Maersk Ratchets Up Profit Guidance After Freight Rates Soar

Posted by Francisca Macias

A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S, the world’s largest container line, raised its guidance for profit this year after freight rates soared as lockdowns led to a surge in spending on shipped goods.

The Copenhagen-based company added almost $5 billion to the midpoint of its operating profit forecast, according to a statement late on Aug. 2. Full-year EBITDA will be $18 billion to $19.5 billion, up from a previous forecast of $13 billion to $15 billion. Underlying EBIT will be in a range of $14 billion to $15.5 billion compared with $9 billion to $11 billion seen previously.

“The strong quarterly performance is mainly driven by the continuation of the exceptional market situation with a strong rebound in demand causing bottlenecks in the supply chains and equipment shortage,” Maersk said.

Over the past year, freight rates have repeatedly broken through record highs amid intense demand and limited supply. On the demand side, consumers who were unable to channel savings into restaurant visits and trips abroad instead spent their money on imports. On the supply side, already-tight capacity was hit by bottlenecks that squeezed traffic in key routes.

Maersk shares rose 1.5% after trading started in Copenhagen on Aug. 3, bringing its gains this year to more than 30%.

“Freight rates have continued their ascent so a profit upgrade is not a surprise, but the new forecast range is higher than expected,” Mikkel Emil Jensen, an analyst at Sydbank, said in a note.

Maersk, which in May said it will buy back $5 billion in stock, is scheduled to release its full second-quarter report on Aug. 6.

The company provided some unaudited second-quarter figures on Aug. 2:

  • Revenue was $14.2 billion.
  • Underlying EBITDA was $5.1 billion.
  • Underlying EBIT was $4.1 billion
  • Earnings in the third quarter are expected to “exceed the level for Q2 2021.”
  • 2021 global container demand is expected to grow 6-8%, up from 5-7% expected previously, primarily driven by export volumes out of China to the U.S.


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