CP Ships earnings boom on record traffic

CP Ships earnings boom on record traffic

CP Ships Ltd. said today that operating income soared by 44 percent in the fourth quarter of 2003 over the same period a year earlier on record container volume and rising freight rates.

The London-based company announced that unaudited operating income for the quarter reached US$49 million, up from $34 million before exceptional items in the fourth quarter of 2002. Earnings were 11.4 percent higher than the $44 million recorded in the third quarter of 2003. Net income was $41 million, compared to $23 million in the year-ago quarter.

For 2003 overall, operating income before exceptional items was $131 million, compared with $83 million in 2002. Net income was $82 million, up from $52 million.

"With record operating income in the fourth quarter and up nearly 60 percent for the full year, and record volume and sales revenue for both the quarter and the year, we consider these to be outstanding results," said Ray Miles, chief executive of CP Ships.

Container volume of 569,000 TEUs was up 3 percent from the fourth quarter of 2002 and was the strongest quarterly volume ever. Although average freight rates in the fourth quarter were down 1 percent from the third quarter, they were 8 percent higher than a year ago. For the full year, record container volume of 2.2 million TEUs was 9 percent higher than 2002, while average freight rates were up 7 percent, reflecting improved market conditions in most trade lanes, especially in the trans-Atlantic and Latin American markets.