Maersk struggles in third quarter

Maersk struggles in third quarter
Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk

Maersk has lowered its full-year underlying profit expectation after a difficult third quarter in which volumes, utilisation and unit cost performance all suffered.

Maersk CEO Søren Skou said the company ‘cannot be satisfied with our performance’ when detailing the quarterly results, in which the company lowered its full-year underlying profit forecast from in excess of US$1bn to around US$1bn.

Volumes at Maersk Line also suffered, dropping by 2.4% year-on-year to 5.2m teu, with the fall attributed to Junes Petya cyber-attack which will cost the carrier up to US$300m.

Elsewhere unit cost rose by 7.3% higher, which was also attributed to the cyber-attack, while bunker price rose by 26%.

However Maersk Line did report a net profit of US$220m over the quarter, with revenue increasing by 14% to US$6.1bn.

This growth was helped by a 14% average freight rate increase which grew to US$4,126 teu, although this is a drop of 1.1% compared with the second quarter of 2017.

An increase of 20% in East-West freight rates was the main driving force behind this rise, while North-South rates increased by 14%.

Maersk Line‘s cash flow from operating activities almost doubled to US$702m, while capacity also grew by 12.6% to 3.5m teu.

Despite COSCO, MSC and CMA CGM all announcing orders for new 20,000+ teu vessels, Maersk said there no current plans for new ship orders.

Skou said that the third quarter had been ‘one of the busiest that this company has ever seen’ as it ‘made significant progress towards becoming a focused container shipping ports and logistics company’.

During this busy period the acquisition of Hamburg Sud edged nearer, with Maersk reporting it has cleared the transaction in 19 jurisdictions and has just three left.

The company expects to complete the transaction during the final quarter of the year.

At APM Terminals (APMT) revenue fell slightly from US$1.06bn to US$1.02bn, while the terminal operator reported a net operating loss of US$267m.

Underlying profit was down from US$126m in 2016 to US$110m, a result of over-capacity and costs related to the cyber-attack according to Maersk.

The net loss and a negative ROIC of 13.3% were both attributed to impairments of US$374m related to terminals in markets with challenging commercial conditions.

Meanwhile Maersk agreed the sale of Maersk Oil to Total for US$7.45bn and the sale of Maersk Tankers to A.P. Møller Holding for US$1.2bn.