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CMA CGM’s net profit in the second quarter of the year soared 67%, compared with the same period of 2014, to $156m, boosted by a sharp decline in fuel prices and currency gains that helped mitigate a 7.8% fall in its average freight rate.

The carrier said the result “demonstrated the strength of its business plan”, in that despite the sharp fall in rates and industry overcapacity it was able to “significantly outperform the market”.

Year-on-year volumes increased by 6.2% to 3.3m teu in the period, although turnover declined by 2.1% to $4.1bn – the consequence of reduced rates – but a 10.9% reduction in unit costs led to the much improved result for the carrier.

At the half-year stage, CMA CGM’s liftings were ahead by 8.2% to 6.4m teu, while revenue was static at $8.1bn on rates that were down 7.7% on the same period of the previous year for an average of $1,266 per teu.

The carrier said the 487,000 teu hike in volume was mainly attributable to a 7.9% increase to the number of containers carried on east-west routes, where CMA CGM is a member of the Ocean Three alliance with CSCL and UASC, while 12.9% more was loaded on its subsidiaries, which now include OPDR.

Net profit for the first six months came in at $574m, versus $204m achieved in H1 2014. However, without a 33% decrease in the cost of bunkers and consumables and a 26% windfall from the dollar’s strength against the euro, the result would not have been nearly as good.

This was evidenced by the interim results from Hapag-Lloyd, which saw its average rate tumble to $1,264 per teu in Q2 and its profit shrink to $31m, from $145m in the first quarter. The carriers were guilty of discounting away their total savings from cheap fuel and currency gains far too quickly.

Moreover, with rates still falling on a number of tradelanes and carrier general rate increases refusing to hold for any length of time, it is questionable whether growth in a shrinking market is sustainable for either of the two European container lines going into the final four months of the year.

During the German carrier’s interim results presentation last week, chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen said the line would henceforth concentrate on “revenue quality”, and would be “more responsible on the spot market”.

Although the third-ranked biggest container line CMA CGM did not exceed number-one carrier Maersk Line’s $507m profit for Q2, it did achieve a better ROIC (return on invested capital) during the period at 14%, compared with the Danish line’s 10.1%.

Elsewhere, CMA CGM has won a 30-year concession to operate the Kingston, Jamaica, container terminal, which it intends to make the group’s regional hub for the expanded Panama Canal next year, and has received two 9,400 teu newbuilds that will be deployed specifically on trades using the waterway.

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