Strong demand and significant disruption to global supply chains drove freight rates to record levels in the first quarter of the year, helping Maersk deliver an operating profit of US$3.1bn, representing a remarkable sixfold increase.
In a market affected by operational challenges such as bottlenecks, lack of capacity and equipment shortages, volumes grew by 6% and freight rates jumped by 35%.
Revenue climbed by 30% to US$12.4bn, while bunker fuel prices also dropped, helping EBITDA increase to US$4bn from US$1.5bn the previous year.
According to Maersk, the results show that customers’ demand for integrated supply chains and simple, self-service solutions has never been more evident and this provides momentum, especially for logistics and digital solutions.
Søren Skou, CEO of A.P. Moller – Maersk, said: “A.P. Moller – Maersk delivered an exceptionally strong performance in Q1 2021 with record profit for the quarter.
“The high growth and profitability were driven by solid demand across ocean, logistics and terminals. Strong demand led to bottlenecks and a lack of capacity and equipment, which drove up freight rates to record-high levels.”
Revenue in the gateway terminals business grew by 24% to US$915m, led by higher volumes and storage income while EBITDA increased by 52%.
The company’s logistics and services segment delivered revenue growth of 42% to US$2bn, driven by organic growth and the acquisitions of Performance Team and KGH Customs Services.
Maersk will continue to focus on its long-term transformation strategy to prioritise customers’ demand for integrated logistics, added Skou.
He noted: “Our integrator strategy was validated by strong customer support during Q1. As we change the conversations with customers from being short-term transactional to becoming long-term value-based, we lay the foundation for further, stable growth.”
The results came in a persistently difficult environment where countries are still contending with the effects of the pandemic.
The company expects that the exceptional market situation of high demand leading to supply chain bottlenecks and equipment shortages to continue well into the fourth quarter of 2021.
It has updated its full-year guidance for an EBITDA of US$13-15bn, up from US$8.3bn last year, and an operating profit of US$9-11bn compared to US$4.2bn in 2020.
Maersk’s ocean segment is still expected to grow in line with global container demand, which is now expected to grow by 5-7%in 2021, primarily driven by the export volumes out of China to the USA, with the highest growth seen in the first half-year.