Liners now on track for combined $150bn in earnings with 2022 poised to create further records

Shipping consultants Drewry have revised their full year forecasts for the combined liner community, now suggesting the world’s containerlines are on course to post “eye-watering” earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $150bn, at least five times previous all time records for the sector. Moreover, despite evidence the spot market might have peaked in recent days, Drewry is forecasting carriers will nail even greater EBITs in 2022 thanks to locking in substantially higher long term contracts with clients.

Drewry data shows that in Q2 liners notched up an EBIT of $39.2bn, an 11-fold improvement over the same pandemic-strewn period in 2020.

Drewry started 2021 forecasting carriers would earn a combined $35bn, a figure it upgraded in July to $80bn to $100bn as the sector hit heights never seen before. This latest upgrade, more than four times Drewry’s first projection, underlines just how startling and meteoric the rate rises have been this year.

Typing these numbers on a page is frankly surreal

Looking to next year, Drewry suggests the $150bn figure could be topped, something that will send shudders across many in the shipper community.

“For 2022, spot rates are expected to decline, but there will be a significant increase in contract pricing, leading to an increase in average global pricing of about 6%,” Drewry predicted in its latest Container Insight report.

“To seasoned observers of the container market, typing these numbers on a page is frankly surreal,” the Container Insight report conceded.

Drewry’s latest spot box figures, published yesterday, show its composite global index decreased 2.2%, but remains 289% higher than a year ago.

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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