Liner shipping’s ‘mind-bending’ profits flow in

By the end of 2022, the container shipping industry will have earned an unprecedented half a trillion dollars of operating profit from two years of supply chain pain and record freight rates, according to estimates from research firm Drewry.

Having made a record $190bn last year according to Drewry estimates, the liner shipping industry is on track to post new profit heights in 2022.

Looking at the latest figures, John McCown from Blue Alpha Capital described liner shipping’s Q1 results as “mind-bending”.

The 11 global carriers that publish their results posted a “staggering” $59.3bn net profit in the first quarter, the sixth consecutive quarter of the highest net income ever for the industry.

The container shipping industry profits in the first quarter of 2022 beat out those of FANG—an acronym for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google—by 103%, expanding the gap from last year’s fourth quarter when liner industry profits beat FANGs by 14%, according to analysis by Blue Alpha Capital.

McCown has maintained his initial profit forecast of $220.5bn for the container shipping industry in 2022.

Whether Q1 is the absolute pinnacle of earnings remains to be seen.

Hapag-Lloyd, which reported a record operating profit of EUR4.3 bn ($4.8 bn) for the first three months of the year, indicated last week it expected second quarter results to come in “slightly south” of the period just gone.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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