German container shipper Hapag-Lloyd said on Wednesday it increased its net profit in the first quarter to 1.2 billion euros ($1.45 billion) and kept up its guidance for “clearly higher” full year earnings.

“We concluded the first quarter with a very positive financial result and look back overall on a solid start to the year,” said Rolf Habben Jansen, chief executive of Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s number five container liner.

Its net profit had slumped to 25 million euros a year ago as the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Citing high demand for container transport and higher freight rate income, the company stressed that despite, the successes, the ramifications of the coronavirus crisis and congested supply chains continue to present a huge challenge to the shipping sector.

Transport volumes were down at roughly 3 million twenty-foot equivalent standard container units (TEU) compared with 3.1 million TEU in first quarter 2020, due to ship shortages in the right place at the right time.

Around the world, port waiting times have lengthened due to labour shortages and traffic snarl-ups during the coronavirus pandemic, leading to delays in returning empty containers.

A roughly 27% lower price of bunker, or shipping fuel at $384 per tonne on average, had a positive impact.

First quarter EBITDA stood at 1.6 billion euros, more than three times the 469 million a year earlier, while EBIT, at 1.3 billion euros, compared with 160 million euros in 2020.

($1 = 0.8248 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert, editing by Emma Thomasson)

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