Maersk reports turnaround

Container shipping line Maersk's bottom line is back in the black for the year to date, and the group is forecasting an increased profit to $US3.7 billion ($NZ4.53 billion) for its full-year result.

Maersk Group has just released its third quarter to September result, with division Maersk Shipping's profit for the quarter turning around from a $US289 million loss a year ago, to $US498 million profit.

Group chief executive Nils Andersen said in a statement there was an average 5.7% increase to $US3022 per 40-foot container, while average unit costs decreased by 6% from fuel savings.

In August in New Zealand, Maersk hiked the dry container rates by 25%-30%, while last month similarly hiked 40-foot refrigerated container rates by $US1500, beginning on January 1.

In both instances, Maersk said the rate increases had followed 25%-30% rate declines in an oversupplied market, during the previous three to four years.

Maersk is the country's largest shipping line customer, including Port Otago's, and moves about 170,000 40-foot containers in and out of the country annually.

Other savings by Maersk have been made in slowing ships, to save fuel, dropping visits to smaller regional ports, and increased slot-sharing with other container lines.

Mr Anderson said the quarterly result was "good", given the challenging economic environment, with the overall group profit up from $US371 million a year ago to $US933 million, albeit with a negative $US267 million vessels' impairment charge.

"Thanks to our rate initiatives and cost reductions, Maersk Line is back in black figures for year to date, and the high oil price supports a satisfactory result for [division] Maersk Oil," he said.

The AP Moller-Maersk Group consists of Maersk Line, Maersk Oil, APM Terminals and Maersk Drilling.

simon.hartley@odt.co.nz

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