HHLA managed to grow revenue and container traffic in a challenging third quarter, but Hamburg’s biggest stevedore warned of an economic slowdown and rising overcapacity in North European ports.
Revenue rose to $420 million from $391 million and profit after tax edged up to $42 million from $37 million. Traffic totaled 1.89 million 20-foot equivalent units against 1.62 million TEUs in the third quarter of 2010.
This left traffic for the first nine months of the year nearly 24.8 percent higher at 5.3 million TEUs, thanks to surging growth on Asian, Baltic and trans-atlantic routes in the first half. Nine months revenue was 15.8 percent higher at $1.25 billion and profit increased 17.9 percent to $89.6 million.
Traffic with Asia jumped 24.7 percent from the first three quarters of 2010, soared 59 percent on routes to Poland, Russia and the Baltic states and increased 41.4 percent on the North Atlantic. The group also lured liner services from neighboring Bremerhaven.
Intermodal traffic to the German and the Central and East European hinterland grew 13 percent to 1.425 million TEUs in the first nine months. HHLA’s growth compares with more modest increases of 7.7 percent and 3.1 percent in Europe’s top two container ports, Rotterdam and Antwerp in the same period.
“This is a remarkable accomplishment given the global economic turndown, more demanding requirements in maritime logistics and the ongoing delay in dredging the river Elbe’s navigation channel,” said Klaus-Dieter Peters, chairman of HHLA’s executive board.
HHLA expects operating earnings, which grew 16.2 percent in the first three quarters to $225 million, to hit $288 million for the full year. “However, increased earnings risks could reduce the figure by a low double-digit sum.” Revenue is projected at $1.65 billion.
“The group’s immediate market environment is also suffering as a result of the strained earnings situation in container shipping and the creation of excess capacity at the North [European] Range terminals,” Peters said.
HHLA handles around two-thirds of container traffic in Hamburg, Europe’s third largest box hub, and operates a terminal in Odessa, Ukraine.
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