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As soon as the third-quarter results of Hapag-Lloyd were released, a market observer wrote me: “profitable by a razor thin margin… lovely.”

He added a decent quarter “does not make a good year and Asia-Europe in Q4 looks not nice so far”.

In the quarterly release on Thursday, chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen said “we have seen a positive development in the third quarter and also ended on a positive group net result after nine months. Higher transport volumes, a better utilisation of our ships and the synergies from the recent merger with UASC have enabled us to partially offset rising operational costs. In addition, the average freight rate improved during the peak season in important trades. Despite the persistent upwards pressure on the operational costs in various parts of our business, we remain cautiously optimistic for the rest of the year.”

Earlier this year, the supervisory board of Hapag-Lloyd unanimously voted to extend the contract of Mr Jansen until 31 March 2024. When the announcement was made, it was a very different market for the ocean carriers, although the signs of the gathering storm were there for all to see well in advance.

Investors’ lack of confidence is a serious issue (the same applies to Maersk, down 1.5% today), and it doesn’t look very good now because sell-side analysts might have to review their projections for 2019 and 2020 as soon as this year.

(Source Yahoo Finance)

Good luck, Mr Jansen.