The ‘ghost fleet’ of cargo ships with nowhere to go is going to hurt a lot of US companies

Hanjin Shipping, the largest cargo shipping firm in South Korea, has filed for bankruptcy protection and the move has stranded a good portion of its fleet.

Concerns that the company may not be able to pay docking fees have left 85 cargo ships from Hanjin’s fleet floating in international waters, unable to unload their cargo and even running out of food.

This is a dire situation for the firm, which has now received a $90 million bailout from its parent company, but it isn’t the only company suffering from its shortcomings.

According to Mike Baker at Deutsche Bank, the stranded boats and need to shift to other cargo shippers will impact some US-based retailers.

“At a minimum we believe companies would need to absorb higher shipping costs in order to get goods on other providers,” wrote Baker in a note to clients on Thursday. “On Wednesday, September 7, it was reported in Liner that both Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Co will launch new transpacific services. But, that said, concerns still exist that holiday shipments may be delayed, particularly in key categories like apparel, electronics and toys.”

Baker pointed back to the West Coast port labour strikes in 2014 as evidence of a possible disruption’s cost, albeit less severe.

“Looking back to the hardline retailer response to the port issues of 2014, we found that more than half of the companies in our coverage universe put in mitigation plans in front of the labour slowdown to deal with potential inventory disruptions,” said the note.

“But, even with those plans in place, many still felt some impact, including higher supply chain costs which hurt gross margins, and out of stocks, which negatively impacted sales.”

Baker noted that retailers even called out the financial impact of the strike that year. For instance, Williams-Sonoma said the 2014 strike had a $0.10-$0.12 impact on full year earnings per share which came in at $3.24 per share. Additionally, Restoration Hardware also reported a $5 million to $6 million drag on revenues from the strike.

While Baker expects that many of these companies have some plan in place in case the Hanjin issues persist, the analyst still expects to see financial impact at home goods stores like Restoration Hardware, sporting goods stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, and home improvement stores such as Home Depot.

NOW WATCH: KRUGMAN: The richest Americans should have a tax rate over 70%