Hamburg's biggest container terminal operator increased third-quarter operating profit by almost 20 percent from a year ago on flat volume growth, but warned of a less-than-certain outlook for 2009.
Majority port-owned Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG, which had its initial public offering on the Frankfurt stock market in November 2007, said earnings before interest and taxes grew to 96.1 million euros [$122 million] in the three months to Sept. 30 from 80.4 million euros [$102 million] in the previous-year period.
Revenues climbed to 345.4 million euros [$438 million] from 309.9 million euros [$394 million].
Container volume at HHLA's three terminals in Hamburg, and facilities in neighboring Lubeck and Odessa, Ukraine, was flat at 1.912 million TEUs against 1.904 million TEUs. The Transfract International intermodal affiliate increased rail traffic by 50,000 TEUs to 484,000 TEUs during the quarter.
The stevedore said annual container traffic growth through its terminals slowed from 7.3 percent on-year in the second quarter to 4.9 percent in the third quarter. Volume in the first nine months rose to 5.652 million TEUs from 5.387 million TEUs a year ago, while intermodal traffic was nearly 15 percent higher at 1.42 million TEUs against 1.24 million TEUs.
The company "has fully met its demanding targets on revenues and earnings?despite an economic environment marked by growing difficulties," said Chief Executive Klaus-Dieter Peters.
The company would achieve its target for double-digit earnings and revenue growth to between 320-350 million euros [$406-445 million] and 1.3 billion euros [$1.65 billion], Peters forecast. This compares with 256.9 million euros [$326 million] and 1.2 billion euros [$1.5 billion] in 2007.
The company said it faced an "exceptionally uncertain" 2009 because of the impact of the global economic crisis on trade, with forecasts for global container throughput cut to around 8 percent, and just 3 percent in northern Europe.
The handler has budgeted 1.5 billion euros [$1.9 billion] to expand annual capacity in Hamburg to 12 million TEUs by 2012.
Operating profit in the first nine months rose to 288.6 million euros [$366.5 million] from 219.2 million euros [$278.4 million] on revenues 15.4-percent higher at just over 1 billion euros [$1.27 billion].