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Like its industry peers, Yang Ming saw profits soar in the final quarter of last year, recording a surplus of $343m, pushing full-year net profit to $405m.
Despite a 6.6% decline in liftings, to 5.1m teu, the Taiwanese carrier’s turnover improved 1.4% year on year, to $5.11bn, as freight rates leapt in the second half of the year while fuel costs remained low.
Yang Ming achieved its first profitable quarter in over two years in Q3, after having racked up losses of some $800m since 2016.
“With this strong business performance, Yang Ming has strengthened its financial status and successfully eliminated the accumulated deficit,” said the line.
It said it intended to “further enhance” its finances by issuing up to 300 million new common shares, which it said would enable it “to achieve sustainable development”.
A year ago, posting a loss of $139m for 2019, Yang Ming was obliged to take urgent action to improve its P&L account, including returning 14 “high-cost” chartered vessels to owners, and the board approved a private placement for 300m preferred shares, which were expected to be taken up by the Taiwanese government, which already held a 48% equity stake in the carrier.
At the time, there was also speculation of a merger with its larger compatriot container line, Evergreen. However, with its newfound profitability Yang Ming has changed its strategy to one of aggressive growth.
This included last month taking ten 12,690 teu neo-panamax vessels from shipowner Costamare three months ahead of schedule.
Yang Ming said it would immediately deploy the newbuilds on THE Alliance’s transpacific PN3 loop, which connects Asia with the North American west coast ports of Vancouver and Seattle.
Yang Ming is the world’s ninth-ranked container line, with a capacity of 626,000 teu and a fleet of 88 vessels of which around 50% are owned. It was recently overtaken in the rankings by its newest THEA partner, HMM, as the South Korean carrier’s capacity jumped to 734,000 teu.
However, Yang Ming has an orderbook of 128,538 teu for 13 ships, while HMM’s is 112,000 teu for seven vessels.