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Maersk this morning updated its forecast for the second quarter, which indicated that world container trade may not plumb the depths many had feared in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With current trading, the market demand in the second quarter of 2020 is developing more favourably than originally expected, with volumes downfall for AP Møller-Maersk now anticipated to be in the range of -15% to -18% for Q2 20, compared with the initial guidance of -20% to -25%,” it said.
It added that, as a result of a relatively brighter trade outlook and its cost-cutting measures – mainly suspended services and blanked sailings – its second-quarter financial result would be in line with the first quarter.
“AP Møller-Maersk expects an ebitda before restructuring and integration costs for Q2 20 slightly above the level for Q1 ($1.5bn).”
Chief executive Søren Skou said the outlook meant the second quarter should show a year-on-year improvement.
“Despite an expected drop in demand due to Covid-19 during the second quarter, I am pleased that we expect to deliver operating earnings slightly above our operating earnings in the first quarter. This also means we expect operating earnings to be higher than they were in the same quarter last year,” he explained.
“We have been able to navigate well in a very difficult second quarter, adjusting capacity to demand to maintain high utilisation of our network and managing our cost across the company.
“This quarter follows a first quarter where we also delivered year-on-year earnings growth, despite 5% lower demand and sharply increasing fuel cost as a result of the switch to low-sulphur fuel on 1 January.
“While uncertainty persists because of the pandemic and low visibility on the recovery path, we benefit from a more resilient ocean business,” he added.