Hapag-Lloyd’s revenue and profit rose in the third quarter from a year ago driven by higher freight rates, but the German ocean carrier cautioned the market outlook remains challenging.
Earnings before interest and tax more than doubled to 86.6 million euros ($110 million) from 36.7 million euros ($45.8 million), and revenue was 15 percent higher at 1.78 billion euros ($2.3 billion).
After-tax earnings grew more than fourfold to $57.9 million from $12.2 million in the third quarter of 2011.
The carrier, which transported 1.28 million 20-foot-equivalent units in the quarter, said average freight rates rose 8 percent year-on-year to $1,647 per TEU, following rate increases implemented in the first and second quarters of 2012.
“Given the intense competition and gloomier economic prospects this is a good result. Unfortunately, given the absence of the peak season, we were not able to continue the upward trend in freight rates in the third quarter,” said Michael Behrendt, Chairman of Hapag-Lloyd’s Executive Board.
The third quarter profit more than made up for the operating losses in the first half of the year, but Hapag-Lloyd booked a net loss of $119.5 million in the first nine months of the year, largely due to a sharply higher fuel bill.
Revenue climbed 14.6 percent in the first nine months to $6.6 billion as traffic increased by 2.3 percent to 3.96 million TEUs, and average freight rates were 2.2 percent higher than during the year-earlier period at $1,574 per TEU.
The fourth quarter will be dominated by the intensifying effects of the debt crisis in the eurozone, Hapag-Lloyd said.
“Liquidity constraints and declining consumer demand mean that retailers and manufacturers are not filing their warehouses but instead reducing their inventories. This noticeably reduces demand for transport services in these markets, especially in southern European countries.”