Big first-half gains for MOL

Big first-half gains for MOL

Japanese carrier MOL on Wednesday said higher volumes on key east-west routes for the first half of the fiscal year boosted shipping profits nearly four-fold to 14.870 billion yen ($136.1 million), up 466 percent from $24 million a year ago.

Revenue from shipping for the first half of the year ending Sept. 30 was $3.6 billion, up 10 percent on $3.34 billion for the same period in 2002.

Operating income from shipping was $308.6 million, an increase of 328 percent from $116 million a year ago. However, MOL said higher fuel prices and a higher yen adversely affected the company's overall profitability compared to last year.

MOL launched six of a total eight 4,500-TEU container ships under construction in the first half of the year. These ships replace smaller ones in the Asia-North America trade, where service began on new routes. The company's liner division also enhanced its services by opening new routes serving Europe to Asia and Intra-Asia routes.

Ferries and domestic shipping revenues increased nearly 3 percent to $165 million; shipping agent and harbor/terminal operations revenues rose nearly 10 percent to $395 million; revenues for freight forwarding and warehouse operations gained nearly 7 percent to $214 million.

Looking ahead, the company noted several areas of concern, including the ongoing appreciation of the yen, rising interest rates and higher bunker prices. It noted that Japan's economy is starting to pick up along with the recovery in the global economy and that freight rates are expected to remain stable through March 2004, the end of MOL's fiscal year.