Wilhelmsen profit in fourth quarter

Wilhelmsen profit in fourth quarter

The Wilh. Wilhelmsen Group of Norway, which owns half of car and roll-on/roll off carrier Wallenius Wilhelmsen, recorded a net profit of $22 million for the fourth quarter of 2003, up slightly from $21 million in 2002. The company said that net profit for 2003 was $66 million, up from $54 million in 2002.

Wilhelmsen said that net operating income from its car carrying and liner business was $89.6 million in 2003, compared with $78.2 million in 2002. Net income improved to $60.7 million from $51.8 million.

The company said that the improvement was due to good capacity utilization in key trade lanes, improvements in operational efficiency, and a substantial reduction in net financial expenses.

The company said that global transport of new cars and other light vehicles increased by 4 percent in 2003. The trades with best growth were Japan-Europe, 19 percent; exports from Korea, 14 percent, and vehicle shipments from North America, 11 percent.

Wallenius Wilhelmsen, which currently owns 60 vessels, will increase the size of its fleet in the coming years. The company signed an agreement in 2003 with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for four new carriers, the first of which will be delivered in October. The carrier also has an option for two similar vessels, which must be exercised by March.

In January, Wallenius Wilhelmsen awarded a contract to Hyundai Heavy Industries for two car carriers, for delivery in 2006-07.

In other news, the carrier said it has signed a contract with Shell Marine Products to purchase 200,000 tons of bunker fuel with a sulphur content of 1.0 percent. The fuel will be supplied in Bremerhaven, Gothenburg and Hamburg.

International standards will require that ships meet a 1.5 percent sulphur target in Europe and 4.5 percent in the rest of the world in 2005. Wallenius Wilhelmsen said in a statement that it intends to exceed the global target by having all its vessels, including those on long-term charters, meet the 1.5 percent sulphur target by the end of this year.

In the last six months, the company has negotiated contracts with ExxonMobil for 100,000 tons of fuel in Southampton with a 1.0 percent sulphur content, and with BP in Singapore for 180,000 tons with a 1.5 percent sulphur content. The company purchases about 800,000 tons of bunker fuel annually.