Hapag-Lloyd’s net loss grew to 128 million euros ($165 million) in 2012 from 29 million euros ($37.4 million) a year earlier, as surging fuel prices outweighed modest increases in volume and freight rates.
However, the German ocean carrier, the world’s sixth-largest, did post an operating profit of $33.5 million compared with $130.3 million in 2011 as revenue grew 12.1 percent to $8.8 billion because of favorable exchange rate movements and slightly higher and better paying container traffic.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization slid to $432 million from $473 million.
Transport volume edged up 1.1 percent to approximately 5.3 million 20-foot equivalent units, and the average freight rate increased 3.2 percent year-over-year to $1,581 per TEU, though peak-season surcharges, a key contributor to earnings, could not be achieved in major trades.
Overall transport costs jumped $1.2 billion in 2012, largely driven by a 9 percent increase in fuel costs that followed a 34 percent surge in 2011.
“Despite a difficult economic environment, we were able to generate a positive operating result, as we did in 2011,” Hapag-Lloyd CEO Michael Behrendt said.
“Although this meant that we performed well compared to the rest of the industry, earnings fell short of expectations,” he added.
The carrier said it had postponed the delivery of three 13,200-TEU ships, which are fully financed, from the second half of 2013 to March and April 2014 as the result of the latest transport volume forecasts.
Hapag-Lloyd did not comment on the status of ongoing merger negotiations with German carrier Hamburg-Sud.