Maersk doubles full-year net profit guidance amid ‘exceptional’ container market situation

Further evidence of the bumper profits global carriers will report this year emerged last night in Copenhagen with A.P. Møller – Mærsk, the owner of the world’s largest containerline, making a significant upgrade to its full year guidance.

With spot and contract rates in record territory for much of the year so far, Maersk’s preliminary Q1 figures are extraordinary with revenues of $12.4bn and a net profit of $3.1bn racked up in the first three months of 2021.

“The continued strong performance is mainly driven by the continuation of the exceptional market situation with surging demand leading to bottlenecks in the supply chain and equipment (containers) shortage,” the Danish carrier stated in a trading update.

Seaborne volumes increased by 5.7% and average freight rates improved 35% in Q1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Saying it expected the exceptional market situation to continue into the fourth quarter, Maersk now anticipates its full year net profit could be twice as high as earlier estimates, hitting somewhere between $9bn to $11bn.

Maersk’s outlook for the global market demand growth for the full-year 2021 has been revised up to 5-7% from previously 3-5%

Maersk also said yesterday evening that its outlook for the global market demand growth for the full-year 2021 has been revised up to 5-7% from previously 3-5%, primarily driven by the export volumes out of China to the US. The carrier will officially publish its Q1 results on May 5.

The sensational start to the year in terms of carrier fortunes was well illustrated on Friday when Cosco subsidiary, OOCL, released its Q1 results. The Hong Kong liner reported total volumes were up 23.8% year-on-year, revenues up by a staggering 96% to $3.02bn for the three-month period. OOCL’s overall average revenue per teu increased by 58.3% compared to the first quarter of last year.

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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