Container shipping has gone from doomsday to payday in the space of a few months. Sea-Intelligence has revised for the fourth time this year its EBIT profit forecast for the liner industry as carrier results for Q3 trickle in.
Having initially predicted significant red ink for the container shipping pack at the start of the pandemic in April, the Danish consultancy is now forecasting the liner industry will chalk up a $14bn profit this year, marking one of the greatest turnaround in fortunes in the 64-year history of containerisation.
Back in April, when many countries entered lockdown Sea-Intelligence’s worst case scenario was for liners to register a combined $23bn loss.
In fairness to the consultancy, most business sectors – not just shipping – have failed to get profit projections correct during the pandemic. Splash readers in Q2 also suggested the container sector would be hit the hardest of all shipping segments from the effects of Covid-19. It has since turned out that container shipping will be, by some distance, the best performing shipping sector in 2020.
“[I]t is doubtless that the carrier results for 2020 will far exceed not only last year, but the past 8 years.,” Sea-Intelligence noted in its most recent weekly report. The record likely exceeds results going even further back, but many carriers were not good at disclosing much data pertaining to their financial performance in the past.