While the parent Maersk Group reported a profit of $118 million in the second quarter ended June 30, it was for below the $1.1 billion profit for the year-ago period, dragged down particularly by average container freight rates in its Maersk Line unit and low oil prices in its Maersk Oil division.
Maersk Line reported a loss of $151 million compared to profit of $507 million in the second quarter in 2015.
Revenue in the division fell 19 percent to $5.1 billion, driven by a 24 percent decline in average freight rates to $1,716 per 40-foot equivalent unit, or FFE. This was partially offset by a 6.9 percent increase in volume.
With an increase of fleet capacity of 2.2 percent, the increase in volume represents an improvement of network utilization, the company said. The freight rate decline was mainly attributable to lower bunker prices and weak market conditions.
The Copenhagen-based company said Maersk Line continued to deliver on strategic objectives in the quarter, with record low unit costs and a volume growth at least in line with the market.
“In a second quarter impacted by low growth and falling prices in nearly all our markets, the Maersk Group delivered an underlying profit of $134 million,” said new chief executive officer Søren Skou. “The result is unsatisfactory. Cost reductions and operational optimizations, however, made a significant contribution to mitigating the impact of the negative market conditions. Maersk Oil has reduced operational costs by 25 percent, upholding a breakeven at $40 to $45 per barrel. The costs in Maersk Line have been reduced to an all-time low and are less than $2,000 per FFE for the first time. Our financial position remains strong with a liquidity reserve of $11.5 billion. The group’s expectation for 2016 of an underlying result significantly below last year is unchanged.”
Skou said to ensure future strength, profitability and development of new growth opportunities, Maersk’s board has initiated a strategic review of the company and will report on progress of the review before the end of the third quarter.
The company said guidance for 2016 is “subject to considerable uncertainty, not least due to developments in the global economy, the container freight rates and the oil price.”