Maersk, the world’s largest container shipping line, made a profit of $461m last year, a $1bn turnaround after the loss of $553m in 2011.
The improvement is the result of rate increases on most trades along with capacity adjustments in the form of slow steaming, scrappings, idling and blanked sailings.
The line currently accounts for about 15 per cent of the world’s container capacity ahead of Mediterranean Shipping and CMA CGM.
Maersk reported that average freight rates were 1.9 per cent higher at $2,881 per FFE (forty foot equivalent unit).
Volumes increased by five per cent to 8.5m FFE. Bunker consumption per FFE was reduced by 11 per cent and headquarters headcount was reduced significantly.
The total fleet capacity increased by four per cent to 2.6m TEU, but capacity growth in owned fleet was partly offset by redelivery of time charter vessels.
Damco, Maersk’s logistics business made a profit of $55m – down from last year’s $63m.
Damco increased its service offerings within the airfreight market through the acquisition in 2011 of NTS International Transport Services in China. In October last year it acquired the freight forwarder Pacific Network Global Logistics.
Overall, the group delivered a profit of $4.0bn for the year – up from $3.4bn in 2011. The largest profit contributor was Maersk Oil which made a profit of $2.4bn.
For 2013 Maersk Line expects a result above the $461m profit for 2012 based primarily on further unit cost reductions. Global demand for seaborne containers is expected to increase by 4-5 per cent in 2013, lower on the Asia–Europe trades but supported by higher growth for imports to emerging economies.