Global demand for seaborne containers will grow by six to eight per cent in 2011, Maersk said in its interim results but global supply of new tonnage is expected to grow more than the freight volumes especially on the Asia to Europe trade.
The group expects freight rates to remain under pressure, and high bunker and time charter costs are expected to continue to impact margins negatively. The group’s container activities now expect a modest positive result.
The group posted a nine per cent increase in sales to US$29.9bn for the first half of 2011 while profit for the period was up eight per cent at $2.7bn – including $700m from the sale of Netto to Asda.
Maersk chief Nils Andersen said: “Thanks to the good performance of our terminals and oil related businesses, the group has delivered a satisfactory result for the first half-year. As we anticipated at the start of the year, the shipping market has been difficult, due to growing capacity, and we expect the slow economic growth and market volatility to continue for the coming quarters.
“We have taken advantage of our solid financial position to invest in our core businesses and are thereby preparing ourselves for continued and profitable long term growth.”
However, Maersk expects the result for the full year to be down on 2010, warning that “the outlook for 2011 is subject to considerable uncertainty, not least due to developments in the global economy, oil price and global trade conditions.”