Hapag-Lloyd expects to deliver a significant improvement in earnings during the first quarter of 2021 thanks to exceptionally strong demand for container transport, leading to a much higher level of freight rates.
Based on preliminary business figures for the month of January and the current business situation, the carrier predicts that performance indicators EBITDA and operating profit will grow substantially.
EBITDA is currently expected to be at least USD1.8bn compared to US$517m in the same quarter last year.
Meanwhile, operating profit is expected to hit at least US$1.5bn, compared to the US$176m in the first quarter of 2020.
Rolf Habben Jansen, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd, stated: “We will see a very strong result in the first quarter, but we anticipate a normalisation as the year progresses.
“Nevertheless, we do also expect that the result for 2021 as a whole will be significantly higher than the prior-year level,” he added.
However, the forecast for the year is subject to considerable uncertainty due to a number of factors, including the above-average volatility of freight rates at this time and operational challenges caused by existing infrastructural bottlenecks.
The inability to predict the further course or economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic is also clouding the picture.
Habben Jansen added: “We are still seeing slower container turn times, significant congestion in ports around the globe, capacity constraints in rail and truck, and the risks of the coronavirus pandemic remain.”