Hapag-Lloyd swung to a net loss of $38.3 million in 2011 from a $565 million profit in 2010.
But the German container line’s $133.3 million operating profit contrasted with sizeable losses at the majority of ocean carriers.
“In comparison with the competition this was an excellent result for Hapag Lloyd in a challenging year,” said Hapag-Lloyd CEO Michael Behrendt.
“Not only were we the only large liner shipping company to achieve a positive operating result in all four quarters of 2011, but we were also the only market participant to close the second half of the year with a group profit after interest and taxes.”
The world’s fourth largest carrier previously reported revenues slipped to $8 billion from $8.2 billion in 2010 largely because of exchange rate fluctuations.
Volume grew 5.1 percent to 5.2 million 20-foot equivalent units while the average freight rate declined 2.4 percent to $1,532 per TEU.
A 34 percent surge in the average bunker price to $655 per ton “severely depressed” earnings, the Hamburg-based carrier said. The additional cost of around $600 million could not be passed on to customers “as some market players resorted to aggressive pricing in 2011 in order to gain market share.”
The market has accepted the sharp increases in freight rates effective in March and April, Behrendt said.
“These increases are unavoidable in order to get back to adequate and sustainable rates again, especially as the bunker price has gone up even further.”
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.