A.P. Moller-Maersk has once again upgraded its full-year guidance on better than expected fourth quarter earnings, backed by record freight rates.
The Danish shipping giant expects full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of $24bn, up from the $22bn-$23bn forecasts in November last year. EBIT has been revised at $19.8bn from up to $19bn and free cash flow is now expected to increase close to $2bn at $16.4bn.
For the fourth quarter of 2021, Maersk generated revenue of $18.5bn, an underlying EBITDA of $8bn and an underlying EBIT of $6.8bn. A 4% quarterly decline in container volumes in Q4 was more than offset by freight rates improving 80% year-over-year.
“The strong result in the quarter reflects the continuation of the exceptional market situation within Ocean caused by the global disruptions to the supply chains, which have led to further increase in container freight rates,” the company said in a statement.
At the start of 2021, Maersk’s EBITDA expectations were between $8.5bn and $10.5bn. Multiple revisions then followed. The company will give a revised outlook for full-year 2022 on February 9.
Liners, collectively, were tipped by consultants Drewry to have made a combined record net profit in excess of $150bn last year.
December 31 saw the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) pass the 5,000 points for the first time – and it has continued to rise in the first days of 2022. “There are no indications that rates are dropping, placing a question mark on whether there is going to be a slack season at all,” said Alan Murphy, the CEO of Sea-Intelligence.