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Maersk revises annual forecast again, builds $14.5bn war chest

At the start of 2021, box shipping’s craziest year, A.P. Møller – Maersk, the world’s largest containerline, let investors know it expected an underlying EBITDA of between $8.5bn to $10.5bn. Yesterday, the Danish giant was forced to upgrade this figure for the second time in recent months with Maersk now forecasting it will lock in a record EBITDA of between $22bn to $23bn, suggesting earlier seemingly bullish projections that the whole container shipping industry could notch up a net combined profit of $100bn this year now looks pessimistic.

Maersk’s war chest for acquisitions is also sitting in record territory. The group said in February it expected to have a free cash flow above $3.5bn for 2021, something it now expects to be a minimum of $14.5bn.

“Given the persistent congestions and bottlenecks in the supply chains, APMM now expects the second half year 2021 to be stronger than previously anticipated, both Q3 and the full year 2021,” the company stated in a release.

Speaking with Reuters yesterday, Maersk’s CEO Søren Skou said he expects global trade volumes to grow 7%-8% this year compared with 2020.

Currently, 9%-10% of global container capacity is sitting outside ports waiting to discharge

“We see very, very strong end-user demand combined with re-stocking and the fact that capacity in ports, warehouses and on ships is not fully utilised due to Covid-19,” Skou said, adding: “Nothing in our data suggests that the situation will change this year.”

Currently, 9%-10% of global container capacity is sitting outside ports waiting to discharge, according to Maersk data.

A.P. Møller – Maersk will reveal its Q3 results on November 2.

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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