Wilhelmsen Posts Record Operating Profit, Revenue

Wilhelmsen Posts Record Operating Profit, Revenue

Wilh. Wilhelmsen ASA booked record operating profit and revenue in the second quarter but the Norwegian roll on/roll shipping giant warned a weak global economy threatens to slow growth in its core deep-sea auto and heavy lift cargo markets.

Operating profit in the three months to June 30 grew 13 percent from the first quarter to $117 million, and revenue rose 3 percent to $734 million.

The bottom line figure was down 20 percent, however, at $70 million, due to an unrealized loss on the group’s hedging portfolio.

The Oslo-listed carrier said it is “cautiously optimistic” about volumes and earnings in the second half despite macroeconomic uncertainties.

“Volumes increased 4 percent from a strong first quarter. We still see high and heavy [lift] volumes growing faster than auto. Our trade mix is favorable, with especially the Oceania and Atlantic trades doing well,” said Jan Eyvin Wang, president and CEO.

“Although Europe still struggles with low demand for cars, we see increased exports from particularly Europe to Asia. Import to the US also holds up well,” he said.

The group’s operating companies acquired four ships during the quarter, taking the total to 141 vessels, among the world’s largest fleets of car carriers. Ten ships are due for delivery in 2012-14, including two post-Panamax car carriers ordered by Korea-based Eukor in July.

“With volume growth, although at a moderate level, we will continue to gradually grow the fleet through investments in next generation newbuildings or by chartering in tonnage,” Wang said.

Economic challenges in Europe, the U.S. and the BRIC nations — Brazil, Russia, India and China — threaten to postpone private consumption and corporate investment decisions and slow growth in the auto and heavy lift markets, the company cautioned.

“The long term growth prospects for deep sea transportation are, however, positive,” it said.

Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.