Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding posted weaker results in the fourth quarter of 2012, but the Norwegian car carrier and marine services group boosted full year earnings and revenue on a strong performance by its logistics unit.
Operating profit was down 6 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 at $96 million on unchanged revenue of $903 million because of a less favorable cargo and trade mix as auto volumes increased, particularly exports from Korea, while high and heavy freight continued to fall.
A weak performance by the U.S. shipping operation also weighed on the Oslo-based group’s profitability.
Full year operating profit jumped to $601 million from $407 million in 2011, boosted by a $134 million gain from the sale of a stake in Hyundai Glovis, the logistics arm of Korean car manufacturer Hyundai.
Revenue grew to $3.9 billion from $3.45 billion in 2011.
Global sales of light vehicles in North America, Europe, Oceanic and the BRIC nations, increased 5 percent from the third quarter to 15.5 million units. Chinese sales soared 16 percent, while North American sales were flat quarter on quarter.
Japanese auto exports hit 1 million per quarter, and Korean shipments returned to 800,000 per quarter following labor strikes in the previous three months. Chinese exports continued to rise, reaching an annualized level of 1 million cars.
The demand for high and heavy equipment, including construction, mining and agricultural machinery, softened compared to the first half of 2012.
The fleet controlled by Wilhelmsen group companies rose to 142 vessels from 133 in 2011, accounting for 24 percent of global capacity.