Best-ever result for Hapag-Lloyd

Best-ever result for Hapag-Lloyd

Hapag-Lloyd, Germany's leading ocean carrier, today reported record operating profit of 343 million euros ($286 million) in 2003, up 70 percent from $241 million a year ago on sales of $4.7 billion, up from $4.5 billion.

The gains were driven largely by Hapag-Lloyd Container Line, which turned a profit of $211 million against $82 million in 2002, on double-digit growth in traffic and a surge in liner freight rates.

"Our liner shipping has an excellent positioning and high productivity with the focus on cost control and reduction," said Michael Behrendt, chairman of the executive board.

Behrendt said parent company TUI would soon chose investment banks to handle the sale of a third of Hapag-Lloyd's shares on the Frankfurt stock exchange in the second half of the year. The company has also begun the process of selling non-shipping activities, including VTG-Lehnkering AG, a rail logistics company.

The container unit boosted traffic by 13.5 percent to 2.1 million TEUs from 1.9 million TEUs, nearly double the 7.4 percent growth in the global container market. Operating profit grew to $302 million from $117.3 million on sales up 8.5 percent to $2.9 billion from $2.5 billion, despite the weakness of the dollar.

The carrier said it boosted volumes and operating profits on all routes. Traffic on Asia/Australia and trans-Pacific routes rose 14 percent to 885,000 TEUs and 540,000 TEUs from 750,000 TEUs and 470,000 TEUs, respectively, while North Atlantic volume was up 7 percent at 550,000 TEUs from 500,000 TEUs. Latin America volume rose 25 percent to 150,000 TEUs from 132,000 TEUs, mainly on higher activity between South and North America.

Hapag-Lloyd will get a clearer idea of investors' interest in container shipping tomorrow when Royal P&O Nedlloyd, the world's fourth largest carrier, opens for trading in Amsterdam.