Hapag-Lloyd nine-month net profit soars 10-fold on record freight rates

FRANKFURT (Reuters) -German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd reported a more than 10-fold surge in nine-month net profit on Friday, citing record freight rates amid scarce transport capacity and rising transport volumes.

The world’s fifth biggest operator said net profit climbed to 5.6 billion euros ($6.41 billion) in the January-September period, from 538 million euros a year earlier.

It expects earnings momentum to remain at a high level for the rest of the year while operators and customers across the globe will face more severe infrastructure bottlenecks due to the coronavirus crisis which has disrupted supply chains.

Global supply chains are under enormous pressure from delays due to logjams at ports.

Chief Executive Officer Rolf Habben Jansen told Reuters he expected some relaxation of the situation around the Chinese New Year festivities around Feb. 1 and up to the end of the second quarter.

“But with the pandemic not behind us, 2022 will not be a normal year,” he said.

Hapag-Lloyd held on to its recently revised full-year guidance for earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) between 10.1 billion and 10.9 billion euros and earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) between 8.7 billion and 9.5 billion euros.

Revenues in the first nine months increased by 60% to 15 billion euros, mainly due to a 66% jump in average freight rates to $1,818 per 20-foot equivalent standard container units (TEU).

Transport costs over the January to September period rose 16% to 7.4 billion euros, with shipping fuel up 12.4% at $452 a tonne.

EBITDA was 6.8 billion euros, up from 1.8 billion euros in the same period in 2020, while EBIT rose to 5.8 billion euros from 858 million euros.

The company said in August it expected to pay a healthy dividend for 2021. It will hold a capital markets day for investors on Nov. 17 and report its final 2021 earnings on March 16.

($1 = 0.8738 euros)

(Reporting by Vera Eckert; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Edmund Blair)

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