Norway’s Wilh. Wilhelmsen Holding ASA boosted first quarter operating profit by 84 percent from a year ago to $106 million, driven by record earnings and revenue at its global car carrier and rolling cargo fleet.
The Oslo-based group’s revenue jumped 26 percent to $946 million in the three months to March 31 and profit after tax and minority interest rose to $69 million from $22 million in the same period in 2011.
The strong performance is mainly due to the company’s stake in Oslo-quoted Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA, which operates one of the world’s biggest car and heavy cargo shipping fleets.
The shipping unit’s revenue surged 36 percent in the first quarter to $596 million and operating profit more than doubled to $104 million from $49 million in the year-earlier period.
“Our shipping activities benefitted from favorable trade balance and a sound balance between auto and high and heavy volumes,” said group CEO Thomas Wilhelmsen.” Introduction of new and larger vessels contributed to more efficient operations with a positive impact on earnings.”
Auto exports from Japan were up 19 percent year-over-year and Korean shipments rose 20 percent to an all-time high. Demand for high and heavy cargo remained strong in the first quarter especially in China, Africa and Brazil.
At the end of March operating companies in Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA controlled 137 ships, up from 128 a year ago, accounting for 23 percent of the global market capacity.
The maritime services division grew revenue by 2 percent to $237 million as it increased the number of ships under its management, but operating profit fell 53 percent to $6 million, impacted by a $15 million loss on the withdrawal of a ballast water treatment system earlier in the year.