CMA CGM swung to a net profit of $1.63 billion in 2010, from a year earlier loss of $1.4 billion, driven by higher cargo volume and freight rates and cost cuts.
The French ocean carrier, which needed a restructuring of $5 billion of debt and a $500 million capital injection from a Turkish investor to survive the container shipping slump, boosted revenue 36 percent to $14.3 billion.
The world's third largest ocean carrier said it expects to return to "normalized" profitability levels in 2011.
"The excellent results … were driven by the strategy introduced in 2009 and pursued in 2010," said Rodolphe Saade, executive officer of the family-owned carrier. "They effectively demonstrate the strength of our business model, as the group successfully capitalized on the upturn in world trade during the year."
The Marseille-based company said the strong growth was accompanied by the sustained deployment of cost control programs introduced in 2009, which helped limit growth in operating expenses to 4 percent in 2010.
CMA CGM earned $2.5 billion before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the year, equivalent to a margin of 17.6 percent, one of the industry's highest. This compares with a $667 million loss in 2009.
The number of containers transported increased 15 percent to 9.04 million 20-foot equivalent units from 7.88 million TEUs in 2009.
All markets grew strongly through the year with the Asia-Europe and intra-Asia lines enjoying record business. The Asia-U.S. trade has now returned to pre-recession levels after being severely impacted by the decline in world trade.
CMA CGM took delivery of 20 new ships in 2010, of which 12 are owned. Of the owned ships, eight have more than 11,000 TEUs capacity.
The company said it expanded capacity 17.7 percent in 2010 to take an 8.6 percent world market share.
"The group will continue to expand in 2011," Saade said. "The issue of $500 million in redeemable bonds to the [Turkish] Yildirim group [is] now being finalized."
"CMA CGM enjoys a stronger financial position that it intends to consolidate, in particular by diversifying its sources of financing," Saade said.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.