vincent-clerc maersk

Maersk recorded its “best financial result in its history” last year, showing a net profit of $29.3bn – but its outlook has been scaled back substantially for this year, predicting an ebit of $2bn to $5bn.

The company said its ocean contract rates were “trending towards spot rates” and it was anticipating “very low profitability” for its liner sector as the market transitioned.

Moreover, that guidance is subject to a recovery in demand in the second half of the year.

“We are not heading back into normal, as we knew it before the pandemic, but a more volatile and unpredictable world,” said CEO Vincent Clerc at this morning’s investor and analyst teleconference presentation.

Total revenue for the group in 2022 was $81.5bn, up 32% on the previous year, of which Maersk’s ocean carrier business contributed $64.3bn.

It carried 23,848 teu across its liner network last year, compared with 26,178 teu in 2021, with a particularly below-industry-par 14% year-on-year decline in its Q4 liftings.

The carrier’s average rate jumped to $4,628 per teu last year, from $3,318 in 2021, but by the fourth quarter it had fallen back to $3,869, down 23% from the third quarter.

Nevertheless, Maersk said, it had maintained 70% of its long-haul business under contract and confirmed that, so far, it had renewed around half of Asia-Europe contracts, albeit at much lower rates.

On the decision to terminate its 2M alliance with MSC, Mr Clerc said the “synergies from the pooling had decreased significantly”, and that, at the same time, the “dis-synergies had increased”.

“We need to regain and retain a strong level of control of the service levels we provide,” said Mr Clerc, something he said was essential in order to meet its global integrator aspirations.

“They cannot be achieved in an alliance structure,” he said, and ruled out any possibility Maersk would partner in another vessel-sharing group. He added: “We have the scale and competitive cost base to stand on our own and deliver on our customer expectations.

“The quicker we get there the better,” he said, adding that “we will have to see, with MSC, what some of the measures are that we can implement within the alliance in the next year or two that will allow us to progress what we are trying to achieve”.

Meanwhile, Maersk’s logistics & services sector reported “strong revenue growth” in 2022, to $14.4bn from $9.8bn in the previous year, for an ebit of $814m, versus $623m in 2021.

Organic revenue contributed 21% of the 47% increase in turnover at its logistics business, the remainder coming from its acquisitions of Pilot Freight Services, Senator International and LF Logistics.

Maersk’s terminals business saw revenue increase from $4bn in 2021 to $4.4bn last year, despite flat throughput of 12.8m teu, driven by tariff increases and higher storage revenue. However, ebit decreased to $832m, from $1.2bn the year before, due to the impact of divesting its terminal business in Russia.

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