Thursday, December 1, 2011
Any hopes of a profitable year for container shipping lines have been dispelled as they saw their average operating margins plummet further into the red in the third quarter.
Most carriers will end the year in the red, as Q4 results are expected to be even weaker.
Volumes and rates are said to be declining further due to the impact of the winter slack season, while operating costs remain under pressure from high bunker costs.
In a survey carried out by analyst Alphaliner, the average operating margins of the 15 major carriers included fell 9% in Q3, compared with an 8% drop in the second quarter.
It found that Hapag-Lloyd was the only shipping line that managed to avoid negative operating figures for the period, while the remaining 14 carriers posted losses of between 3% and 25%.
“The rising losses have created additional pressure to seek fresh cash injections among the carriers, as the industry braces for a prolonged downturn that could last for several more quarters,” said Alphaliner.
“The majority of carriers are currently recording negative ebitda, implying cash losses on their operations.
“The liquidity situation for a number of carriers has become more severe, with further deterioration expected in the fourth quarter,” added the analyst.
Weak operating results forced MISC Berhad to announce its exit from the container market, several other carriers, including CSAV and Zim Lines, are pursuing new cash injections and Maersk and OOIL have announced cutbacks in their Asia-Europe services.