crude market toiled in recent weeks.

And business, according to the founder and head of Nordic American Tankers, business is better than ever.

"We are making a lot of money at this time, improving our balance sheet tremendously, and I have never seen such a strong market," Herbjørn Hansson, CEO of the Bermuda-based tanker company, told CNBC's Jim Cramer in a "Mad Money" interview. "And I've been around for a little while."

Nordic was the third-largest player in the market at the end of 2019.

Amid a glut of global supply and a global coronavirus pandemic that has sapped consumer demand for energy, crude prices have collapsed this year. U.S. West Texas Intermediate futures for the first time fell into negative territory Monday when the May contract traded in the red as low as $37 per barrel.

Producers were in effect paying other entities to take barrels of oil out of their hands because storage is very limited. That has been a boon for companies, like Nordic, who transport the liquid in bulk.

Given the state of the market, Nordic can charge nearly $70,000 per day for ship usage, Hansson said, who counts big oil companies such as Exxon, Mobil and British Petroleum among its customers.

Nordic's revenue is projected to come in at $88.5 million when it reports for the first quarter next month, up 65% from the same period a year ago, according to FactSet data.

"We don't speculate in oil. We speculate in carrying oil and that's a different story. And my point is that I prioritize dividends," he said. "We have a strong market, and this is the strongest market I've seen in my lifetime and I've been around for quite a while."

Nordic, which has a $861 million market cap, watched its stock more than double in roughly the past month.

Shares are up almost 19% to $5.85 year-to-date, performing much better than most of its competitors in the industry, including Frontline, Diamond S Shipping and Tsakos Energy Navigation.

Euronav and Frontline were the leading tanker companies last year with more than twice the market value of Nordic.

The company is focused on paying down its debt and has its sights on dominating the whole market, Hansson said.

"We were debt free a few years ago and there's no doubt in my mind we will be debt free again," he said. "We will have the strongest balance sheet in the industry, we will have the best dividend in the industry and we have a strong market in front of us."

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